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  • Daily Berlin news update: Monday, August 24

Berlin

Daily Berlin news update: Monday, August 24

Berlin’s Corona testing capacity almost exhausted as returning travellers account for less infections. Launch date for improved U5 U-Bahn line, concerns about pop-up bike lanes.

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Berlin’s Corona testing capacity almost exhausted, returning travellers account for less infections, launch date for improved U5 U-Bahn line 

Berlin’s testing capacities for Covid-19 are almost exhausted, especially due to the massive return of travellers from abroad. According to health senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD), Berlin’s testing facilities and supplies are running at 93-percent capacity. The head of the Institute of Virology at Charité University Hospital, Professor Christian Drosten, has recommended Corona tests be discontinued at airports, as the vast quantity is overwhelming Berlin’s laboratories. He says it is more important to focus on testing those with symptoms. Germany’s health ministers will convene this evening to discuss how to move forward. 

Returning travellers are accounting for less of Berlin’s new Covid infections. In the past few weeks, the proportion has been around 50 percent. But, as health senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) pointed out, that percentage has been lowered to 34 percent. She also warned, however, not to underestimate the risk of returning travellers, and stressed that there must be close observation on how the situation develops, especially as Berlin’s overall infections are steadily rising. 

After ten years of construction, the improved U5 line will be put into operation on December 4th, 2020. The new route will connect the gap between Brandenburger Tor and Alexanderplatz, and passengers will now be able to travel from Berlin Hauptbahnhof and Hönow without having to change trains. The new stations Rotes Rathaus, Museumsinsel and Unter den Linden will be also be launched.

Concerns about pop-up bike lanes, launch date for improved U5 U-Bahn line

The introduction of so-called “pop-up bike lanes” in Berlin at the beginning of the Corona pandemic may not have been legally permitted. This has emerged from a report by the Scientific Service in the Berlin House of Representatives, which the FDP commissioned. In addition, the new lanes seem to have failed making the city safer for cyclists: Berlin has reported a four-year record in fatalities. Whether this can only be attributed to the new lanes, however, is unclear. Since the pandemic outbreak, public transport has been used less, making traffic on road, both bikes and cars, increase significantly.

Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader allegedly poisoned last week, is still in Berlin’s Charité Hospital, under the protection of the BKA. “We’re dealing with a patient who fairly likely was poisoned,” German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert told reporters today. Navalny remains in a coma but a source has announced that the political figure will survive the attack. How reliable the source is, and if Navalny will be able to return to his political role, remains to be seen. Navalny was airlifted from Omsk, Siberia to Charité on Saturday.