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IN NUMBERS: Where are Covid cases rising in Germany – and what does it mean?

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As spring turned into summer and pubs, restaurants and tourist attractions reopened for business, many people in Germany believed that that sunny weather would bring with it a momentary respite from the ongoing pandemic. 

For a few months, the vaccination rollout had been proceeding apace while infection rates were rapidly dropping. But since the country reached its latest lowest 7-day incidence of 4.9 cases per 100,000 residents on July 6th, the trend appears to have taken a U-turn.

READ ALSO: Is Germany facing a Covid fourth wave fuelled by Delta?

Rise in infections accelerating

As of Wednesday, 11.4 infections per 100,000 people had been recorded in the past week. Though infections have only just slid into double digits nationally, experts are looking with concern at the amount of time it has taken for weekly infections to double.

“The time [the 7-day incidence] takes to double has sunk from 15 to 14 days,” wrote Welt reporter Olaf Gersemann. “If this current trend holds, it will be just under two weeks until the number of active coronavirus infections in Germany doubles [again].” 

This would mean that, by the middle of September, the Covid-19 incidence rate could once again soar into the hundreds.

Health Minister Jens Spahn even warned that should the development continue, the incidence could reach 400 infections per 100,000 people in September – and even 800 cases per 100,000 people in October.

For comparison, on September 17th 2020, the 7-day incidence was 11.5 – which is roughly the same as it was on Wednesday. 

In addition, the number of new infections registered within a day rose by 42 percent to more than 2,200, while the average number of daily infections rose by 62 percent to 1,419.

Where are infections going up?

In the step-by-step reopening of public life, states – who are responsible for setting their own Covid rules – have generally opted for a tiered system linked to 7-day incidence.

When the incidence rises above 35 and stays there for more than three days, state governments are required to tighten restrictions, for instance by limiting the number of people allowed at sports events or private gatherings, or re-introducing testing requirements for indoor gastronomy. 

Though the nationwide incidence is currently 11.4, infections aren’t distributed evenly across the country: some districts are registering barely any infections, while other parts of the country have already surpassed the 35 or even the 50 mark.

Here are the districts in Germany where the incidence were highest on July 21st – and where restrictions could be reintroduced just a few weeks after they were scrapped. 

  • Birkenfeld (Rhineland-Palatinate): 63
  • Solingen (North Rhine-Westphalia): 45
  • Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg (Berlin): 40.4 
  • Berlin Mitte (Berlin): 35.2
  • Kaiserslautern (Rhineland-Palatinate): 35
  • Frankfurt am Main (Hesse): 33.8
  • Amberg (Bavaria): 33.1
  • Dusseldorf (North-Rhine Westphalia): 33
  • Darmstadt (Hesse): 32.5
  • Bamberg (Bavaria): 31 
  • Grafschaft Bentheim (Lower Saxony): 29.9

On a state level, the state with the highest incidence is Berlin, which registered 21.8 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days. The two states with the lowest incidences were Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania and Saxony, with incidences of 2.9 and 3 respectively.


Source: Robert Koch Institute

What rules could change in these areas?

In Rhineland-Palatinate, the district of Birkenfeld – which currently has the highest 7-day incidence of anywhere in Germany, tighter restrictions have already come into force. Outdoor events are now only allowed with up to 500 spectators, while up to 350 are permitted indoors. If the situation remains the same, school pupils will also have to wear masks in classrooms and around the school when they return after the summer break. 

READ ALSO: ‘Nobody can rule out enormous fourth wave’: German schools fear new Covid restrictions

In North Rhine-Westphalia, a 7-day incidence of more than 35 puts a district back at stage two of the state’s four-step reopening scheme. At this stage, a number of contact restrictions will once again come into force for sports events and private parties. In addition, tests are needed to dine and drink indoors, while shops and supermarkets must only allow in one person per 10 square metres of space in the establishment. 

According to a report in Bild, tighter restrictions could come into force as early as Friday in Solingen. 

