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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.

Regional News • Europe • France
Historian's Report: France Shares Responsibility for Genocide in Rwanda

France bears a "grave and overwhelming share of responsibility" for the genocide, says the 1,200-page report prepared by historian Vincent Duclert and 12 collaborators for the attention of Emmanuel Macron.

It says French authorities "failed" during the four years of escalation in Rwanda: they "strengthened" the corrupt, racist dictatorship in the capital, Kigali, and themselves pursued an "ethnicist" view of the conflict. Specifically, France had trained the Rwandan army - from whose circles the Hutu killers came - and supplied it with "considerable quantities of weapons and ammunition."

However, the Duclert report also states that France did not directly equip the murder gangs. Rather, Paris "did not understand" what was going on in Rwanda. There was therefore no actual complicity in the genocide. In short, the report, for which the authors had unrestricted access to the archives, including those of the Élysée Palace, concludes that there was joint responsibility, but not joint guilt.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Arrest warrant issued for suspect in German politics mask affair
Arrest warrant issued for suspect in German politics mask affair
Credit: Mika Baumeister

Union politicians and several businessmen are alleged to have received several million euros as commission for brokering protective masks to ministries. The affair has been exposed - now the Munich Public Prosecutor's Office has applied for an arrest warrant against one of the accused. This was reported by several news agencies and the Bayerischer Rundfunk.

The accused was arrested on Thursday, the investigating authority announced. The investigators did not give a name.

Regional News • Europe
UK health minister admits preferential treatment from AstraZeneca
UK health minister admits preferential treatment from AstraZeneca
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler.

As 29 million apparently hoarded AstraZeneca vaccine doses have been traced in Italy, Britain's health minister Matt Hancock has conceded preferential treatment for his country by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company.

"I believe that free trading nations follow contract law," Hancock told the Financial Times. "Our treaty trumps theirs. It's called contract law and it's clear," he said, referring to the dispute between the EU and AstraZeneca over cut supply volumes.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Santander Bank to Close 111 UK branches
Santander Bank to Close 111 UK branches
Credit: Rodhullandemu, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Santander has announced it will close 111 UK branches as the company will shift its focus to mobile and online banking amid increasing numbers of customers visiting bank branches. The decision affects around 840 employees, but Santander promised to offer them different jobs within its company.

Regional News • Europe
EU tightens Covid-19 vaccine export controls
EU tightens Covid-19 vaccine export controls
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

New regulations announced Wednesday will make it easier to halt shipments of Covid-19 vaccines outside of the EU. The new rules were announced as a report emerged about 29 million AstraZeneca doses that were found during an inspection of a bottling plant in Italy.

The European Commission had negotiated vaccine supply contracts on behalf of the 27 EU member states, and Brussels has been frustrated by the slow pace of deliveries. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson took note of the new EU rules without mentioning vaccines but saying they could influence companies' decisions on where to invest.

Regional News • Europe
Polish writer faces 3 years in prison for calling Poland's Andrzej Duda a ‘moron’ on Facebook
Polish President Andrzej Duda
Polish President Andrzej Duda Credit: Lukas Plewnia (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

A popular Polish writer is facing a potential sentence of up to three years in prison for calling Polish President Andrzej Duda a "moron" on social media.

Jakub Zulczyk wrote on Facebook on Monday that a district prosecutor in Warsaw had filed an indictment against him based on an article in the penal code that makes it a crime to insult the head of state.

Duda's spokesman, Blazej Spychalski, told the Interia news site Tuesday that neither the president nor his office were parties in the matter and had made no request for the writer to be charged.

Regional News • Europe
AstraZeneca hid 29 million doses of vaccines in a facility near Rome
AstraZeneca hid 29 million doses of vaccines in a facility near Rome
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Italian inspectors found a secret stock of 29 million doses of the AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccine in a filling plant of the company near Rome. AstraZeneca delivered around 30 million doses to the EU so far, but promised three times as much. The EU Commission is now demanding accountability.

Regional News • Europe • France
France to reopen embassy in Tripoli on Monday
Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron Credit: Official LEWEB Photos (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that Paris would reopen its embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli next Monday to show its support for the new authorities.

Speaking alongside Mohammed al-Menfi, the head of the Libyan presidency council, Macron said France and its European partners would back Libya's political efforts and called for Turkish and Russian forces to leave the country as soon as possible.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany reverses extended 'Easter lockdown' after criticism
Germany reverses extended 'Easter lockdown' after criticism
Credit: Bundeskanzlerin

After massive criticism, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has decided to put a stop to the extended 'Easter lockdown' that had been planned to go from Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday. This was announced by Merkel on Wednesday in a meeting with the Minister-Presidents of the federal states, which was convened at short notice, as SPIEGEL learned from several participants. At the federal-state roundtable on Monday, Merkel and the heads of the states had initially agreed on a comprehensive cut over the Easter holidays.

