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Regional News • Europe
Europe surpasses 1 million Covid-19 deaths
Europe surpasses 1 million Covid-19 deaths
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1 million people have died from Covid-19 in Europe, the World Health Organization announced on Thursday.

The WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge warned that the situation remains "serious," with about 1.6 million new cases reported each week in the region.

Regional News • Europe
Denmark stops AstraZeneca vaccine rollout completely
Denmark stops AstraZeneca vaccine rollout completely
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Denmark has removed the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from its vaccination program, saying it is not needed because the country has already reached "such an advanced point" in its vaccine rollout.

The Danish Health Authority said studies had shown a higher than expected frequency of blood clots following doses, affecting about one in 40,000 people.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany's highest court has ruled that Berlin's 'Mietendeckel', or rent control law, is unconstitutional
Germany's highest court has ruled that Berlin's 'Mietendeckel', or rent control law, is unconstitutional
Credit: unsplash.com / Pavel Nekoranec

The Federal Constitutional Court said that a policy to freeze rents in Berlin for the next five years to combat soaring living costs was unlawful in a ruling published on Thursday morning.

The capital’s “Mietendeckel” law or rent cap “violates the Basic Law and is thus ruled void”, the court in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe said in a blow to millions of tenants.

Regional News • Europe
Johnson & Johnson to delay vaccine rollout in Europe
Johnson & Johnson to delay vaccine rollout in Europe
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

Johnson & Johnson has announced Tuesday it will "proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe" after six women in the US developed a rare disorder involving blood clots.

"The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our number one priority. We are aware of an extremely rare disorder involving people with blood clots in combination with low platelets in a small number of individuals who have received our Covid-19 vaccine. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are reviewing data involving six reported US cases out of more than 6.8 million doses administered. Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in the use of our vaccine," the company said. "In addition, we have been reviewing these cases with European health authorities. We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe. We have been working closely with medical experts and health authorities, and we strongly support the open communication of this information to healthcare professionals and the public."

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German moves to uniform Covid-19 measures nationwide
German moves to uniform Covid-19 measures nationwide
Credit: Bundeskanzlerin

The federal government has said "emergency brake" measures to combat rising case numbers are legally mandated in all federal states, replacing a patchwork system. The change needs to be approved by the Bundestag.

If approved, the new system means that any region in any state with a high Covid-19 case incidence will be legally required to implement a uniform set of rules set out by the federal government.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Vienna extends hard lockdown until May 2
Vienna extends hard lockdown until May 2
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The hard lockdown in Austria's capital of Vienna has been extended until at least May 1, Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig announced on Monday. While Covid-19 infections have decreased in the past weeks, the city's hospitals are at capacity with a new record of 611 patients in the ICU as of Monday.

The measures include a 24-hour curfew, closure of all non-essential shops and mandatory FFP2 masks in all rooms where more than one person is present.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
CDU supports Armin Laschet for chancellor candidacy
Armin Laschet
Armin Laschet Credit: Christliches Medienmagazin pro (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

The leaders of Germany's biggest conservative party will support Armin Laschet to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor candidate at the next election.

CSU's Markus Söder told the party leadership meeting that he was against a hasty decision, and called for talks with the CDU at the end of the week.

Regional News • Europe • France
France bans domestic flights along many TGV routes
France bans domestic flights along many TGV routes
Credit: unsplash.com / William Hook

The French parliamentarians voted by a majority for a ban on domestic flights on routes that can be covered by train in less than two and a half hours. Flights from Paris to Lyon or Bordeaux could thus soon be a thing of the past.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire had already voiced such ideas in May 2020, when state aid for AirFrance-KLM was decided. The weekend's vote picks up on these plans and aims to help reduce CO₂ emissions permanently - even if the air travel industry picks up again after the global pandemic. The ban is part of a broader climate law that aims to reduce French carbon dioxide emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Regional News • Europe • France
Macron dissolves French elite university École Nationale d'Administration
École Nationale d'Administration
École Nationale d'Administration Credit: Fred Romero (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

French President Emmanuel Macron is closing the elite French university École Nationale d'Administration, or Ena for short, as he announced on Thursday. The elite cadre school is to be replaced by the Institute of Public Service (ISP).