READ ALSO: ‘Stage zero’: North Rhine-Westphalia to scrap all contact restrictions on Friday

Unlike in North Rhine-Westphalia, Berlin doesn’t have a set of measures that are formally linked to the incidence – though it does keep a close eye on infection rates in order to respond accordingly. On Saturday July 10th, the city-state lifted a number of contact restrictions, while also easing mask-wearing rules and quadrupling the capacity of clubs from 250 to 1,000. If infections continue to rise as rapidly as they have over the past few weeks, there could be another crackdown on the city’s famous nightlife scene. 

In Bavaria, things are a little bit simpler, as the state uses an ‘over-50’ or ‘under-50’ barometer to decide on its rules. The district with the highest state, Amberg, currently has a 7-day incidence of 33, so it’s still got some way to go. If infections do pass the 50 mark, however, residents of the state can expect contact restrictions to be reintroduced (up to 10 people from three households), in addition to alternating lessons in schools and widespread testing. 


Amberg, in Bavaria, could see its 7-day incidence exceed 50 in the coming weeks. If that happens, it will face further restrictions. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Armin Weigel

In Hesse, the state’s Covid-19 measures follow a colour-coded system very closely linked to the incidence. An incidence of over 35 is colour-coded orange, and could lead to “an expansion and reinforcement of previous measures.

“In particular, measures to restrict contact and the further closure of facilities and operations connected with the outbreak should be considered,” the state says in its public health guidance.

In the state of Lower Saxony, the regional health ministry also follows a step-by-step plan, with incidences of 35 or more equating to ‘Stage 2’. At this stage, only 10 people from up to three households are allowed to meet socially, and residents of the higher incidence district must wear masks in busy outdoor spaces.

Will it really depend on the number of infections?

While the 7-day incidence figure continues to be the primary means of tracking the spread of Covid and setting restrictions, health experts have expressed the view that tracking infections alone may no longer be enough to decide whether lockdown measures and social contract restrictions are appropriate. 

That means that, if hospital admissions and deaths remain low, the country may avoid the type of harsh lockdown it experienced in winter, despite a potential spike in infections. 

Furthermore, authorities say they don’t want to enforce harsh restrictions on fully vaccinated people. But it would be tricky – and controversial – to order lockdowns only for unvaccinated people. 



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HSE staff should receive bonus for work during pandemic, says Donnelly

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All Health Service Executive (HSE) staff, including those working in administrative roles, should get a financial bonus for the work done during the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said.

“I want to see something done, yes, I absolutely really do. I think our healthcare teams have been incredible. We are still fighting the fight, but I definitely want to see some form of recognition for the extraordinary work that they have all put in,” he said.

Speaking after a visit to the HSE’s Limerick Covid-19 vaccination centre at Limerick Racecourse, Patrickswell, Mr Donnelly said: “We need to listen to the frustrations that they have.

“We do need to acknowledge that for nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, administrators – for everyone who has worked in the HSE over the last year and a half – that they’ve had an incredibly difficult time.

“I think they represent the very best of us and they have stepped up to the plate,” he said. “When the rest of us were told to stay at home to keep ourselves safe, they went into the hospitals, and into the Limerick hospital to keep other people safe, and we need to recognise that.”

The arrival of the Delta variant has been delayed by the use of some of the “strongest” lockdown measures in the European Union, but foreign travel now is adding to case numbers.

“We are seeing spikes in some parts of the country. There are cases linked to [international] travel, we know that. Most of the cases we are tracking are Irish people going abroad and coming home,” he said.

Advice

Some people travelled without a vaccination, or before their vaccinations had time to work. “They shouldn’t have done that. Some of them have come back and they have contracted Covid, but we will take care of them, we’ll make sure they get the care they need,” he said.

In “certain cases”, people have received a second dose of vaccine within 17 days of their first jab, as opposed to the previous advice of four weeks, and this may happen more generally, he said.