Regional News • Europe • France
France: Coronavirus vaccination open to everyone over 70 from Saturday on
France: Coronavirus vaccination open to everyone over 70 from Saturday on
Credit: unsplash.com/Mat Napo

France will move on to Phase 2 of Coronavirus vaccination. Appointments will be authorized for all people over 70 from Saturday March 27th on, Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday. The country now has "an acceleration of the delivery of the number of doses and therefore we can move on to a second phase of more massive vaccination," Macron said.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany to impose a strict lockdown during Easter
Germany to impose a strict lockdown during Easter
Credit: Bundeskanzlerin (Public Domain)

Chancellor Angela Merkel and German state leaders have agreed on an even stricter shutdown over the Easter holidays. From April 1 to April 5, over the Easter holiday period, shops, including grocery stores, will largely have to close.

Tuesday's announcement marks a reversal from earlier this month when state leaders agreed to begin a cautious reopening process.

According to Germany's Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI), the seven-day incidence rate stood at 107 on Monday, above the 100 threshold at which hospitals often become overwhelmed.

Regional News • Europe • France
France's vaccination chief says he expects country's return to normalcy by autumn
France's vaccination chief says he expects country's return to normalcy by autumn
Credit: unsplash.com/Yao Hu

Alain Fischer, France's vaccination chief, said Monday that he excepts a return to some kind of "normal" life by either Summer or Autumn. France has just resumed use of the AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccine last week and Prime Minister Jean Castex received the first dose of the vaccine on Thursday.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
UK Administered 844,285 Covid-19 Vaccines in One Day – Daily Record
UK Administered 844,285 Covid-19 Vaccines in One Day – Daily Record
Credit: unsplash.com/Grooveland Designs

Saturday saw a daily record in Covid-19 vaccinations, with 844,285 first and second doses administered in one day on Saturday. The number was later confirmed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Buckingham Palace considers hiring diversity chief amid racism allegations
Buckingham Palace considers hiring diversity chief amid racism allegations
Credit: Carfax2, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Buckingham Palace has said that it is considering appointing a diversity chief, acknowledging that "more needs to be done" when it comes to diversity.

“This is an issue which has been taken very seriously across the royal households. We have the policies, the procedures and programmes in place but we haven’t seen the progress we would like and accept more needs to be done, we can always improve," a Royal source said. “Therefore we are not afraid to look at new ways of approaching it. The work to do this has been under way for some time now and comes with the full support of the family.”

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German Member of the Bundestag Karin Strenz dies on flight back from Cuba
German Member of the Bundestag Karin Strenz dies on flight back from Cuba
Credit: Von Olaf Kosinsky - Eigenes Werk / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Karin Strenz, a member of the Bundestag, died on a flight from Cuba to Germany. According to media reports, the crew of the plane decided to make an emergency landing in Ireland's capital Dublin. Last year the German Bundestag lifted the politician's immunity because the public prosecutor's office was investigating her on suspicion of corruption.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Bird flu suspicion: 30,000 hens must be killed in Germany
Bird flu suspicion: 30,000 hens must be killed in Germany
Credit: unsplash.com / Zosia Korcz

Due to the suspicion of avian influenza (bird flu), 30,000 hens have to be killed in Delbrück (Germany). On Monday morning, this will be done by fumigation with carbon dioxide, the district of Paderborn announced on Sunday. According to the avian influenza ordinance, the animals in the epidemic flock must already be killed if there is a clear clinical suspicion. In addition, a surveillance zone is set up around the suspected infection area, where chickens, ducks, geese and other poultry on other farms must remain in their enclosures.

Regional News • Europe
Iceland opens borders to vaccinated travellers
Iceland opens borders to vaccinated travellers
Credit: unsplash.com / Hari Nandakumar

Iceland has opened its borders to travellers who are fully vaccinated or can produce confirmation of a prior infection on March 18, the first European country to do so.

