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HEALTH

German state of Saxony to take in Italian coronavirus patients

Hospitals in the eastern German state of Saxony will take on at least six Italian coronavirus patients who are unable to receive treatment in their own country, state premier Michael Kretschmer said.

German state of Saxony to take in Italian coronavirus patients
Corona patients from Italy landed at the Leipzig/Halle airport early on Tuesday with the military aircraft "Lockheed C-130 Hercules" from the Italian Air Force. Photo: DPA

“The Italian government asked us a few days ago whether we could help by taking care of patients who are not being taken care of in Italy,” Kretschmer said on Monday.

Following consultation with doctors over hospital capacity in the eastern German state, Saxony has agreed to welcome six Italian patients to hospitals in the cities of Dresden and Leipzig, he added.

An Italian military plane carrying the patients landed at the Leipzig/Halle airport early Tuesday morning.

The patients come from the particularly hard-hit Lombardy region of northern Italy, according to la Repubblica.

“In Italy they are now making an ethically very difficult decision…choosing six people to be put in the aeroplane,” said the state premier.

Kretschmer said that the treatment of Italian patients would be a chance for doctors in Saxony to learn about the novel coronavirus, and also a sign of solidarity.

“This is a very important sign that we are also able to help others,” he said.

German news agency DPA, meanwhile, reported without citing sources that a total of eight patients would be transported to Germany.

Italy has been the country worst hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic, with a world-topping death toll of over 6,000.

With its health service has been stretched to breaking point, other countries such as Russia and the Czech Republic have also offered aid.

Germany has over 29,000 confirmed cases according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University and the Robert Koch Institute for public health.

Saxony is one of the lesser affected of the country's 16 states, with 865 cases so far.

Last weekend, three other German states on the French border announced that they would take care of patients from the eastern region of France, which has also been badly hit by the outbreak.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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