Demonstration for the reopening of public places in Neuchâtel, worst fears in Iran: the news of Saturday 13 February

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The essential

A demonstration for the reopening of public places in Neuchâtel.

More preventive mass tests are launched by the cantons. The assembly of the Swiss Socialist Party was held virtually on Saturday.

ANew York, the Covid vaccine, is a new asset on dating sites.

Iran plunges into a dramatic health situation.

our follow-up of the day Friday

■ One of WHO’s leading experts now says his frustration

We want more data. We requested more data

Peter Ben Embarek, one of the experts who was part of the World Health Organization’s mission to China, told AFP this Saturday.

“There is a set of frustrations but also realistic expectations as to what is doable in a given timeframe,” he added, before hoping that the requested data would be provided, allowing to go further. .

As Washington continues to press the Chinese government, the vagueness is growing over the first appearances of the virus.

WHO experts appeared to rule out the hypothesis that the virus may have escaped the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as the Trump administration claimed, at a press conference in that city on Tuesday. from Hubei, at the end of their mission. They had considered that this was a “highly improbable” hypothesis.

But the boss of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, subsequently seemed to correct the situation by saying Friday that “all the hypotheses (remained) on the table” to explain the origin of the pandemic.

Seeour follow-up of Tuesday, marked by the (very long) WHO press conference (which the most assiduous and assiduous will be able to re-see).

■ Demonstration for the reopening of public places from March 1

Between 700 and 800 people took to the streets of Neuchâtel on Saturday afternoon. Protesters are calling for restaurants, shops and cultural venues to reopen on March 1. “We received police authorization to demonstrate but the wearing of a mask was necessary,” Laurent Tschanz, one of the organizers, told Keystone-ATS. The restaurateur was already behind the first event in support of restaurateurs which took place on January 9 in Neuchâtel and which brought together nearly 500 people.

Read also: French-speaking cultural circles cry out for help

In addition to the reopening of public places, the protesters are also asking for a faster payment and a simplification for emergency aid. “It is becoming urgent for rents and charges”, according to Laurent Tschanz. “It was not only the restaurateurs who demonstrated, he continued, but also people from cultural and sporting backgrounds and the population as a whole.” Regarding a reopening, “it does not matter whether it is March 1 or March 15, but we must have prospects,” he said.

Asked by Arcinfo, the director of GastroNeuchâtel, Karen Allemann, points out that in Neuchâtel, the state has released money for public establishments or businesses closed for more than 40 days, unlike other cantons. GastroNeuchâtel would like large landlords, such as pension funds or insurance companies, to reduce rents or premiums for the months of closure.

■ Around ten cantons will launch preventive mass tests

Many cantons take preventive mass testing seriously, especially in their schools. About ten of them submitted their concepts to the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP). At the end of January, the Confederation decided to cover the costs of the mass tests.

Read about it: Mass screening, a success far from achieved

So far, a dozen cantons have submitted a concept of preventive mass tests, said Daniel Dauwalder, spokesperson for the FOPH on Saturday, returning to information published in Tamedia media.

The Minister of Health, Alain Berset, justified the recommendation of a mass test at the end of January by the fact that the epidemiological situation was improving too slowly and that the spread of new viral variants was worrying. The new testing strategy was well received by the cantons during the consultation process, although some believe that this step comes too late.

Zug and other cantons want to have regular saliva tests in secondary schools after the ski holidays. As the holidays approach, the canton of Vaud has started to carry out mass tests, particularly in the resorts, for the entire population.

Pilot projects have started in the cantons of Bern and Thurgau. The vast majority of cantons will also further test asymptomatic people, said Tobias Bär, spokesperson for the Conference of Cantonal Directors of Health.

■ Protection of the population must be a priority for the PS

“We must take our responsibilities,” exclaimed on Saturday the co-president of the PS Cédric Wermuth before the virtual assembly of delegates, before presenting them with the party’s position paper. The priority goes to the protection of the population. “The measures that need to be taken are partly very hard. But they are necessary. New restrictions on economic and public life may still have to be decided, Cédric Wermuth said. For this, we must make the necessary money available to compensate all people and companies affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Read also: 5 billion for the victims of the crisis

At the same time, jobs and income must be maintained. “We are asking for 100% coverage of low and middle wages,” insisted the co-chair. Currently, it is only 80%. And the economy must be stabilized.

Testing and tracing capacities need to be expanded and the vaccination campaign accelerated. Switzerland must also support research into “Long Covid” and those who suffer from it.

■ In Iran, the fear of a new wave

Hassan Rouhani warned on Saturday of a new wave of Covid-19 in Iran, after an increase in the number of cases in parts of this Middle Eastern country most affected by the pandemic. Some towns in Khuzestan province in southwest Iran are now “red” zones, after several weeks of low levels of contamination across the country. “This means that we are heading towards the fourth wave. We must all be vigilant to avoid this ”, underlined Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Iran is the country in the Middle East hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic with nearly 59,000 deaths out of more than 1.5 million people infected.

■ The Covid vaccine, a new asset on dating sites

In New York, in a few weeks, being vaccinated against Covid-19 has become a strong argument on dating sites. Some use it to better conclude, others use it to show their faith in science and ward off anti-vaccines.

“The most desirable thing on a dating site right now is to have had the vaccine,” explains Michael Kaye, communications manager for the OkCupid platform. Thus, 43% of the approximately 1,500 users of the “Coffee Meets Bagel” meeting platform questioned said they were more attracted to a person who declared himself vaccinated.