Thousands of ‘Covidiots’ protest in Berlin over virus restrictions Aug 02, 2020 0 668 12345 AFPBerlinLoudly chanting their opposition to face masks and vaccines, thousands of people gathered in Berlin on Saturday to protest against coronavirus restrictions before being dispersed by police.Police put turnout at around 20,000 -- well below the 500,000 organisers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs.Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over recent weeks and politicians took to social media to criticise the rally as irresponsible.“We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists as they converged on the Brandenburg Gate, demanding “resistance” and dubbing the pandemic “the biggest conspiracy theory”.Few protesters wore a mask or respected the 1.5-metre social distancing requirement, an AFP journalist reported, despite police repeatedly calling on them via megaphone to do so.Police tweeted they had launched legal proceedings against organisers for not respecting virus hygiene rules.Several politicians condemned the demonstration as Germany seeks to minimise transmission of a virus which had claimed just over 9,000 deaths as of Saturday -- a far lower toll than its neighbours.Saskia Esken of the Social Democrats, a junior coalition partner in Angela Merkel’s government, blasted the demonstrators as “Covidiots”.In a tweet Esken railed: “No distancing, no mask. They are not only putting at risk our health but also our success against the pandemic as well as economic recovery, education and society. Irresponsible!” Health Minister Jens Spahn agreed: “Yes, demonstrations should also be possible in times of coronavirus, but not like this. Distance, hygiene rules and masks serve to protect us all, so we treat each other with respect.” Jan Redmann, regional head of Merkel’s Christian Democrats in the eastern state of Brandenburg, also took aim at the marchers. “A thousand new infections a day still and in Berlin there are protests against anti-virus measures? We can no longer allow ourselves these dangerous absurdities.” RELATED ARTICLES US official cautions over China, Russia virus vaccines as race heats up Aug 02, 2020 0 493 Expect ‘lengthy’ coronavirus pandemic, warns WHO chief Aug 02, 2020 0 406 Hurricane Isaias douses Bahamas, heads to virus-hit Florida Aug 02, 2020 0 1108 Japan’s Okinawa declares state of emergency as virus cases soar TOKYO: Japan’s Okinawa region has declared a state of emergency and asked people to stay home for two weeks as the popular tourist destination sees an “explosive spread” of coronavirus cases. Governor Denny Tamaki on .. First US recipient of partial face transplant dead at 57 WASHINGTON: Connie Culp, the first US recipient of a partial face transplant, has died at age 57, according to Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, where she underwent the delicate operation nearly 12 years ago. The health centre .. UK seeks ‘tougher action’ from France on Channel migrants AFP London Britain on Saturday urged France to get tougher on stopping migrants using the Channel to reach the UK, with one minister saying the crossings were “unacceptably high”. The call came after Border Force figures .. Trump says fed agents to stay in Portland until police ‘cleanup’ AFP Washington US federal officers will stay in the protest-wracked city of Portland until local law enforcement officials finish a “cleanup of anarchists and agitators,” President Donald Trump said. The president .. South Korean sect leader arrested for hindering coronavirus efforts AFP Seoul The elderly leader of a secretive South Korean sect at the centre of the country’s early coronavirus outbreak was arrested on Saturday for allegedly hindering the government’s effort to contain the epidemic. ..