A HSE spokeswoman later said “For operational reasons and due to the pace of the rollout we are in a position to offer the second dose after 17 days in some cases. Second doses within this widow are clinically safe and effective.”

On the vaccination programme, the Minister said: “There aren’t that many people who would have thought just a few months ago that, in July, we would be vaccinating 16-year-olds.”

There will be no immediate change to rules around attendance at funerals, Masses, Confirmations or Communions, while the closure of indoor summer camps is being kept under review.

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Covid-19: More than half of Austrians now fully vaccinated

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With 53,386 vaccinations carried out on Thursday, Austria cross the 50 percent mark for total vaccinations. 

This means that 4,479,543 people are completely vaccinated against Covid-19 in Austria as at Thursday evening, July 29th. 

A further nine percent of the population have received one vaccination, bringing the total percentage of people who have had at least one shot to 58.9 percent or (5.2 million people). 

UPDATED: How can I get vaccinated for Covid-19 in Austria?

The Austrian government has welcomed the news. 

“More than half of the total population is now very well protected against the coronavirus and thus the highly contagious Delta variant thanks to the full immunisation,” Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said on Thursday afternoon. 

Burgenland has the highest percentage of vaccinated people with 66.1 percent, followed by Carinthia (55.7 percent) and Salzburg (55.2 percent). 

The lowest percentage is in Upper Austria, where 54.9 percent of the population is vaccinated. 

Kleinmürbisch in the Güssing district has the highest percentage of vaccinated people in Austria, with just under 80 percent of people vaccinated. 

The village however only has 230 residents. 

“But we are still a long way from reaching our destination,” warned the minister. 

Around one quarter of the Austrian population has indicated a reluctance to be vaccinated, with around 15 percent saying they will refuse the vaccination. 



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6 Amusing Historic Stereotypes of Major Russian Cities

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About the authorFor lovers of Russian culture, folklore, and history, Kotar’s work is a treasure. The grandson of White Russian immigrants, the 34-year-old is an author of epic fantasy novels inspired by Russian fairy tales. You can see his four books here on Amazon.

He is also a deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church, a professional translator, and choir director at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, where he lives. Here is his bio from his blog, where he writes about many aspects of Russia. We highly recommend following it and subscribing to his email list to get exclusive material.

He has an excellent Pinterest page, and you can follow him on Facebook. Here is an archive of his work published on Russia Insider.

He is currently running a remarkably successful crowdfunding on Kickstarter to be able to publish his upcoming novels. Please support him if you can!


Stereotypes are a funny thing. On the one hand, they’re often no more than caricatures. On the other hand, there’s a surprising amount of bitter truth to some of them. Like the Russians say with their morbid humor, “In every joke, there’s a bit of a joke.”

This is especially interesting when we consider old Rus. We don’t have much to go on, historically speaking, other than chronicles, treaties, and a few bits of birch bark.

However, Russians have preserved some interesting stereotypes about the inhabitants of old Russian cities. Whether there’s any truth to them or not is almost beside the point. They’re fascinating, revealing a window to a world long gone, yet still persisting in the habits and personalities of today’s Russians. (Here’s the original Russian article that I translated)

EVERYONE IN GREAT NOVGOROD IS A REBEL

Novgorod’s rebelliousness is legendary. The image of a brawling Novgorodian is almost a calling card of the city. The reason this stereotype came about has to do with the old chronicles. They were filled with illustrations of the constant arguments at the Novgorodian Veche, a kind of popular assembly that met in the central square. (See my translation of “Martha the Mayoress” for a vivid fictionalized example).

Of course, there were arguments and even fights during the Veche. However, they did not constantly devolve into fist-fights, as the legends suggest. Naturally, the chroniclers would choose the most vivid and bloody examples from history to illustrate their point. After all, Novgorod was often an opponent of Kiev and, later, Moscow. But in actual fact, the inhabitants of Great Novgorod were fiercely loyal to their government and loved their city. Compromise was the order of the day, not broken heads. Plus, they were more than usually literate.

