Today's Berlin corona news in 60 seconds
+++ Scepticism over Schnelltests +++ Police basketball crackdown +++ Vaccine pregnancy trials +++ Stats +++
The latest corona stats for Berlin (tallied Thursday, 18 February)
New cases in one day: +475 (445 Wednesday)
Total number of corona deaths: 2,702 (+32 over Wednesday)
🟢 R number: 0.66 (0.68 Wednesday)
🔴 New infections per week: 54.6/100,000 inhabitants (53.7 Wednesday)
🟡 Share of Berlin ICUs occupied by Covid-19 patients: 20.5 per cent (21.2 per cent Wednesday)
Source: Berlin's coronavirus status page
The lowdown ...
Spahn's Schnelltests squabble
Berlin is already planning to use quick antigen tests for teachers to keep corona at bay once grades 1 to 3 go back to school on Monday. German health minister Jens Spahn (CDU) also wants quick tests rolled out across the country to doctor's surgeries, pharmacies and in centres with trained staff - even though regulators haven't approved them yet. But Berlin health minister Dilek Kalayci (SPD) is sceptical of the plan: "Who will be invited and how? How will re-tests be organised?" she asked, saying that she hopes for more information in a virtual health ministers' conference today. Wolfgang Kreischer, chairman of the Berlin and Brandenburg General Practitioners' Association, said he saw "big logistical and acceptance problems" in Spahn's plahn.
Police basketball shitstorm
In a pun-laden tweet, the Berliner Polizei described on Thursday how officers broke up a group of youths playing basketball in Schöneberg's Flaschenhalspark, because the game apparently broke corona rules. They were, however, generous enough to spare them a fine. Netizens criticised the police, questioning the crackdown on outdoor sport given its psychological and social benefits during lockdown. Marcel Luthe (independent), local representative in Berlin's parliament, called out those "politically responsible", saying: "Anyone who uses the police against young people playing sports, and at the same time does nothing to counter the steady increase in violent and sexual offences, is out of place."
Pregnant women in vaccine trial
Pharma companies Biontech and Pfizer are launching a clinical trial to examine the effectiveness and safety of their corona jabs on pregnant women, who have so far been exempt from vaccine approval. Around 4,000 women aged 18+ and between their 24th and 34th weeks of pregnancy are taking part - one group will receive a real vaccine, the other a placebo. Researchers are keen to know whether corona anti-bodies can be passed from mother to child in utero. Özlem Türeci, Biontech co-founder and CEO, said: "This can potentially protect both pregnant women themselves and future generations."
In case you missed it ....
Friday night and nowhere to go? Never fear - a new series reinterpreting the iconic and haunting book and film Christiane F: Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo has just landed on Amazon Prime. Read our interview with its creators here.
That's all for now, folks. Stay safe!
The Berliner Zeitung English team