Tag Archives: Government and politics

Germany limits travel from French region on virus variant | Instant News

Germany has announced that travelers to France’s northeastern Moselle region will face additional restrictions due to the high rate of coronavirus variant cases in this regionBy FRANK JORDANS Associated PressFebruary 28, 2021, 5:01 pm • 3 min ReadShare on FacebookShare on TwitterSend this articleBERLIN – Announcement from Germany On Sunday, travelers to the Moselle region in northeastern France will face additional restrictions due to the high rate of variant cases. coronavirus in this country. includes countries such as the Czech Republic, Portugal, the United Kingdom and parts of Austria. Travelers from these regions must produce a recent negative coronavirus test before entering Germany. The Moselle region in northeastern France includes the city of Metz and borders the German states of La Sarre and Rhineland-Palatinate.Clement Beaune, France’s minister for Europe in business, said France regretted the decision and was in negotiations with Germany to try to alleviate the measures for 16,000 inhabitants of the Moselle who work on the other side of the border. Specifically, he said France does not want them to face the daily PCR virus tests that Germany has applied elsewhere to travelers along certain borders. “We don’t want that,” he said. Beaune said France is pushing for easier use, faster testing methods and for testing every 2-3 days rather than every day. Further talks are expected later on Sunday, he said. The weekly rate of new infections in Moselle, at more than 300 per 100,000, is well above the average for the eastern region of France and the region. national average. In Germany, the number of cases per week is currently nearly 64 per 100,000 population. The Robert Koch Institute registered 7,890 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Germany in the last day, bringing the total to more than 2 , 4 million cases. The death toll rose from 157 to 70045. German officials have warned that virus variants such as the one first detected in Britain – known as B.1.1.7 – could spread more easily and fueling the infection rate at a time when Germany is slowly relaxing. “There are two trains rushing towards each other,” said Karl Lauterbach, epidemiologist and lawmaker within the center-left Social Democrats. He called on Germany to prioritize as many people as possible, as some other countries have done so, including with the AstraZeneca shot currently reserved for those under 65. Businesses and schools should also run weekly tests, or more when possible, and those who test negative should also be able to visit stores again. Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder also called for a change in the way the AstraZeneca shot is used. The vaccine has been avoided by many hopes of getting vaccinated by German company BioNTech and Pfizer, or by a similar vaccine made by US company Moderna. Soeder said on Sunday that it was “an absurd situation” that many of those who want to be vaccinated cannot, while those who cannot want it. “Everything that’s left should just be released,” he said .——— Follow all of the AP pandemic coverage at: https: //apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemichttps: // apnews .com / hub / coronavirus-vaccinehttps: //apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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WFP: Security protocols, leak focus of Congo investigation | Territory | Instant News

ROME (AP) – A UN investigation into an attack on a humanitarian convoy in Congo that killed the Italian ambassador, bodyguards and driver will investigate whether the mission’s long-planned security protocols were followed and whether information may have been leaked to unidentified gunmen. involved in the ambush.

World Food Program deputy director of communications, Greg Barrow, told an online briefing Friday that a February 22 mission to bring Ambassador Luca Attanasio to the WFP school feeding program in eastern Congo has been in the works since 2020.

Previous planning and security meetings and security briefings lasted until a seven-member team took off from Goma, in eastern Congo, in a two-car convoy bound for the program in Rutshuru, he said.

“Very careful planning is carried out ahead of this visit,” he said.

Attanasio, his security guard, paramilitary officer Carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci, and Congolese WFP driver Moustapha Milambo died Monday when an armed group stopped them and ordered them to get out of their car. Milambo died instantly, and Attanasio and Iacovacci were shot dead in the crossfire after a nearby ranger patrol arrived on the scene.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack. Several armed groups are active in the area.

Italy has officially asked the United Nations to investigate what happened amid questions about whether UN security arrangements were sufficient for the mission. The UN says the road has been declared “green” by the United Nations and is allowed to travel without security escorts or armored vehicles.

The WFP said it was cooperating with the Italy, Congo and UN investigations.

Barrow said the UN investigation would examine preparatory meetings leading up to the mission itself and whether security protocols were being followed.

“The main focus of a fact-finding mission will be on what security protocols are carried out, how they are followed and what steps are taken to minimize any kind of risk to anyone on this mission,” he said. “And that will include any access to prior or contemporary information about the trip.”

He said that while the attack prompted an automated security review, WFP had no plans to transform its humanitarian efforts in Congo. It was not immediately clear why Attanasio was examining the food program because Italy did not fund it.

One of the survivors of the ambush, WFP deputy state director Rocco Leone, said it was the duty of the four surviving members of the mission to establish the truth about what happened.