“The world has been through a lot in the past twelve months, and we are all hoping for a slow and safe return to normalcy. This also includes the resumption of the opportunity to travel, which is valuable to culture, trade and enterprise. The decision to apply border exemptions for vaccinated individuals to countries outside the EU/EEA area is a logical extension of our current policy,” says Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
British Covid-19 mutation 90 percent prevalent in Vienna

According to the Agency for Health and Food Safety (Ages), the more infectious mutant recently accounted for 76 percent of positive tests nationwide. In Vienna, the proportion is already 90 percent. Vienna is also likely to have recently surpassed Tyrol in terms of new infections with the South African variant B.1.351.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German Robert-Koch-Institute warns of "tough weeks" as Covid-19 case numbers rise
Covid Test Center in Cologne, Germany
Covid Test Center in Cologne, Germany Credit: © Raimond Spekking (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Lars Schaade, Vice President of the Robert-Koch-Institute (RKI), has warned that Germany is facing "another tough few weeks" as Covid-19 cases rise and hospitals are "heavily burdened". Germany has seen an increase in infections with the more potent B.1.1.7. strain and Schaade warns of an "exponential" rise in cases that could potentially overwhelm hospitals.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany could imagine signing deal for Sputnik V shot, minister says
Sputnik V delivered to Argentina
Sputnik V delivered to Argentina Credit: Casa Rosada (Public Domain)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday he would be in favour of signing a national supply deal with Russia for its Sputnik V vaccine for Covid-19.

"I can also well imagine that we conclude contracts - and conclude them quickly," Spahn told a weekly news conference, adding that Germany was in close contact with Russia on questions to do with the vaccine. A prerequisite, however, is that there is more detail on how many doses could be delivered, he said.

Regional News • Europe • France
France: Four-week-lockdown for certain regions starts Friday
France: Four-week-lockdown for certain regions starts Friday
Credit: unsplash.com/Fran Boloni

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a four-week lockdown for 16 regions, including Paris, the Île-de-France region, Hauts-de-France and parts of la Normandie, will start Friday at midnight. Essential stores and schools will remain open and the curfew will start at 7pm. The lockdown is imposed to prevent a third wave.

Regional News • Europe • France
Lawmakers in France approve consent law

Members of the lower house of parliament unanimously approved France's consent laws on Monday. The minimum age of sexual consent is now set at 15. Sexual intercourse with children under that age will considered rape and will be punishable with up to 20 years in jail.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
UK supply of Covid-19 vaccine hit by India delivery delay
UK supply of Covid-19 vaccine hit by India delivery delay
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

A spokesperson for the Serum Institute said: "Five million doses had been delivered a few weeks ago to the UK, and we will try to supply more later, based on the current situation and the requirement for the government immunisation programme in India."

The supply issues could affect infection rates but should not impact hospital admissions, as those who are most vulnerable to Covid-19 were being prioritised for the jab.

Regional News • Europe
Party of Prime Minister Rutte wins the election in the Netherlands
Party of Prime Minister Rutte wins the election in the Netherlands
Credit: Minister-president Rutte from Nederland (+31) / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his right-wing liberal party VVD have won the parliamentary elections. According to the first forecasts on the TV channel NOS on Wednesday evening, the VVD will be by far the strongest force in the Second Chamber of Parliament with about 23 percent and 35 of the 150 seats. Rutte could become head of government for the fourth time after ten years.

Regional News • Europe • Russia
Convicted Kremlin critic Navalny reports from prison camp
Convicted Kremlin critic Navalny reports from prison camp
Credit: Courtesy of Instagram

Around one and a half months after an internationally heavily criticised court ruling, Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been taken to a Russian prison camp. He is being held in the Vladimir region about 100 kilometres east of Moscow, Navalny wrote on Instagram. Although he believes the numerous media reports about torture in the camp, he has so far not been able to observe any violence, the 44-year-old wrote. He himself is under constant surveillance, with cameras everywhere. "But if you take it with humour, it is possible to live."

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Covid-19: German cases are growing 'exponentially' again
Covid-19: German cases are growing 'exponentially' again
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The number of coronavirus cases in Germany grew 20% in the past week, as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, an expert at the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI) said Tuesday.

RKI epidemiologist Dirk Brockmann told German broadcaster ARD that the loosening of measures was particularly unhelpful given the exponential growth of the British virus variant B117. And since they're also combined with descriptive terms, the possibilities of creating new words are endless: "hard" and "light" were the most popular, but "yo-yo," referring to ever-changing lockdown rules, was another one, as well as "Flockdown," when heavy snow ("Flocken"=flakes) keeps everyone inside anyway.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Britain's Prince Philip leaves hospital after a month
Prince Philip's and Queen Elizabeth II in 2015
Prince Philip's and Queen Elizabeth II in 2015 Credit: Kiefer (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Prince Philip, 99, returned to Windsor Castle after the 28-night stay, his longest-ever in hospital. Buckingham Palace said the duke was discharged "following treatment for an infection."

The Duke of Edinburgh was admitted to King Edward VII's hospital on February 16. He later underwent a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition.