Chaos at airports as Germany bans UK flights, Arena Berlin plans first vaccines
Passengers were stranded at BER airport last night as Germany announced a ban on flights from the UK following the discovery of a new strain of coronavirus in England. There were scenes of chaos at Berlin’s airport terminals as border police stopped passengers who had arrived from London, with non-Germans initially prevented from entering the country. A number of passengers were forced to spend the night in the terminal until they received a negative Corona test result. All flights from the UK to Germany as well as a number of other European countries are currently suspended until further notice, leaving the Christmas plans of thousands in tatters.
Arena Berlin is to administer the city’s first coronavirus vaccines to the general population, Health Senator Dilek Kalayci has announced today. The Treptow events hall is the largest in a network of new vaccination centres set up by the city government in recent weeks. On December 26 Berlin will receive its first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was today approved by the European Medicines Agency. But the first jabs will be given by special mobile units outside nursing homes, with the over 80s the first to be vaccinated. Senator Kalayci would not give precise figures when asked today how many vaccine doses Berlin could expect: “I am a little cautious on the numbers,” the SPD politician said. According to current information, the first delivery for Germany is for 300,000 vaccine doses, suggesting that Berlin will receive around 13,500.
Public urged to avoid Christmas travel, Charité delays planned operations
The Federal Government has reiterated calls for the public not to make unnecessary journeys over the Christmas holidays as Berliners prepare to leave the city to visit family. The government is urging those who can to stay where they are: “Avoid travelling. If at all possible, avoid visiting relatives and friends,” a government spokeswoman said today. While Germany is not planning to introduce a domestic travel ban, persistently high Covid case numbers and the news of a new strain of the virus have led to the stronger warning. “If Christmas is not to contribute to a further worsening of the situation, then it is best that we all stay at home,” the spokeswoman added.
The Charité hospital switched to emergency operating procedures today in an attempt to shore up its Covid-19 care capacity. Under the strategy planned operations will be delayed until after Christmas and New Year as the hospital prepares for another surge in coronavirus patients. “We are still in an unusually severe crisis, the likes of which we have never experienced before,” hospital board member Ulrich Frei said today. The Charité is the main hospital treating patients with severe cases of Covid-19 in Berlin.