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Germany checks parliament security after US Capitol chaos

Germany will examine boosting security for its parliament, the speaker of the house said Thursday, after the storming of the US Congress by violent protesters.

Germany checks parliament security after US Capitol chaos

Demonstrators against restrictions imposed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to halt coronavirus transmission had attempted in the summer to enter the Reichstag parliament building, but were repelled by police forces.

Lawmakers of the far-right AfD party, some of whom had marched in increasingly aggressive virus-skeptic demonstrations, have also been accused of inviting into the parliament building protesters who went on to harass other MPs.

Following chaotic scenes overnight in the Capitol, German parliament speaker Wolfgang Schaeuble said he would examine “what conclusions should be drawn from this for the protection of the Bundestag”, his office said in a statement.

READ ALSO: 'Furious and saddened': Merkel joins German politicians in calling out US Capitol mob

The Bundestag refers to the lower house of parliament with its 709 lawmakers, while the Reichstag is the building where they do their work.

The German embassy in Washington has been requested to provide a report on how the “violent excesses could have happened in the Capitol”.

Security forces of the parliamentary groups, the state of Berlin as well as the federal interior ministry have been tasked with examining whether protection of the Bundestag would need to be beefed up.

Leaders of the AfD released a statement Thursday denying any links to heated virus-skeptic protests in front of the Reichstag building last year.

“Anyone who equates the unrest in Washington with the demonstrations that took place before the Reichstag building in Berlin, and who points to our party's sympathy for these events, is abusing the anarchist events for political purposes in Germany,” they said in a statement.

The mainstream political parties have said the AfD shares blame for the security breaches at the Reichstag and demanded that it call on its supporters to respect Germany's democratic institutions.

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HEALTH

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination. 

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