COVID digest: New Zealand to reopen for vaccinated travelers in April …

New Zealand will allow fully vaccinated travelers to go into the country from April 30, the government announced on Wednesday.

The Pacific island nation has enforced some of the world’s strictest border restrictions since the pandemic hit in March 2020.

The country’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said New Zealanders stranded in Australia would be able to return home from mid-January, while nationals traveling from in other places would be allowed in a month later.

“We concede it’s been tough, but the end of heavily restricted travel is now in sight,” Hipkins told reporters.

Foreigners will have to wait until the end of April to go into New Zealand under the blueprint for a phased reopening unveiled on Wednesday.

“A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed,” Hipkins said. “This reduces any possible impacts on unprotected communities and the New Zealand health system.”

Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:


Germany reported 66,884 new infections and 335 deaths on Wednesday, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s public health authority. In total, more than 5.4 million situations have been registered and 99,768 people have died.

The seven-day incidence rate hit a new record of 404.5 on Wednesday. This is the first time the incidence rate — new infections per 100,000 people per week — has gone over 400 since the start of the pandemic.

The Netherlands reimposed its 1.5-meter social-distancing rule in some public spaces, designed to make it harder for people to spread the virus.

Those who violate this rule could be fined €95 euros ($107), the Ministry of Justice announced in The Hague on Tuesday.

The rule would not apply in restaurants and in the cultural sector since only those who show proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19, or a recent negative test are given entry.

The World Health Organization said about 700,000 more people could die of COVID-19 by next spring in Europe, which remains “in the firm grip” of the virus.


South Korea’s new daily infections surpassed 4,000 in a day for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said most of the new 4,116 situations reported on Wednesday came from the capital Seoul and its surrounding metropolitan vicinity.

adi/msh (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)

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