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Increase in number of new Covid-19 infections in Germany raises alarm

Issued on: 11/05/2020 – 03:24

Germany's coronavirus spread appears to be picking up speed aga..

Issued on:

Germany's coronavirus spread appears to be picking up speed again, official data showed Sunday, just days after Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country could gradually return to normal.

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The Robert Koch Institute for public health said Germany's closely watched reproduction rate (R0) had climbed to 1.1, meaning 10 people with COVID-19 infect on average 11 others.

The RKI has warned that for the infection rate to be deemed under control and slowing down, the R0 has to stay below one.

As recently as Wednesday, Germany's number stood at 0.65.

But since then the country has reported clusters of new cases at slaughterhouses and at care homes for the elderly.

The RKI cautioned it was too soon to draw conclusions but said the number of new infections "would need to be watched very closely in the coming days".

The latest data raised alarm after Merkel only on Wednesday declared that Germany had left the "first phase" of the pandemic behind it and federal states announced relaxations of social restrictions.

Most shops and playgrounds have reopened, children are gradually returning to classrooms and states are to varying degrees reopening restaurants, gyms and places of worship.

German local authorities have however agreed to pull an "emergency brake" and reimpose social curbs if the infection rate rises above 50 cases per 100,000 residents over a week.

That has already happened in at least three districts in recent days, according to the RKI.

Football, slaughterhouses

In Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, there has been a spike in cases at a slaughterhouse in the district of Coesfeld, where around 200 of the 1,200 employees have tested positive for the virus.

Many of them are foreign workers from eastern Europe who lived in shared housing.

The regional government has ordered workers at all of the state's slaughterhouses to undergo testing. It has also delayed the loosening of some confinement measures in the district.

An outbreak of COVID-19 at a slaughterhouse in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein has likewise pushed the district of Steinburg over the infection threshold.

In the eastern state of Thuringia, Greiz district has reported a jump in infections among residents and employees of several care homes and a geriatrics hospital.

There were also fresh fears for the planned restart of the Bundesliga football season on May 16 after second-tier Dynamo Dresden's players were ordered to go into quarantine over two coronavirus cases.

Worst "not behind us"

As Merkel looks to steer the country cautiously into a new phase allowing more economic activity, some politicians have expressed fears that any precipitous action may spark a second wave of infections.

"We are in a critical phase. It is to be feared that after the first deconfinement measures certain people become imprudent," warned Katrin Goering-Eckardt, a senior figure in the GreensRead More – Source

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Europe

Kosovo highest court rules new government can be formed without snap elections

Issued on: 29/05/2020 – 03:25Modified: 29/05/2020 – 03:29

Kosovo's Constitutional Court ruled..

Issued on: Modified:

Kosovo's Constitutional Court ruled late on Thursday that a new government can be formed without holding a snap election, a decision opposed by the caretaker prime minister's party, which has vowed street protests.

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Albin Kurti's government was dismissed on March 25 after less than two months in office, following disagreements with its main partner, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and removal of tariffs on Serbian goods.

"The biggest political party does not have the exclusivity to propose the candidate of the prime minister to form the government," the court said in its verdict.

Kurti backed a snap election after seeing that other parties rallied together with his former coalition partner the LDK to form a new government. His party said it will organise protests in coming days.

The task to form the government is now given to LDK nominee Avdullah Hoti, former deputy prime minister and a past finance minister.

Hoti has promised he will return to negotiations with Serbia to normalise ties under EU and United States mediation. Such talks were halted in 2018 when a previous government introduced a 100% tariffs on goods produced in Serbia.

The move has angered the European Union and the United States, which backed Read More – Source

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Europe

The ICC says ex-Ivory Coast president Gbagbo can leave Belgium under conditions

Issued on: 28/05/2020 – 22:03Modified: 28/05/2020 – 22:03

The International Criminal Court on Thur..

Issued on: 28/05/2020 – 22:03Modified: 28/05/2020 – 22:03

The International Criminal Court on Thursday said former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo can leave Belgium under certain conditions following his acquittal last year over post-electoral violence that killed 3,000 people.

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Gbagbo and his deputy Charles Ble Goude were both cleared of crimes against humanity a year ago, eight years after the former West African strongmans arrest and transfer to the Hague-based court.

Belgium agreed to host Gbagbo, 73, after he was released in February under strict conditions including that he would return to court for a prosecution appeal against his acquittal.

However, Gbagbo and Ble Goude cannot “travel beyond the territorial limits of the municipality of the receiving State without the explicit and prior authorisation of the Court,” an ICC statement said Thursday.

Ble Goude, who lives in The Hague, was released under similar conditions as Gbagbo.

Gbagbos lawyers had in February appealed for his unRead More – Source

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Europe

Nissan to shut factory in Barcelona, thousands of workers affected

Issued on: 28/05/2020 – 21:53Modified: 28/05/2020 – 21:56

Japanese carmaker Nissan has decided to ..

Issued on: Modified:

Japanese carmaker Nissan has decided to shut its factory in Barcelona where 3,000 people are employed after four decades of operations, the Spanish government said on Thursday.

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The decision came despite government efforts to keep the plant open, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the national radio station.

“We regret this decision by Nissan to leave not just Spain but Europe… to concentrate its business in Asia, despite the enormous efforts by the government to keep the business going,” she said.

Spain is one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus fallout, a context that particularly stoked anger among workers at the Barcelona plant.

Shameful

“Its shameful that a multinational company like this one would drop us in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said 54-year old Jordi Carbonell who has been with Nissan for 32 years.

Carbonell said he had felt “cheated” by management in recent years. “No production site is profitable without a sufficient production volume and here they just let it die,” he said.

Spains car industry is the European Unions second-biggest after that of Germany, accounting for 10 percent of the countrys gross domestic product.

With Brexit, the Barcelona site became Nissans main one in the European Union. The Japanese company runs a bigger production facility in Sunderland in Britain.

In addition to 3,000 direct jobs, some 22,000 more depend indirectly on the site, according to unions.

The industry ministry confirmed to AFP that Nissans chief executive had informed it of plans to stop operations at the Barcelona site, which groups several production facilities.

Safeguard employment

Production there had already ground to a halt at the start of the month when some staff went on strike demanding an investment strategy for the site after plans were announced to cut 20 percent of the workforce.

Foreign Minister Gonzalez Laya said “all kinds of help” had been proposed to Nissan in the run-up to Thursdays decision and that the government would “not throw in the towel”.

The head of Nissans European operations, Gianluca de Ficchy, said “all that support was taken into account in order to have an overall economic equation going forward”.

Nevertheless, “weve reached the conclusion that the overall economic equation for the plant was not sustainable going forward,” he added.

But Gonzalez Laya said Spain would “explore all solutions, because our concern is to safeguard employment”.

She did not rule out the possibility of finding a buyer for the plant.

Economy Minister Nadia Calvino meanwhile said the government had invited Nissan to start talks “to see how this process could be managed”, to no avail.

The Madrid government has argued that the cost of closing Nissans Barcelona operation, which it put at more than one billion euros ($1.1 billion), was higher than the investmRead More – Source

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