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Flensburg Attempts to Slow Down Spread of New Corona Variant

In Flensburg, the British Coronavirus mutation is spreading quickly. The federal state of Schleswig-Holstein is tightening the restrictions in the entire county. A curfew is one of the measures.

Berlin, February 18th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — Germany’s north-western federal state of Schleswig-Holstein has a problem. Just days ago, things looked relatively good. The number of new Coronavirus infections decreased substantially and the Seven Day Incidence Number was in the process of approaching 50. Then the alarm bells went off in Flensburg.

Gatherings Forbidden

The issue: A new Coronavirus variant, known as the “British” one because that is where it spread first, hit the town with around 90,000 inhabitants. Up there at the Danish border, the numbers are exploding. By now, the Incidence number for Flensburg increased to 185.2. This development makes the city and the county around it one of Germany’s main Corona hotspots.

Daniel Günther, the First Minister of Schleswig-Holstein, announced strict measures designed to bring the numbers down. A curfew will be put in place on Saturday. Between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., residents will not be allowed to leave their homes. Meetings or gatherings with people from other households are going to be forbidden.

Masks at Playgrounds

According to Governor Günther, these new rules will have to be adhered to for a week, and they might be prolonged for another one, depending on the situation. He called the situation in Flensburg county “a reason for big worries”, and rightly so.

There are more new rules for Flensburg: People may enter supermarkets on their own only. They will have to wear masks even at playgrounds. Primary schools in Flensburg will not open on Monday, as initially planned. Whether the measures First Minister Günther and the local authorities came up with will have the desired effect is unclear.

All relevant Corona numbers for Germany, and daily Corona updates, can be found in our Corona chronology.

Preview for Germany

The rest of Germany is looking at Flensburg with worries. People are wondering whether what is happening in Flensburg might be a preview of what the entire country will go through soon. Chancellor Angela Merkel talked about the dangers of the new Coronavirus mutation B.1.1.7 many times in the past weeks.

Her Corona policies, including the latest prolongation of the lockdown she and the First Ministers, including Daniel Günther, decided to go for last week, are as strict as they are because of the danger posed by the Corona mutants from Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

Issue with Vaccine

Apart from the issue in Flensburg, which has the potential to spread all over Germany, there is another new problem. It has to do with the third vaccine the European Medicines Agency approved, which is being manufactured by the Swedish-British company AstraZeneca. In Germany, this vaccine is recommended for people under the age of 65.

But, as it turns out, many of those who could be vaccinated with this product, namely hospital staff members and caretakers, do not want this vaccine, for two reasons. It is supposedly less effective than the vaccines made by Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna. And, in some regions in Germany, its use was stopped temporarily because of complaints about side effects.

Safe and Effective

In Berlin, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, this particular vaccine should not be badmouthed. “When a vaccine is approved, it is safe and effective”, he said at a press conference. So far, some 85,000 doses of the AstraZeneca product were used, while more than 700,000 were delivered.

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