The aim of the reform is to make the French civil service "more efficient, more transparent and more benevolent", according to sources close to the president. In addition, more young people from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds are to be recruited for the civil service. The "social lift" works "less well today than it did 50 years ago", Macron had complained at the beginning of this year.

Regional News • Europe
Russia threatens to intervene in eastern Ukraine

The Kremlin has threatened military intervention in eastern Ukraine. In the event of a flare-up of fighting, Russia will not stand idly by and watch a possible "human catastrophe", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Interfax agency.

Russia will take measures to protect its citizens, he added. Peskov also said there was a concentration of Russian troops in the region because the country's security was at stake.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austrian President Van der Bellen receives first dose of Covid-19 vaccine
Austrian President Van der Bellen receives first dose of Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Screenshot via Twitter, @vanderbellen

Alexander Van der Bellen, the president of Austria, has received his first dose of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine on Friday, he announced on Twitter, adding it was "just a little prick".

"I hope there will soon be enough vaccine so that everyone who wants to can get vaccinated. Because every vaccination counts and is a contribution to normalization - so that we can hopefully soon meet again without worrying, sit together and chat," he added.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Hong Kong activist Nathan Law receives asylum in Great Britain
Hong Kong activist Nathan Law receives asylum in Great Britain
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / Nathan Law

The prominent activist Nathan Law left the country nine months ago because he faces political persecution in Hong Kong, Now he has been granted political asylum in Britain.

The 27-year-old former opposition MP reported on Twitter that his application had been approved after four months of consideration. "The fact that I am being sought under the National Security Act shows that I face severe political persecution and am unlikely to be able to return to Hong Kong without risk."

Regional News • Europe • European Union
France starts Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Coronavirus vaccine production
France starts Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Coronavirus vaccine production
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

France has started producing the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Coronavirus vaccines to increase production in the European Union. Drug manufacturer Delpharm is producing the Pfizer/BioNTech in its plant in Saint-Rémy-sur-Avre. CDMO Recipharm is producing the Moderna vaccine in its facility in the Loire Valley.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Prince Philip has died aged 99
Prince Philip
Prince Philip Credit: Royal Family (Twitter Reproduction)

Buckingham Palace announced Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth II's husband, has died aged 99.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany reports 650.000 Covid-19 vaccinations in a single day - highest number so far
Germany reports 650.000 Covid-19 vaccinations in a single day - highest number so far
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

On Wednesday, the number of Covid-19 vaccinations in Germany reached a new high: 656,357 doses were administered according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) - 290,000 more than the previous day. This means that around 11.5 million citizens have now received at least one vaccination against Covid-19. 4.7 million people - and thus 5.7 percent of the population - are now fully vaccinated.

Regional News • Europe
Kosovo: Vjosa Osmani elected as new president
Kosovo: Vjosa Osmani elected as new president
Credit: Kuvendi i Republikës së Kosovës, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Former Kosovar parliament speaker Vjosa Osmani was elected the country's new president on Sunday. 71 lawmakers out of the 120-seat parliament voted in favour of Osmani. The 38-year-old is the second female president of Kosovo.

Regional News • Europe • Russia
Putin signs law allowing him 2 more terms as Russia's President
Vladimir Putin has been sworn in as President of Russia (2018)
Vladimir Putin has been sworn in as President of Russia (2018) Credit: The Presidential Press and Information Office (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a law allowing him to potentially hold onto power until 2036, a move that formalizes constitutional changes endorsed in a vote last year.

Putin, who turns 69 this year, is currently serving his fourth presidential term, set to end in 2024. The new legislation, announced on Monday, could allow him to serve two more six-year terms, should he choose to stand for and win reelection both times.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German CDU chair Armin Laschet calls for harder lockdown
German CDU chair Armin Laschet calls for harder lockdown
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) State Premier Armin Laschet called for a harder lockdown on Monday as Germany struggles to contain a third wave of the coronavirus. The chairman of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and one of her potential successor as chancellor said that Germany needed harder lockdown measures to stem a rise in cases of Covid-19.

