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HEALTH

Coronavirus: Dozens of anti-lockdown protesters arrested in Berlin

German police arrested dozens of protesters in Berlin on Saturday for flouting the coronavirus lockdown measures they were demonstrating against.

Coronavirus: Dozens of anti-lockdown protesters arrested in Berlin
Photo: DPA

About 1,000 people turned out for the rally, which has become a weekly event in the German capital. Saturday's protest attracted mainly far-left activists but there were also right-wing supporters and members of other fringe groups.

Police put up barriers around Rosa Luxemburg square, where the protesters were headed, leaving the participants to gather in nearby roads.

The protest “is not in line with the rules” in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, police said on Twitter, telling those taking part to disperse.

Some of the demonstrators wore T-shirts accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel of “banning life” while others simply called for “freedom”. Others brandished placards bearing slogans such as “Stop the pharmaceutical lobby”.

The protest was unauthorised as a result of emergency rules in Berlin banning gatherings of more than 20 people. The protest organisers' website called for “an end to the state of emergency” and played down the threat posed by the virus.

Public discontent with the confinement rules has been growing gradually in Germany, as in other countries, though Merkel's popularity remains high.

She has received plaudits for her management of the health crisis which has seen Germany's COVID-19 toll — 5,500 according to an AFP tally — remain significantly lower than in Italy, Spain, France and Britain where the death tolls have all risen above 20,000.

Opposition to the lockdown measures is being led by the far-right, the main opposition force in the German parliament.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party accuses the government of exaggerating the risk posed by the virus and has called for the immediate reopening of all businesses.

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COVID-19

German Chancellor Scholz tests positive for Covid after Gulf tour

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has tested positive for the coronavirus and is displaying mild symptoms after returning from a tour of the Gulf, his spokesman said Monday.

German Chancellor Scholz tests positive for Covid after Gulf tour

The 64-year-old Social Democrat is isolating in his apartment in the chancellery, and will attend meetings online, spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

At the weekend, he visited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar on a hunt for new energy sources after Russia cut gas supplies amid tensions over the Ukraine war.

He signed a deal Sunday for the UAE to supply natural gas and diesel to Germany.

READ ALSO: UAE to supply Germany with gas and diesel 

Meanwhile Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, also of the SPD, announced via Twitter on Monday that she had tested positive for Covid.

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