Coronavirus live news: English churches to be allowed choirs for Easter; Venezuelan president’s Facebook page frozen over cure claim | World news
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Germany must bring down coronavirus infections in the next few weeks or risk new virus mutations that are resistant to vaccines and should impose night-time curfews in regions with high caseloads, according to a senior aide to chancellor Angela Merkel.
“We are in the most dangerous phase of the pandemic,” Merkel’s chief of staff Helge Braun told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “The next few weeks will determine whether we can foreseeably get the pandemic under control.”
If the number of infections rises rapidly again there is a growing danger that the next virus mutation will become resistant to the vaccine, Braun said. “Then we would need new vaccines, then we would have to start vaccinating all over again,” he added.
After a popular backlash and legal hurdles, Merkel was forced to ditch plans for an extended Easter holiday intended to try to break a third wave of Covid-19, but Braun said it remained imperative to reduce the number of infections, Reuters reports.
Hundreds gathered in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen to protest against a controversial virus law and the country’s plan to create so-called “corona passports”.
Marching through the streets, the crowd of mostly younger people, lit fireworks during a march which an AFP correspondent at the scene described as mostly peaceful.
Police told the Ekstrabladet newspaper that about 600 people had gathered and one person was arrested for throwing firecrackers towards police officers.
Organised by Danish anti-restriction group “Men in Black,” the main issue for the protesters was a new provision to the penal code that calls for a doubled sentence for a crime that “has a background in or is connected to the Covid-19 epidemic”.
The first severe application of that law happened in mid-March, when a Danish court convicted a 30-year-old woman for statements and actions that contributed to a “gross disturbance of public order as well as the use of violence against police,” at a January protest – organised by the same group.
Her one-year prison sentence was converted to two years.
The Saturday march stopped outside the prison where she is being held, with cries of “Free Nanna” outside the building which was heavily guarded by police vans.
Small choirs will be allowed to perform at churches in England for Palm Sunday services and Easter, the government has said.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said groups would be able to practise and perform inside places of worship if they are socially distanced and limited to “as few singers as possible”. Under previous guidelines in England, only one person was allowed to sing or chant indoors when deemed “essential to an act of worship”, or a maximum of three people in “exceptional” circumstances. The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, said on Twitter that he was “pleased to have clarified guidance on choirs ahead of Easter services”.
Brazil has recorded 85,948 new coronavirus cases and a further 3,438 deaths, Reuters reports. It is the second day in a row that fatalities have exceeded 3,000.
The country has had over 12.4 million cases in total and more than 310,000 deaths.
Health authorities in Australia are scrambling to track down all contacts of two Brisbane friends who tested positive for coronavirus, amid fresh concerns about the outbreak growing.
A week from Easter, Queensland Health revealed on Saturday night one of the men, aged 26, held a house party while he was waiting for his test result, despite instructions to self-isolate.
About 25 guests attended the Strathpine gathering and all have been ordered into quarantine and are being tested for Covid-19.
France expects to receive 3m doses of vaccines this week, rising to 4m a week in a month’s time, junior industry minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Europe 1 radio, Reuters reports.
As of Saturday, more than 7.7 million people had received a first dose of vaccine, the health ministry said.
At 5.40am on 24 October last year, Anna Butler and George Tapp walked hand-in-hand from their nearby apartment down to Bronte beach’s ocean pool. Though a popular site for swimming and exercising, the pair weren’t visiting for morning laps. Butler and Tapp were getting married – one of many couples in 2020 who eschewed a large wedding in favour of a more intimate affair.
“It was the place of our first date, and where George proposed,” explains Butler of the location’s significance, though truthfully it wasn’t their first choice of wedding venue. They had originally intended to wed in Mollymook, on the New South Wales south coast, alongside 150 of their nearest and dearest, before Covid-19 and its various lockdowns forced them, frustratingly, back to the drawing board.
Mexico reported 4,922 new cases of Covid-19 and 567 more fatalities, Reuters reports.
It brings the country’s total to 2,224,767 infections and 201,429 deaths, according to health ministry data.
Here is more on the rock concert in Barcelona where spectators had rapid Covid-19 tests.
About 5,000 people will attend the sold-out concert for Spanish indie band Love of Lesbian, and will not be required to observe social distancing. Attendees will have to wear face masks throughout the concert in the Palau Sant Jordi arena.
“(This concert) is about the excitement of going out, consuming culture, and dancing in a more or less safe environment,” said Sebastian, 47, a teacher getting tested ahead of the concert. “We’re going to dance and have a great time.”
The pilot concert, which has been approved by health authorities, will serve as a test for whether similar events will be able to start up again.
“It will be safer to be in the Palau Sant Jordi than walking down the street,” concert co-organiser Jordi Herreruela told Reuters.
Pre-concert testing was offered at three locations in Barcelona, and carried out by 80 nurses wearing full personal protective equipment. Some people winced as nurses swabbed their noses.
France has recorded 42,619 new cases on Saturday compared with 41,869 cases on Friday, Reuters reports. The total number has surpassed 4.5 million.
A World Health Organization-backed programme to supply coronavirus vaccines to poorer countries expects that the Serum Institute of India (SII) will resume full deliveries of the AstraZeneca shot to it in May, Unicef said.
Deliveries of SII/AZ vaccine are expected to begin fully again by May, with catch-up deliveries to reach every participant’s full allocation up to May, accelerating thereafter,” a Unicef spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman added that the programme, known as Covax, was in talks with New Delhi to secure “some supply” in April too. Covax was expecting a total of 90m doses from SII in March and April, of which it has received about 28m.
Unicef is the distributing partner of the programme, run with the Gavi vaccine alliance.
India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, said on Friday it would make domestic Covid-19 inoculations a priority as infections surge, and had told international buyers of its decision.
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