"We need a bridge lockdown. We have to build a bridge to the point in time when a lot of people are vaccinated," Laschet told.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Berlin imposes €3,4 million in fines over illegal holiday flats
Berlin imposes €3,4 million in fines over illegal holiday flats
Credit: unsplash.com/Gilly

Berlin districts have imposed fines in the millions against providers of unauthorised holiday flats since 2018. In seven districts of the capital alone, the sum amounted to 3.4 million euros, according to a survey by the news agency dpa among the twelve district offices, nine of which responded. Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg holds the largest share.

Anyone who wants to rent out their flat as a holiday home has needed a permit for this in Berlin since 2014. The corresponding law was tightened by the Senate in 2018. Since then, even those providers who only want to sublet a room to tourists need at least a registration number. They need a further permit if the room is at least half the size of the entire flat.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Data reveals over a million people in the UK suffer from Long-Covid
Data reveals over a million people in the UK suffer from Long-Covid
Credit: unsplash.com/engin akyurt

UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) has stated that roughly 1.1 million people in the United Kingdom are suffering from Long Covid, also known as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), chronic COVID syndrome (CCS) and long-haul COVID.

“The Office for National Statistics estimates that over a million people in the UK were reporting symptoms associated with long Covid at the beginning of March 2021, with over two-thirds of these individuals having had (or suspecting they had) Covid-19 at least 12 weeks earlier," so Ben Humberstone, head of health and life events at the ONS. "An estimated 674,000 people reported that their symptoms have negatively impacted on their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities. People who tested positive for Covid-19 are around eight times more likely to suffer prolonged symptoms than observed in the general population.”

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German President Steinmeier vaccinated with AstraZeneca
German President Steinmeier vaccinated with AstraZeneca
Credit: Адміністрація Президента України, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the president of Germany, has been vaccinated with AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine at the Bundeswehr Hospital in Berlin on Thursday, his office reported.

"I trust the vaccines approved in Germany," Steinmeier said in a statement. "Today I received my first vaccination with AstraZeneca. Vaccination is the crucial step on the way out of the pandemic. Take advantage of the opportunities. Get involved!"

Regional News • Europe • Italy
Italy entered a three-day Easter lockdown amid vaccination snags
Italy entered a three-day Easter lockdown amid vaccination snags
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Italy entered a three-day nationwide coronavirus lockdown Saturday to deter Easter travel and get-togethers even as the country's variant-fueled spike in new infections began to wane.

The government had announced last month that it would place all regions into the strictest "red zone" lockdown over the Easter weekend to limit the chances of contagion, taking the same precautions it enforced over Christmas and New Year's. But because Italian hospitals in most regions are still well over their Covid-19 capacity in both intensive care units and other wards, the ministry concluded that new infections were still "too high ... to allow any reduction in current restrictive measures."

Regional News • Europe
New militarized clashes reported in eastern Ukraine

The war in the eastern Ukrainian Donbas region continues. Yesterday, the OSCE extended its observation mandate in Ukraine by one year. But their job on the front line is not getting any easier: the Ukrainian army reported eight enemy shellings yesterday, the breakaway "Donetsk People's Republic" two. Grenade launchers and heavy machine guns were used.

The OSCE has already registered almost 14,000 violations since the ceasefire began in summer 2020. Just last Friday, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed. "We have to answer fire," the newspaper Levy Bereg quotes Kiev parliamentarian Sergiy Rakhmanin as saying. "The snipers should work without having to wait for orders."

Regional News • Europe • Russia
Russian opposition politician Navalny is going on hunger strike in protest against prison conditions
Alexey Navalny in 2020
Alexey Navalny in 2020 Credit: Michał Siergiejevicz, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Alexei Navalny has started a hunger strike in prison, according to his own statement. "I have gone on hunger strike so that the law is respected and a doctor of my choice is allowed to visit me," Navalny shared on Instagram. The 44-year-old says he suffers from severe back pain that radiates to his right leg, where it causes paralysis. Doctors and his lawyers fear that he could lose the leg.

