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- Because of the danger posed by the mutated virus, Switzerland is significantly tightening the corona requirements.
- The number of coronavirus infections in the US has increased by at least 226,954 in 24 hours.
- Russia reports 22,850 new infections within 24 hours
- Great Britain is considering placing corona patients in hotels.
- For flights to the USA, proof of a negative corona test is required from January 26.
- The lockdown in the Netherlands will be extended until February 9
After weeks of hesitation, Switzerland is tightening its corona measures significantly: From Monday onwards, all shops that do not sell everyday goods will be closed. Besides, employers must arrange to work from home wherever possible. Only a maximum of five people is allowed to participate in private events. The reason is the spread of the new virus variants, which are significantly more contagious than the earlier variants, said Federal President Guy Parmelin on Wednesday in Bern.
Service providers such as hairdressers or repair shops, flower shops, building, and gardening shops are not affected by the closings.
At the same time, the government extended the existing measures by five weeks. This means that restaurants, cultural establishments, sports facilities, and leisure facilities will remain closed until the end of February. The schools remain open. The government allows the cantons to close or open the ski areas. Parmelin asked for understanding for the aggravation that suffering was everywhere: "This suffering sometimes also leads to anger, that is human. But we have to keep a cool head now."
The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health reported 3,001 new infections on Wednesday. That was 477.5 per 100,000 inhabitants within 14 days. In Germany, the number of new infections reported to the health authorities within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants (seven-day incidence) was 155.0. Health Minister Alain Berset said cases of the new virus mutation were doubling every week. The Swiss situation can be compared with the situation in Great Britain at the beginning of December. "But we have a knowledge advantage; we can act at the right moment." Without new measures, a heavy third wave threatens in February. "The question is not whether we have to take action; the question is when. And we believe that the longer we wait, the more expensive it gets."
227,000 new infections in the US
The number of coronavirus infections in the United States rose by at least 226,954 to 22.69 million in 24 hours. This comes from a Reuters survey based on official data. At least 4,336 other people died from or with the virus. The number of deaths increased to 380 524. The USA has the most infections and deaths worldwide.
Russia reports 22,850 new infections
In Russia, the authorities have reported 22,850 new infections within the past 24 hours. In Moscow, which is particularly severely affected by the spread of the coronavirus, 4,320 people tested positive, the authorities say. More than 3.47 million cases of infection have been known since the pandemic began, making Russia the fourth-highest figure in the world. In addition, 566 deaths related to the virus were registered within 24 hours, the total number increasing to 63,370.
The UK is considering placing patients in hotels
Because hospitals in Great Britain are at their limit, Health Minister Matt Hancock says that patients could be accommodated in hotels if necessary. This is conceivable for patients who no longer need full hospital treatment but cannot go home yet, he tells the BBC. "We are examining all options."
Flights to the USA only with a negative corona test
For flights to the USA, proof of a negative corona test will be required before departure. This regulation will apply from January 26 and help slow the spread of the pandemic, the US health agency CDC said on Tuesday evening. If a passenger could not prove a negative test result or a survived Covid infection, "the airline must refuse to board," it said. The so-called PCR test, with which the virus is to be detected, must be carried out in the three days before departure.
The agency also urges all travelers to retest three to five days after arriving in the United States and to stay at home seven days after the trip. However, these are recommendations, not a legally binding provision. The new regulation will apply to all international flights to the USA, regardless of the place of departure and the citizenship or visa of the travelers.
"Tests do not eliminate all risk," admitted CDC boss Robert Redfield. Combined with the rest of the precautionary measures, however, they would make traveling safer. The US government imposed extensive entry restrictions on travelers from Europe, China, and Brazil due to the pandemic last year. These continue to apply.
In view of the new and probably more contagious variant of the coronavirus, which has so far mainly spread in Great Britain, the USA has been demanding a negative corona test when entering from there since the end of December. Individual cases of the new variant have already been detected in numerous US states.
The Netherlands extends lockdown until February
The Netherlands will extend the lockdown for another three weeks until February 9. Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced this in The Hague. "We have no choice." The number of new infections declined four weeks after the lockdown was imposed. But it is nowhere near enough. There are also major concerns about the British virus mutation, said the Prime Minister. "The pictures from London are very alarming."
The government is also not ruling out tightening measures such as an evening curfew. We strongly advise against traveling abroad until March. "It's not over yet," Rutte continued and appealed to the citizens: "Hold on."
Strict corona measures have been in place in the country since mid-December. Restaurants and shops are closed, as are schools. Personal contacts outside of your own household are limited to two people a day. Initially, the measures should only apply until January 19. But the government is considering reopening primary schools at the end of January.
Astra Zeneca applies for approval of its vaccine in the EU
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) wants to complete the evaluation for Astra Zeneca's Covid-19 vaccine's possible approval by the end of January. By January 29, the EMA's responsible committee could decide the vaccine of the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company. The authority had received an application for conditional marketing authorization from Astra Zeneca, it said from the institution based in Amsterdam.
At the end of December, Great Britain became the first country to give the green light for the vaccine that Astra Zeneca was developing together with Oxford University. With the vaccines from BioNTech / Pfizer and the US manufacturer Moderna, a total of three vaccines would be approved in the EU if the decision was positive. The international community has pre-ordered up to 400 million doses of the product.
South Africa variant of the virus discovered in Germany
For the first time, the South Africa variant B.1.351 (also: 501Y.V2) of the coronavirus has been detected in Germany. The Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Social Affairs announced that a sick person from the Zollernalb district was affected on Tuesday in Stuttgart. She had returned with her family from an extended stay in South Africa, and everyone had been tested five days later. "These tests were negative," it said. A week later, the first family members developed mild symptoms.
Corona infections have now been detected in six people from three households. The national consulting laboratory for coronaviruses, the Charité Berlin, examined the swab sample of the person who was first ill and confirmed the virus variant B.1.351 - also known as 501Y.V2 - on Monday. Now the smears of the contact persons would also be examined, explained the Ministry of Social Affairs.
The South African government reported on the rapid increase in infections with the variant after mid-December. This was first detected in August at the Eastern Cape in South Africa.
The Balearic Islands mandate silence on buses and trains
Given the rapidly increasing number of corona infections, Mallorca and the other Balearic Islands have drastically tightened the current restrictions on public life. From Wednesday on, private meetings at home and in public of people who do not live in the same household are initially forbidden for two weeks. In addition, all restaurants, bars, cafes, and fitness studios have to close.
In the future, passengers in buses and trains should remain silent during the journey to avoid infection with viruses from the aerosol particles released when