The latest corona state for Berlin (tallied Tuesday, 16 February)
New cases in one day: +296 (196 Monday)
Total number of corona deaths: 2,645 (+25 over Monday)
🟢 R number: 0.81 (0.94 Monday)
🔴 New infections per week: 56.3/100,000 inhabitants (56.7 Monday)
🟡 Share of Berlin ICUs occupied by Covid-19 patients: 21.9 per cent (21.1 per cent Monday)
Source: Berlin's coronavirus status page
The lowdown ...
Free rapid tests for all?
German health minister Jens Spahn says he wants fast antigen corona tests to be made available to all from 1 March, thanks to an increased supply. "All citizens should be able to be tested free of charge by trained personnel with rapid antigen tests," he told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. Local authorities could commission test centres or pharmacies with such services, he said. The federal government will pick up the tab.
Meanwhile, talking on ARD TV on Tuesday, economy minister Peter Altmeier said he believed rapid tests could be "helpful" in getting restaurants reopened this spring. In the same interview he warned that reopening too quickly could spark a third wave of corona which could be disastrous for the economy.
Drosten praise for AstraZeneca
Doubts about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine are unfounded, said virologist Christian Drosten on the NDR-Info Coronavirus-Update podcast Tuesday. "There's always a hair in the soup somewhere, and some people look at it with a magnifying glass," Drosten quipped, referring to German nitpicking about the vaccine. Recently the health minister of the state of Saarland pointed out that 54 per cent of people scheduled to receive the AstraZeneca shot hadn't shown up – and didn't cancel – suggesting widespread fears about the innoculation.
The Spargel will be harvested!
Jürgen Jakobs, head of the Beelitz Asparagus Association told Tagesspiegel he's getting positive feedback from workers from eastern Europe about their readiness to come and help out with this year's harvest of the tender stalks that Brandenburg is famous for. Last year around 2o per cent of the normal number of seasonal workers from Poland and Romania didn't show up, apparently spooked by the pandemic. Jakobs said farmers faced additional costs of about €800 per worker - due to strict hygiene rules and the need for more spacious accomodation to reduce the risk of infection.
In case you missed it ....
According to a new survey, most female politicians in Germany have been targeted by hate speech. Tanja Brandes reports.
That's all for now, folks. Stay safe!
The Berliner Zeitung English team