The latest corona stats for Berlin (tallied Sunday, 21 February)
New cases in one day: +73 (252 Saturday)
Total number of corona deaths: 2,728 (+1 over Saturday)
🟢 R number: 1.2 (1.06 Saturday)
🔴 New infections per week: 56.5/100,000 inhabitants (54.9 Saturday)
🟡 Share of Berlin ICUs occupied by Covid-19 patients: 20.7 per cent (21.6 per cent Saturday)
Source: Berlin's coronavirus status page
The lowdown ...
Calls for teacher jabs grow louder as schools open
After calls from unions and experts, German education minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) says teachers and Kita staff should be bumped up vaccination priority lists. At the moment they are in the third group ("increased priority"), which won't be offered jabs until summer. "Both professional groups perform tasks that are of great importance to our entire society, which should be reflected in vaccination prioritisation," Karliczek said.
It comes as pupils return to school in 10 out of Germany's 16 states today - although it's only grades 1 and 3 for now in Berlin. Schools minister Sandra Scheeres (SPD) defended the city's plan as "cautious and careful". The official vaccination plan would have to be changed to prioritise teachers, but health minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has already lent his support - so decisive news could come out of the health ministers' virtual conference today.
Third wave incoming? Müller urges caution
Today's partial school opening is coinciding with fears of a third wave of corona - R numbers and infection rates in Berlin and across Germany have risen in recent days. Mayor Michael Müller (SPD) told the Berliner Zeitung on Sunday: "I am very concerned about the development... the renewed rise in infection figures illustrates why we have been so cautious in opening steps and must continue to be." More infectious virus mutations, which now account for around 1 in 5 corona diagnoses in Germany, are causing particular concern.
Medical staff more willing to get vaccine
When Germany's vaccination efforts began, news that medical and care workers were surprisingly unwilling to get the jab sparked troubled headlines. But that now seems to be in reverse, with clinics reporting uptake as high as 90 per cent - a few months ago, willingness to get vaccinated was as low as 30-40 per cent in some care homes and clinics. "These people know what can happen if you have Covid-19," said Emil Reisinger, a tropical medicine specialist from Rostock University Hospital.
In case you missed it ....
While Germany is focused on corona, a dramatic situation is ongoing in Uganda, with opposition activists and journalists targeted following January's presidential election. Read an interview with a reporter on the ground here, submitted via our Open Source project.
That's all for now, folks. Stay safe!
The Berliner Zeitung English team