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COVID-19

UPDATE: No coronavirus on German cruise ship docked in Norway

Two passengers from a German cruise ship who were tested for coronavirus in Norway are not infected with the virus, test results have shown.

UPDATE: No coronavirus on German cruise ship docked in Norway
The cruise ship 'Aida Aura' moored in Haugesund harbour, south-western Norway, on March 2nd. Photo: AFP

The two people, who had been ashore in southwestern Norwegian city Haugesund, were tested on Monday because they had been in close contact in Germany with someone who was later found to have the virus.

The cruise ship, the Aida Aura, was set to depart from the city on Monday but was detained after the two passengers awaited test results.

After test results showed that the passengers are not infected with coronavirus, the cruise ship will depart from Haugesund as soon as possible, Norway’s national broadcaster NRK reports.

“There is no need to keep the passengers in the quarantine. They can leave the boat freely without danger,” Teis Qvale, a doctor specializing in infectious disease protection in Haugesund, told NRK.

Ole Bernt Thorbjørnsen director of the Haugesund Municipality called the result “the best outcome we could have hoped for” in comments to the broadcaster.

Around 1,200 people reported to be on board are now free to leave the ship.

“We were informed by the ship’s agent that there are two people who may have the coronavirus sickness and that they wanted them to be tested,” Qvale said earlier. 

The tests were sent to the Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen for analysis.

The two passengers in question are both German and were reported by NRK to have been in contact one week ago with another German person who has since tested positive for coronavirus infection.

Qvale told NRK that, although the two German passengers had been on land at Haugesund, he believed they presented a “very small” risk of infection to the local population.

The two people who were tested for the coronavirus did not show any signs of illness when Qvale visited the ship on Monday afternoon.

“They did not have symptoms of cough or other respiratory ailments, so I think they represent little risk to the locals,” the doctor said.

“It is a relatively close-knit setting to be aboard a cruise ship, but I have confidence that the health department on the ship has taken care of the infection protection on board in the best possible way. Those who have been on a cruise ship know that there are very strict hygiene rules,” he added when asked about the risk to other passengers.

The number of recorded coronavirus infections in Germany has now risen to around 188, with the most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, recording by far the highest number of cases, with 101. No fatalities have occurred in Germany from the virus at the time of writing.

A total of 32 people have currently tested positive for coronavirus in Norway, according to the country’s public health authority Folkehelseinstituttet (FHI) figures

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CULTURE

‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.

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Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

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