🚥 The latest corona stats for Berlin (tallied Thursday, 17 December)
New cases in one day: 1,473 (1,283 Wednesday)
Total number of corona deaths: 958 (+30 over Wednesday)
🟢 R number: 0.81 (0.89 Wednesday)
🔴 New infections per week: 199.3/ 100,000 inhabitants (197.3 Wednesday)
Source: Berlin's coronavirus status page
All I want for Christmas is a DHL delivery
Christmas is just a week away - and becaue of corona, far more people are buying gifts online. Mail service DHL says it expects to ship a total of 1.8 billion parcels over the festive period, a rise of around 20 per cent from last year. That means hard work for Berlin's delivery drivers - half a million packages are being delivered in the capital every day. The high demand has apparently created 3,000 new jobs.
Spahn's plahn to start vaccines in 10 days
European approval of the Pfizer and Biontech vaccines is expected on 21 December, and health minister Spahn expects the first jabs to be administered in Germany on 27 December. Berlin's six immunisation centres are almost ready, but the vaccine will also be going to care homes as an early priority. Read more about how it will all work here.
State of emergencé
Ahead of an anticipated further climb in Covid cases, Berlin's Charité hospital is reducing its operations to a "pure emergency plan" from Monday, to continue over Christmas and the New Year. That means a pause on scheduled procedures and occupancy reduced by 300 beds - but major surgeries and emergency services will not be restricted. Chief medical officer Ulrich Frei said there are "difficult weeks ahead", and that this is the only way for the hospital to meet growing intensive care demand due to short staffing.
Brandenburg patients coming to Berlin
Following a request for help from Brandenburg health minister Ursula Nonnemacher (Grüne), around 50 Covid patients from Berlin's neighbour state will be moved to various hospitals in the city this morning. It's part of an agreement dividing Germany into five "cloverleaf" support regions that will help each other absorb patient overloads. Berlin is in a leaf with Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia.
In case you missed it...
Covid means lots of Berliners will be spending Christmas here, rather than at home with family - especially if that's abroad. We met the shopkeepers selling the products that remind Wahlberliner of home.
That's all for now, folks. Stay safe!
The Berliner Zeitung English team