March 23, 2023

Coronavirus live news: Germany considering lockdown extension; Chile reports record daily cases

South Africa sells 1m AstraZeneca Covid vaccines to African Union; EU rebuffs UK calls to...

South Africa sells 1m AstraZeneca Covid vaccines to African Union; EU rebuffs UK calls to ship AstraZeneca vaccines from Europe

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1.15am GMT

Germany is set to extend a lockdown to contain the Covid pandemic into its fifth month, according to a draft proposal, after infection rates exceeded the level at which authorities say hospitals will be overstretched, Reuters reports.

The recommendation is contained in a draft, seen by Reuters, prepared by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office ahead of Monday’s videoconference of regional and national leaders to decide on the next round of measures to deal with the pandemic.

At their last meeting early this month, the leaders agreed a cautious opening, overriding the objections of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said more infectious variants had made the pandemic hard to control.

The Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases said the number of cases per 100,000 population over a week stood at 103.9 on Sunday, above the 100 threshold at which intensive care units will start running out of capacity.

The draft says lockdown should continue until April 18 and that an “emergency brake” agreed at the last meeting will be applied to halt any further cautious opening measures in areas that exceed 100 per 100,000.

12.55am GMT

Chile has reported its highest daily count of new coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic despite widespread restrictions and widely praised progress on vaccinations, AP reports.

The government on Saturday reported 7.084 new cases in the South American nation of some 18 million people, topping a previous record in June. It said Covid has become the country’s leading cause of mortality, causing 26% of deaths so far this year.

Chile so far has given at least one vaccine shot to more than 29% of the population and both doses to 15% — far more than in other nations in the region. But Health Minister Enrique Paris said people should remain cautious since population-level immunity isn’t likely until about 80% are vaccinated, probably by about the end of June.

Officials said hospital bed usage has reached 94%, with rising numbers among those 60 and below as older Chileans have been inoculated. The medical association said the system has been strained by depression or exhaustion affecting as many as 30% of medical personnel.

The government has imposed supposedly tight restrictions on three-quarters of the country’s municipalities and said Saturday it is tightening limits on people entering from abroad, especially from Brazil.

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