“I believe that I speak for everyone saying that I look forward to seeing the facts behind this tragic incident come to light soon, and that the perpetrators of this heinous attack can be brought to justice,” Leone said in a statement read by Barrow. . “It is important that humanitarian operations can continue unhindered in order to save and transform the lives of the many needy people we serve here.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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Germany’s top bishop regrets ‘shameful’ image of church | World | Instant News

BERLIN (AP) – The president of the German bishops’ conference said on Thursday that the country’s Roman Catholic church was suffering from a “disgraceful image” amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop’s handling of reports of past sexual abuse by priests, but he defended self. his overall record of dealing with the problem.

The Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after hiding for months a study he was conducting into how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual harassment.

Woelki cited legal issues regarding the publication of studies conducted by law firms. He has created a new report, which is supposed to be published on March 18.

There has been criticism within Woelki’s German church. The chairman of the German bishops’ conference, Bishop of Limburg Georg Baetzing, described crisis management in Cologne as “catastrophic” but said earlier this week that the conference had no “sovereignty” to intervene.

After a regular meeting of the country’s bishops, Baetzing said on Thursday they are taking the impact on the church “very seriously”.

A Cologne court this month announced that it increased the number of appointments available to people wishing to leave the church officially to 1,500 from 1,000 starting in March, amid strong demand.


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Brazil’s death toll stands at 250,000, the virus is still rampant | Instant News

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll, which surpassed 250,000 on Thursday, is the second highest in the world for the same reason, the second wave has not faded: Prevention has never been a priority, experts say.

Since the start of the pandemic, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has scoffed at the “little flu” and criticized local leaders for imposing restrictions on activity; He said the economy had to keep going to prevent worse hardships.

Even when he approved pandemic welfare payments for the poor, it wasn’t announced as a way to keep people at home. And Brazilians stay out and about vaccinations have started – but launches are proving to be much slower than anticipated.

“Brazil has absolutely no response plan. We have been through this for the past year and we still don’t have a clear plan, a national plan, ”Miguel Lago, executive director of the Brazilian Institute of Health Policy Studies, advising public health officials, told the Associated Press. “There are no plans at all. And the same is true for vaccinations. “

While other countries’ daily cases and deaths have declined, Latin America’s largest country is parked on the plateau – a grim repeat in mid-2020. In the past five weeks, Brazil has averaged more than 1,000 deaths every day. Official data showed the total death toll was 251,498 as of Thursday.

At least 12 Brazilian states are in the midst of a second wave that is even worse than the one faced in 2020, said Domingos Alves, an epidemiologist who has been tracking COVID-19 data.

“This scenario is going to get worse,” Alves told AP, adding that the virus is spreading more rapidly among populations. In Amazonas state, where the capital, Manaus, saw hospitals run out of oxygen last month, there have been more than 5,000 deaths in the first two months of this year, nearly as many as in 2020.

“This is the most difficult time we have experienced since the confirmation of the first case,” Carlos Lula, chairman of the National Council of Health Secretaries, was quoted as saying by the newspaper O Globo, Thursday. “We’ve never had so many states.” with so many difficulties at the same time. “

Alves and other public health experts said the spread was exacerbated by authorities’ reluctance to follow recommendations from international health organizations to impose stricter restrictions.

It’s up to governors and mayors to impose lockdowns or other restrictions to contain the virus. The states of Sao Paulo and Bahia have recently imposed curfews, but experts say the move is too late and insufficient.

“Those are not containment measures; it is palliative action, always taken after the fact, ”said Alves, who is also a professor of social medicine at the University of Sao Paulo. “‘Lockdown’ has become a curse word in Brazil.”

Miguel Nicolelis, a leading Brazilian neurologist, warned in January that Brazil had to go into lockdown or “we will not be able to bury the dead in 2021.” He has been advising the northeastern states on how to fight COVID-19, but has recently left his position, dissatisfied with their refusal to be isolated, reports the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.

There were a few exceptions, but they remained marginal and failed to inspire a wider movement.

Sao Luis, the capital of the northeastern state of Maranhao, was the first Brazilian city to go into total lockdown last May. It worked, despite Bolsonaro’s attempts to break the restrictions and sow doubts about its efficacy, according to the state’s governor, Flávio Dino.

“It is very difficult to set distances and preventive measures,” said Dino, adding that the first hurdles were economic and social, especially after the federal government’s emergency pandemic assistance program ended last year.

Lago noted that Bolsonaro rarely even comments on the pandemic anymore, and has effectively shifted to other priorities, including gaining support in Congress to relax arms control laws and pass economic reforms. His administration is trying to recover some of the COVID-19 welfare payments, but for a small group of needy Brazilians.

The only preventive measure Bolsonaro has consistently supported is the use of treatments such as hydroxychloroquine, which have shown no benefit in rigorous studies.

