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CHINA

Chinese pair name kids after east German town

It might not be as glamorous as "Brooklyn" or "Milan" - names the Beckhams and the Tysons picked for their children - but Freiberg has a special meaning for Huixian Yang and Hong Shen, who have named their two children Frei and Berg.

Chinese pair name kids after east German town
Huixian Yang (m), Hong Shen (l) with their children Frei and Berg and Freiberg mayor Bernd-Erwin Schramm. Photo: DPA

A few years ago, the couple came to study in the Saxon town's University of Mining and Technology (Bergakademie).

Yang, an economic mathematician, and Shen, a geotechnical engineer, would likely never have met had they not made the choice to study in Germany, as their home towns in China are four hours apart by plane.

Christmarkt Freiberg 2” by SchaefboOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

But since meeting the couple have made their home in the east German town which has 40,000 residents, with Shen settling down to work in an engineering firm and Huixin teaching Chinese at a local secondary school.

DON'T MISS: Ten German place names that make us giggle

At home are two little kids who only make sense as a dynamic duo – Frei (Free), a boy born in 2012, and Berg (Mountain), a three-month old girl.

“Freiberg makes it possible,” said mayor Bernd-Erwin Schramm at a town hall ceremony on Thursday.

The town's “Silver Book” records unusual events and human stories, its colour recalling the silver mining that first made Freiberg wealthy.

Since Thursday, it now bears the imprint of Frei's hand and three-month-old toddler Berg's foot in metallic silver ink on a page recording how they came to be.

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SAXONY

Saxony’s Covid rules get mixed reaction from the vaccine hesitant

The eastern German state of Saxony may have ordered tough restrictions on the unvaccinated to push them to get the Covid-19 jab, but shop assistant Sabine Lonnatzsch, 59, is unmoved.

People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, eastern Germany, to get a Covid vaccination without an appointment, on November 8th.
People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, eastern Germany, to get a Covid vaccination without an appointment, on November 8th. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

The new rules are “discriminatory” because they are “pushing the unvaccinated further into a corner,” she says. 

Lonnatzsch won’t change her mind about getting inoculated – she just won’t go to restaurants or events anymore.

“I’ve had corona cases in my family and in my eyes it is nothing more than a bad flu,” she says.

With Covid-19 infections rocketing in Germany, Saxony this week became the first to largely exclude unvaccinated people from indoor dining, cinemas and bars.

READ ALSO: Germany divided over Covid restrictions for the unvaccinated 

The new rules, likely to be emulated by other states in the coming weeks, are designed not only to reduce the spread of Covid-19 but also to encourage more people to get inoculated.

But Lonnatzsch is not the only one resisting the jab in the town of Radeberg in Bautzen district, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country at just 45.7 percent.

The clothing store No 1 Mode where she works has a sign in the window that lets customers know that all are welcome – regardless of vaccination status.

‘Bad for business’

Across the town square, the co-owner of Cafe Roethig also has no plans to get the vaccine. Like many people in the region, Carola Roethig, 58, is “not convinced” by the jab because “it was developed in such a short space of time”.

The district of Bautzen has one of the highest incidence rates in the country at 645.3 cases per 100,000 people, but Roethig is not worried about catching the virus.

People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, Saxony.
People queue at a vaccination centre in Radeberg, Saxony. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

The new rules are “definitely bad for business,” she says at the cafe’s bakery counter, which is lined with untouched fresh cakes, tarts and iced donuts.

“Many of our customers are not vaccinated, so we are losing income, because fewer people are coming in,” she says.

READ ALSO:

The rules are also bad for her personal life.

“I’m not allowed to go to a restaurant in the evening and have a nice dinner with my husband. I don’t think it is right,” says Roethig.

Outside the cafe, 40-year-old Susan feels the same.

“Nothing would convince me” to get the jab, she says, without giving her last name.

“I see no sense in it because (vaccinated people) can still get the disease and infect others.”

Vaccine push

The new rules come as new infections surge in Germany, with the national incidence rate reaching 213.7 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven
days on Tuesday – a record since the pandemic began.

The political parties looking to form a coalition government after September’s election have so far ruled out compulsory vaccinations and general
lockdowns to tackle the surge.

But with just 67 percent of the population fully jabbed, ministers say encouraging more people to get vaccinated is key to bringing the numbers down.

Outside Radeberg town hall, a modest queue of people formed for a vaccination event organised to encourage more people to get the jab.

Kitchen assistant Mirmirza Kabirzada, 36, had previously hesitated because “I heard that many people died in Norway and others got a fever, so I was a little bit afraid”.

But with the numbers rising so dramatically, “now I realised this is very important,” he says.

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has been linked to very rare and potentially fatal blood clots, but experts agree that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Intensive care nurse Nicole Wieberneit, 39, is waiting in line to get her booster.

She is optimistic that the new rules will encourage more people to get vaccinated.

“When it becomes about the freedom to travel, to go out to eat, I think more people will come forward. Freedom is very important to people in Saxony,” she says.

By Femke COLBORNE

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