German regional court gave the go-ahead for mass demonstrations planned on Saturday in Berlin against coronavirus curbs, ruling against the capital’s ban on such protests.
Police, who deployed 3,000 officers to control crowds expected to reach 20,000, have prepared for possible violence as activists opposed to the virus measures urge social media followers across Europe to arm themselves and gather in Berlin.
Activists, angered by Berlin’s decision to ban protests after demonstrators at a recent rally failed to wear masks or keep their distance, flooded the city with thousands of applications for additional protest rallies this weekend.
“The gatherings planned by several initiatives for Aug. 29 against the corona policy of the federal and state governments can take place,” the court ruled.
Responding to the ruling, Berlin’s interior minister, Andreas Geisel, said the court had given protesters a second chance to show they can comply with social distancing measures.
“I appeal to everyone to gather in Berlin without violence,” he said.
Querdenken 711, one of the movements behind the protests, urged demonstrators in a YouTube video to “be peaceful and exercise no violence toward the police.”
Until now Germany has managed the coronavirus crisis better than many of its European counterparts, with rigorous testing helping to hold down infections and deaths.
But new daily infections have accelerated in recent weeks, as in much of the world.
On Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged citizens to keep up their guard against the virus.
“This is a serious matter, as serious as it’s ever been, and you need to carry on taking it seriously,” she said.
Protesters gathered before the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin ahead of Saturday’s march with signs reading “Stop the corona lies” and “Merkel must go.”
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 7 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 127,358 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 113,234 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,145.
On only the second day back in class for thousands of Quebec students, problems at several schools — including a temporary shutdown and more than a dozen teachers in quarantine — served to illustrate the challenges ahead for Canadians amid the pandemic.
At Polyvalente Deux-Montagnes in the Lower Laurentians, students in grades 9 and 10 were told to stay home Friday after a teacher tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the second staff member to catch the disease.
The school also placed roughly 20 more teachers in preventive isolation. Students are likely to return to school Monday, if the school can get the replacement staff necessary.
WATCH | What back to school looks like in some Calgary schools:
Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab is cautioning residents to keep their list of personal contacts small as people return to school.
Shahab suggested people should keep their close contacts — anyone they’re within two metres of, not including in a classroom setting — to about 10 people.
“We should be able to count our close contacts on the fingers of our hands,” Shahab said during the government’s COVID-19 update on Friday.
Saskatchewan has the lowest active case rate in western Canada, Shahab said. Shahab also said there are less than five active cases with an unknown source of exposure.
“Schools reflect community transmission,” Shahab said. “So if your community transmission is high, that increases the likelihood of a case or a cluster in a school. So the fact that we have low community transmission is the most important thing we can do to minimize the chance of a case or cluster emerging in school.”
WATCH | Immunologist on difference between infection rates in Canada and the U.S.:
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 24.7 million. More than 837,000 people have died, while 16.2 million have recovered. Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world:
French authorities have made it harder for Tour de France teams to reach the finish line in Paris by deciding they will be expelled from the race if two or more of their members, including staff, test positive for COVID-19 within a week.
Following guidelines issued by the health authorities, the move was announced Saturday by Tour organizers just a few hours before the start of the three-week race’s opening stage in the Riviera city of Nice. It overruled a decision from cycling’s governing body, the UCI, that had eased the Tour’s exclusion rules.
Under the UCI protocol announced Friday, it would have been up to organizers to decide whether to throw a team out after two positive tests, with staff members not counted.
There are 22 squads of eight riders competing at the Tour, but a total of 30 members per team when staff are included.
“From two positive cases in a group of 30, there is a real risk of elimination of a team,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme told France Info radio.
WATCH | France imposes mandatory outdoor masks as COVID-19 surges through Europe:
South Korea recorded its 16th consecutive day of triple digit rises in new coronavirus cases on Saturday, extending a second wave of infections that is fanning concerns about a shortage of hospital beds in Seoul.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) posted 308 new cases as of midnight Friday, the majority of them in the capital and surrounding areas.
Outbreaks have continued to erupt at churches, offices, nursing homes and medical facilities, even after officials tightened social-distancing rules.
The spike in cases has depleted hospital facilities, with the health ministry reporting that just 4.5 per cent of beds in greater Seoul were available for critical cases as of Friday, down from 22 per cent a week earlier.
India has recorded 76,472 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, raising its tally to over 3.4 million. A country of 1.4 billion people, India now has the fastest-growing caseload in the world.
The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 1,021 deaths for a total of 62,550. India is reporting around 1,000 COVID-19 deaths every day.
There has been a spurt of new cases over the last few weeks. One of the reasons is testing: India now conducts more than 900,000 tests every day, compared with just 200,000 two months ago.
Even as western Maharashtra and the three southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka remain the worst-hit regions with nearly 64 per cent of fatalities and 55 per cent of active cases, the virus is spreading fast in the country’s vast hinterlands.
Earlier this week, members of a small tribe in the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands tested positive, with experts saying the virus has now entered the widespread transmission stage.
Australia‘s state of Victoria has reported 18 more COVID-19 deaths and 94 new cases — the first time in almost two months that new infections have dropped below 100.
The deaths take the state toll to 514 and the Australian COVID-19 death total to 601.
Since Monday there have been no more than 150 new daily cases in Victoria, adding to speculation about an easing of lockdown restrictions across Melbourne, which include a daily 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.
But state Premier Daniel Andrews says it is too soon to dramatically relax the rules.
“It will have to be gradual and steady because we’ve all got to be really careful to make sure nothing we do makes it more likely that we find ourselves back here at exactly this place,” Andrews said. “We want to defeat the second wave … that means we can avoid a third wave.”
About one-third of students returned to school in China‘s capital on Saturday in a staggered start to the new school year because of the coronavirus.
The first batch of 590,000 students in Beijing included all three years of high school, the first and third years of middle school and the first grade of primary school. Another 400,000 students are to start school on Tuesday, and the final 520,000 on Sept. 7.
Both students and teachers are required to wear masks.
China reported nine new coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, bringing its official total to 85,022. All the new cases were overseas arrivals. The country’s death toll remained at 4,634.
U.S. regulators are now allowing use of experimental antiviral drug remdesivir for all patients hospitalized with COVID-19, drugmaker Gilead Sciences said Friday.
It said the Food and Drug Administration has expanded its emergency use authorization, which lets doctors administer the IV drug during the pandemic. Until now, that was limited to patients with severe COVID-19.
Foster City, California-based Gilead applied to the FDA on Aug. 10 for formal approval of remdesivir, to be sold under the brand name Veklury.
Gilead said in a statement that the expanded emergency use was based on results of a recent federal study of hospitalized patients with different levels of severity, plus a Gilead study published a week ago. Gilead’s study found that among hospitalized patients with moderate COVID-19, those getting remdesivir were 65% more likely to improve after a five-day treatment course than those just getting standard care.
Remdesivir previously was shown to shorten treatment by about four days for hospitalized patients with severe disease, compared with those getting standard supportive care.
WATCH | Remdesivir approved as COVID-19 treatment in Canada, but it’s in short supply