The Bolsonaro administration has also adopted a hands-off approach to the vaccination campaign. That depends in large part on a deal to buy one vaccine, AstraZeneca, which is arriving late. National immunization efforts to date have relied mostly on Chinese-made CoronaVac injections secured by the state of Sao Paulo, even though the federal government is now trying to buy another.

Brazil’s decades of experience with successful vaccination programs and its large national public health care network lead many experts to believe immunization – even if it starts with a delay – will be a relatively fast-paced affair. In the previous campaign, the country of 210 million people was able to vaccinate as many as 10 million people in one day, health experts said.

Five weeks after the first injection, Brazil vaccinated only 3.6% of its population. That’s more than double that of Argentina and Mexico, but less than a quarter of Chile, according to Our World in Data, an online research site that compares official government statistics.

“There’s no way to fast with a vaccine shortage; That’s a crucial point, “said Carla Domingues, who for eight years coordinated Brazil’s national vaccination program, until leaving her position in 2019.” Until there is more supply, the pace will be slower, because you have to keep choosing who gets vaccinated. “

Meanwhile, the virus continues to run rampant across Brazil, and takes its toll.

In the city of São Paulo state, Araraquara, there have been more deaths so far this year than last year and the number of intensive care units is exceeding full capacity, with people on a waiting list to enter ICU and get treatment. Local authorities responded on Sunday by declaring a complete lockdown – making Araraquara only the second city to impose the restrictions.

“We never imagined we would reach this point,” said Fabiana Araújo, a nurse and coordinator of the city committee to fight COVID-19. “It’s the only option.”

—— AP author David Biller contributed from Rio and Mauricio Savarese from Sao Paulo.


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Italy’s Lombardy is back in a viral crisis when Brescia is on the rise | Instant News

Brescia, with a population of around 1.2 million, has seen its daily cases go from the mid-100s in early February to 901 on Wednesdays and 973 Thursdays, due to clusters of infections traced to British variants. Doctors said the number of COVID-19 patients being treated at major public hospitals rose from an average of around 200 to 300 recently.

“We can’t talk about the third wave from our point of view, just because the second wave never really ends,” said Dr. Cristiano Perani, head of the emergency room at the General Hospital of Brescia. “The increase is gradual, but has increased acceleration in recent weeks. “

Lombardy, Italy’s most populous region, has imposed a new lockdown on Brescia and is changing its vaccine strategy to direct the jabs it has on nearby provinces and cities in neighboring Bergamo. The goal of this strategy is to inoculate as many people as possible as quickly as possible in the worst affected areas.

Guido Bertolaso, who is in charge of the vaccine campaign, said the region would pass the 30% reserve the national government recommended to remain available for the second dose, and that from Thursday it would start vaccinating residents aged 60-79, much earlier than. scheduled. Lombardy recently began vaccinating people over 80, after giving health care workers and residents of nursing homes a priority.

The goal of the strategy, Bertolaso ​​said, is to create “health care” in the area with blanket vaccinations. This approach is based on studies from the UK and Israel – and even on the Lombardy data itself – which showed reduced infection rates as more people were vaccinated with just one dose.

“This is war,” Bertolaso ​​said.

Brescia’s deputy mayor, Laura Castelletti, said residents were willing to accept the new lockdown measures – which include the closure of all schools and child care centers – as long as the vaccination schedule accelerates.

“We are ready to make sacrifices if the vaccination campaign runs 24/7,” he said.

Brescia and Bergamo were the two Italian provinces hardest hit during the first wave of the pandemic, which started this time last year and quickly turned Lombardy into the epicenter of the spread in Europe.

Lombardy as a whole still accounts for nearly a third of Italy’s 96,974 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and a fifth of the 2.87 million confirmed infections. Italy has the sixth highest confirmed death toll in the world, and the second in Europe after Britain.

The Italian vaccine campaign, which has delivered 3.92 million doses, has been slowed by delays in deliveries from three EU supplying pharmaceutical companies: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

It was not immediately clear whether the health ministry would direct any vaccine to Lombardy, given the previously established quota that had provided the most doses there.

Italy’s virus czar, Domenico Arcuri, did not respond to Fontana’s request in a statement on Thursday but boasted that the injections showed a “comforting increase” this week, averaging around 100,000 a day nationwide.

Nearly two months after Italy began its vaccination campaign on December 27, the tiny Republic of San Marino gave its first dose on Thursday. San Marino, a city-state of about 33,800 people surrounded by Italy, had to buy a dose of Russia’s Sputnik V after a delay in receiving the dose administered from Italy.

“This is the most effective weapon we have against this disease,” said Dr. Enrico Rossi, who was among the first to be inoculated. “It’s kind of a nightmare this year but we hope it will end.”


Follow all AP pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak


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