His associates had also recently expressed concern about his health. "I am now lying hungry, but still with both legs," said Navalny in the article, which was published via his lawyers. He has the right to a doctor and medication, but is receiving neither.

Regional News • Europe • France
France goes into third national, month-long lockdown
France goes into third national, month-long lockdown
Credit: OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS

President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday a third national, month-long lockdown for France starting Saturday. All schools, nurseries and universities will be closed until April 26th. The country will resume reopening from Mid-May on with strict rules.

Macron: "I know that there is a lot of weariness, fatigue. I know that there is also sometimes nervousness, anger. The success of this month of April and of this strategy depends on each of us, on our spirit of responsibility. This is how we can rebuild this path of hope, the one that will allow us to gradually find a life again. normal."

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Berlin Senate decides on stricter contact restrictions from Good Friday
Berlin Senate decides on stricter contact restrictions from Good Friday
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Berlin Senate agreed on Thursday on stricter contact restrictions from Good Friday. The governing mayor Michael Müller (SPD), announced this after a Senate meeting. According to this, Berliners are initially only allowed to be outside alone or in pairs between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Over Easter, the previous regulations with a maximum of five people from two households will remain. In both cases, children up to the age of 14 are not counted.

Michael Müller (SPD), the governing mayor, defended the stricter rules at a press conference after a senate meeting on Thursday afternoon. "Infections arise through direct contacts in the professional, school and private environment.

Regional News • Europe
WHO says European vaccine rollout is "unacceptably slow"
WHO says European vaccine rollout is "unacceptably slow"
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a statement, saying that "speeding up vaccination roll-out is crucial as new cases in the WHO European Region are increasing in every age group, apart from one."

Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, stated that vaccines are highly effective in preventing infections, but the "roll-out of these vaccines is unacceptably slow". Kluge is recommending "the same public health and social measures as we have in the past to compensate for delayed schedules" and added, "we must speed up the process by ramping up manufacturing, reducing barriers to administering vaccines, and using every single vial we have in stock, now."

“Only 5 weeks ago, the weekly number of new cases in Europe had dipped to under 1 million, but now the Region’s situation is more worrying than we have seen in several months. There are risks associated with the increased mobility and gatherings over the religious holidays. Many countries are introducing new measures that are necessary and everyone should follow as much as they can,” said Dr Dorit Nitzan, Regional Emergency Director for the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany restricts use of AstraZeneca vaccine to over 60s in most cases
Germany restricts use of AstraZeneca vaccine to over 60s in most cases
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn and the 16 state health ministers on Tuesday decided to suspend the routine use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under age 60 at an emergency meeting. The decision came amid fresh concern over unusual blood clots reported in a tiny number of younger people who received the vaccine.

Several European countries briefly suspended the use of the vaccine earlier this month, albeit in that instance for more elderly people rather than the young, but resumed jabs after EU regulators said the shot was safe for use.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Entry by air to Germany from now on only possible with a negative Covid-19 test result
Entry by air to Germany from now on only possible with a negative Covid-19 test result
Credit: unsplash.com / reisetopia

As of today, entry by air to Germany is only possible with a negative Covid-19 test. A corresponding amendment to the Coronavirus Entry Regulation came into force at midnight. The new regulation applies regardless of the Corona situation in the country from which someone is flying to Germany. The test may be no more than 48 hours old at the time of entry. The measure is limited until 12 May.

Regional News • Europe
Sweden to end travel ban for people travelling from Norway and Denmark on March 31
Sweden to end travel ban for people travelling from Norway and Denmark on March 31
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Swedish government said it would end the travel ban for people travelling from Norway and Denmark to Sweden on March 31. All people travelling to Sweden will still need a negative Covid-19 test to enter the country.

"This means, among other things, that Norwegians and Danes can travel to their holiday homes in Sweden and that families and friends across borders can meet each other," Mikael Damberg, Minister of the Interior, told a news conference.