Coronavirus digest: German parliament votes to lift restrictions

Coronavirus digest: German parliament votes to lift restrictions

The German parliament on Friday voted to abolish nationwide restrictions introduced to curb the coronavirus pandemic. The vote came despite persistently high infection rates.

Germany’s three-party governing coalition brought the bill foward, with every opposition party opposing it. The Bundesrat, the upper house made up of representative from the 16 states, also approved the bill.

The legislation would allow for the removal of nationwide mask requirements everywhere, except in facilities where vulnerable people are housed, like hospitals and nursing homes. Federal states would also still be able to require face masks on public transport. 

“We can’t continue to shield the whole country to protect a small group of those unwilling to be vaccinated and those not willing to go along with the measures to protect them,” Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterback said.

Meanwhile, Germany’s incidence rate — coronavirus cases per 100,000 people during a one-week period — reached a record high of 1,706.3 on Friday, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:

Asia

China on Saturday recorded the first COVID-related deaths in more than a year, as the country faces an omicron-driven surge. Health authorities reported two deaths, both in the northeastern Jilin province.

It brings China’s total death toll to 4,638. Jilin province has now instituted a travel ban, with people needing permission from police to travel across borders.

Myanmar will lift its two-year ban on foreign tourists, allowing international passenger flights to resume starting April 17.

The National Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of Coronavirus Disease, announced the decision citing falling COVID infections.

The decision was made “in order to improve the tourism business sector, and in order to have smooth trip for visitors who come to visit Myanmar.”

Hong Kong’s COVID infections exceeded the one-million mark after health officials confirmed 20,079 new cases on Friday. Nearly 97% of those came from the current wave, which began in December.

The total number of deaths in the region was 5,401, out of which nearly 5,200 people have died since February 9.

Europe

Dutch prosecutors said that a well-known anti-COVID activist who protested against government measures in the Netherlands will remain in custody for two more weeks on charges of incitement.

Willem Engel was taken into custody on Wednesday in Rotterdam after more than 22,000 people signed a complaint against him.

The 45-year-old has become one of the leading faces of the Dutch anti-vaccine movement.

France saw its rate of infection grow 25% in the last week, health authorities said. It dropped most of its coronavirus restrictions on Monday. Admission rate at hospital, however, remain stable.

adi/ (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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Last Update: Sat, 19 Mar 22 06:28:02