Germany’s Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has called for tougher penalties for coronavirus rule breakers in view of rising infections in the country.
The minister disclosed this in an interview with dpa on Saturday.
“Anyone who deliberately endangers others must expect that this will have serious consequences for him.
“We must not jeopardize the recovery that is just beginning by accepting a further increase in infections,” he said.
The number of infections reported every day has been on the rise recently, a trend Lothar Wieler, who is Germany’s top official for disease control, described this week as “very worrying.”
Wieler attributed the climb in cases to parts of the general public having become negligent on hygiene and social distancing rules.
On Saturday, the government’s disease control agency reported 955 infections in the past 24 hours. On Friday, the number of new infections registered was 870.
The closely watched R value for the past seven days was 1.19, meaning the virus was continuing to spread.
The vast majority of the population continues to act responsibly, Altmaier told dpa.
“What we are currently experiencing in terms of an increase in risk is essentially due to the careless and sometimes irresponsible misconduct of a very small number of people,” Altmaier said.
“We have to prevent this more effectively than before and act effectively in cases where there are infections and outbreaks: This includes fines and penalties if it is a matter of intent or gross negligence.”
Germany’s 16 states have broad authority in setting coronavirus restrictions, including fines for those who flout them. Rules on maintaining minimum distance and wearing face coverings, for instance, can vary along with the enforcement.
“I strongly advocate that passengers should only be allowed to board buses and trains if they wear a protective mask, or buy one when boarding if they have forgotten their own,” Altmaier said.
“Anyone who travels on buses or trains without a mask is not endangering himself, but others.
”If a party in a cramped basement pub becomes a super-spreading event in violation of all distance and hygiene regulations, this is no trifle and must be punished if necessary,” he added.
In Germany, the total number of people who have died from the coronavirus stands at 9,148.
Since the onset of the crisis, at least 209,653 people in Germany have been confirmed to be infected, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German government’s agency for disease control.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Spain records lower unemployment in July
The Spanish Government on Tuesday said the rate of unemployment declined slightly in July compared to the previous month, in spite drastic measures implemented to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the Labour Ministry, the number of unemployed people declined by 2.3 per cent, or circa 90,000 people, to 3.8 million.
However, analysts were surprised by the result, as predictions had said the number would rise by 20,000.
The figures indicate the Spanish labour market was recovering after unemployment numbers rose by 302,000 in March and 283,000 in April, but only 26,500 additional people were reported unemployed in May and 5,100 in June.
This, they said, marked an ever smaller increase in the rate of unemployment in the country.
The impact of the coronavirus crisis was more apparent in comparison to 2019, however, unemployment in July was 25 per cent higher than in July 2019.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)
Philippine capital, surrounding provinces return to lockdown
More than 27 million people in the Philippines on Tuesday went back under stricter lockdown measures as the Health Department reported a record number of new coronavirus cases.
The department reported 6,352 additional coronavirus infections, pushing the country’s total caseload to 112,593.
The department added that death toll also rose to 2,115, following 11 additional deaths.
Meanwhile, almost half of the additional cases were confirmed in the Metro Manila region, which has been placed under what is locally called modified enhanced community quarantine for the next 15 days.
The protocol was also imposed in the four surrounding provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.
Also, public transport, private and government offices and other commercial services were suspended in the five regions, while people were prohibited from leaving their homes unless for essential trips.
Dine-in services in restaurants were also suspended, and some of the 16 cities in Metro Manila re-imposed a ban on alcohol.
Catholic churches were once again closed to the public, as well as beauty salons and gyms.
Coronavirus cases in the Philippines have been increasing since the government began to ease restrictions in June in a bid to revive the economy.
One of the doctors who joined the call warned that if the infections were not halted, the country would be the next New York City, where people die on stretchers due to lack of space in hospitals.
Health Undersecretary Maria Vergeire urged the public to follow minimum health standards of wearing face masks, frequent handwashing and maintaining physical distance.
“We all know the situation in the country. We all know that as long as there is no vaccine or cure, we have to learn to live with the virus.
“That is why we are always reminding the public to follow health protocols,” she said.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
Study shows number of COVID-19 cases in Italy higher than expected
A study published on Tuesday in Italy showed that six times as many people as officially recorded could have been infected with the coronavirus in the country.
The study, which was conducted by the health ministry and the Statistics Bureau, Istat, found that 1.5 million people (2.5 per cent) of Italy’s population could have developed coronavirus antibodies.
The result is based on tests of 64,660 people, who were chosen as representative samples, between May 15 and July 15.
According to data by the United States Johns Hopkins University, only 248,000 million people were infected with the coronavirus in Italy and 35,000 people died.
Since March, the number of weekly new cases has drastically declined in the Mediterranean country.
The study also showed that there were drastic regional differences with regard to the antibodies.
However, in Lombardy, Italian Northern region that was one of the epicentres of the first outbreak, 7.5 per cent of people had antibodies, while in Southern Italy, the number stood at less than 1 per cent.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
German soldiers set sail for five-month Libyan arms embargo mission
A German frigate carrying 250 soldiers on Tuesday departed at the start of a five-month mission as part of the European Union’s (EU) efforts to enforce a long-flouted Libya arms embargo.
The Hamburg frigate set sail for the Mediterranean from the port city of Wilhelmshaven.
The EU’s Irini mission, launched in May, is tasked with preventing the flow of weapons into war-torn Libya under UN embargo, and gathering information on illegal oil exports from country and disrupting people smuggling in the region.
Cdr. Jan Fitschen said, “We are facing a mission that will present the ship and crew with previously unknown challenges in several respects.
“It is taking place on difficult political and operational terrain.”
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)