Germany closes borders with Austria, Czechia amid coronavirus variant fears

Berlin, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- Germany on Sunday closed its borders with the Czech Republic and Austria to non-German nationals and residents in an effort to control the spread of new, virulent variants of coronavirus.

People traveling for family reasons, those who cross the border for work, truckers and healthcare staff will be exempted from the new rules, which come as the number of Covid-19 cases in Germany continues to descend.

Health officials in Austria and the Czech Republic have reported an increase in the number of new coronavirus variants, which spread faster than the original variant. One of the main concerns for authorities is the so-called UK variant of coronavirus, which was first detected in southern England late last year.

On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the lockdown in Germany would extend until at least 7 March, which means restaurants, leisure and cultural activities and non-essential businesses will remain closed.

The Robert Koch Institute, the federal department of epidemiology, reported 6,114 new Covid-19 cases in Germany in the last 24 hours. The cumulative seven-day incidence rate has dropped to 57.4 cases per 100,000 people, down from a peak of 197.6 in December. EFE-EPA


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