EVERYONE IN PSKOV IS A THIEF OR A MORON

Even in modern times, Pskovians have had to endure countless jokes about their crudeness, stupidity, and their lack of good manners. This may or may not be true. As for their lack of manners, that is entirely a matter of hats. The inhabitants of Pskov, no matter what their social standing, hardly ever doffed their cap before anyone (which is extremely bad form in old Rus). However, this wasn’t crudity or bad breeding.

It used to be that a hat symbolized one’s personal dignity. In Pskov in particular, to actually take off your hat meant to be shamed. It may be a bastardization of the more generally accepted rule that if someone else took your hat off your headthat was a terrible insult.

EVERYONE IN NIZHNI NOVGOROD IS A DRUNKARD

The painful topic of Russian alcoholism became especially relevant in Nizhni Novgorod at the end of the 17th century. A kind of epidemic of alcoholism rose up, and it was normal to see women as well as men lying in the streets in a drunken stupor. Foreign travelers recounted after their visits to Nizhni Novgorod that “Russians don’t do anything but feast.”

Of course, they did more than feast. But on holidays, Russians have always allowed themselves some excesses. It’s not entirely fair to single out Nizhni Novgorod, when alcoholism still is the gravest problem facing Russia today, as in olden times.

EVERYONE IN VLADIMIR IS A CRIMINAL

This stereotype appeared very early. It’s easy to understand. Vladimir itself had five prisons, including the famous “Vladimir Central Prison.” From the beginning, Vladimirians have been considered con artists who like a dangerous life. It didn’t help that the path to Siberia for exiled convicts went through Vladimir. It was even called the “Vladimirka.”

Exiled convicts stopped in Vladimir to have half their heads shaved (a scene vividly recounted in the excellent Russian film The Siberian Barber). Then they’d be branded as exiles or thieves, clapped in irons, and set upon the road to Siberia. In old times, the path could take as long as two years, and those two years were not counted as part of their allotted time.

Vladimir itself, for all that, was a typical enough provincial town.

EVERYONE IN ROSTOV IS AN ARTISAN

When a Russian hears the word “finift’” (enameling), he immediately thinks of Rostov. Nothing could change the old stereotype that every inhabitant of ancient Rostov worked in the enameling guild. That’s complete nonsense, of course. First of all, the best enamellists in old Rus were as a rule in Kiev, the capital city. There were also some famous artisans in Pskov, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, and Great Novgorod.

The only difference is that Rostov alone has preserved the traditional techniques of enameling since ancient times. Even today, there is a factory producing enameled work. Perhaps for this reason alone, tourists still visit Rostov exclusively to see enameled boxes.

THE INDUSTRIOUS YARSOLAVIAN

The industrious muzhik from Yaroslavl is an image that we even find in Gogol. From the times of Rus, Yaroslavians were known as people who were never apathetic, lazy, or prone to tiredness. Instead, they’re known to be active to a manic degree. This may have something to do with the odd tradition that Yaroslav is a city of buried treasure.

Apparently, wherever you turn, you see someone uncovering a jewelry box or trying to break into an ancient chest of drawers. Perhaps a little more seriously, Yaroslavians have long been known as “chicks of the cuckoo.” In other words, they’re more than usually capable of leaving their homeland without much regret. This quality has a clear historical origin.

Yaroslav was built on the crossroads of ancient roads—a path used by merchants from Scandinavia all the way to the Arab lands. From the middle of the 16th century, Yarsolavl became the most important center for trade in all of Rus. This constant movement often inspired young Yaroslavians to try out their luck in foreign lands.

True or not, such stereotypes make for fascinating stories. For myself, the “myth” of the boisterous Novgorodian comes to life in my third novel, The Heart of the World, in a semi-fictionalized setting of the Veche that goes fabulously wrong for all concerned.


Source: Nicholas Kotar

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