🚥 The latest corona stats for Berlin (tallied Sunday, 3 January)
New cases in one day: 656 (460 Saturday)
Total number of corona deaths: 1,305 (+20 over Saturday)
🟢 R number: 0.86 (0.73 Saturday)
🔴 New infections per week: 129.8/ 100,000 inhabitants (130.7 Saturday)
Source: Berlin's coronavirus status page
One long winter lockdown?
New year, same old pandemic. Despite the low R-number above (the result of the fact that far fewer people were tested over the holidays, apparently) - it looks like we're facing a long hard winter. SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach predicts that the "worst three months of the whole pandemic, with high infection and death rates, lie ahead of us." He said warmer weather and the vaccines could alleviate the situation by April.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) Angela Merkel and the heads of the 16 German states will discuss extending the lockdown beyond 10 January. All indications suggest the current state of affairs will last until 31 January.
Disagreement over schools
Schools and daycares are the major sticking point of the lockdown debate. Bavarian premier Markus Söder (CSU) says "in light of high infection figures, there must be no hasty opening of schools and daycare centres," while others - like the Berlin committee of parents - are pleading for at least a partial opening. This comes amidst heated discussion about the feasibility of online schooling.
In short, it's a huge mess which the state education ministers will attempt to address in a separate meeting today. One idea being fielded is moving the February winter holidays forward into January. For most schoolchildren in Berlin, online schooling resumed today and the earliest that any form of in-person lessons will take place is next week. Hopefully more clarity will emerge by tomorrow. Watch this space.
Astrazeneca to the rescue?
German health minister Jens Spahn (CDU) is pushing for rapid EU approval of the Astrazeneca vaccine that got greenlighted in the UK last week, hoping that it will make up for the failure to order enough Biontech product.
Spahn defended the EU's strategy: "The problem is not the quantity ordered. The problem is the low production capacity at the beginning - with extremely high demand worldwide," Spahn said - sidestepping entirely the fact that places like the United States and Israel managed to order far greater supplies of the German-developed innoculation than Europe.
In case you missed it...
We put together some of our favourite stories of 2020 for you. Have a look!
That's all for now, folks. Stay safe!
The Berliner Zeitung English team