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GA English on Sunday: News in Brief from Bonn and the region

GA English on Sunday : News in Brief from Bonn and the region

Trial run for vaccination centre at WCCB on Saturday, reduced opening hours at municipal authorities over Christmas, rapid testing centre at the Brückenforum, and relief fund set up for cultural events in Bonn - here is our news in brief on Sunday.

Test operations at Bonn vaccination centre

BONN. On Saturday the planned vaccination procedures at the WCCB were tested using stand-ins. Mass vaccination is due to begin slowly in January, after the vaccination teams have visited retirement and care homes.

"We are doing this test to check our procedures and to fine-tune them," explains fire chief Jochen Stein, who is responsible for the organisation of the vaccination centre. Findings from the trial runs and the experiences of the test persons will be evaluated afterwards.

The task of vaccinating at the WCCB is a tricky one. It is vital to avoid both overcrowding and confusion at the centre. But above all, the vaccines from the pharmaceutical companies Biontec and Moderna, which will be available first, are so delicate to handle that the logistics must run extremely smoothly. "The serum is delivered from Brussels to Düsseldorf and distributed from there," reports Susanne Engels, head of the health department. She does not know when the first doses will arrive in Bonn and how many.

The dose preparation is to be delivered to the WCCB already thawed. In this state, it can be kept for a few days at two to six degrees. "We will then mix it with saline solution, whereby it must not be shaken," explains head physician Thomas Scheck from the GFO Clinic in Bonn who is responsible for the medical coordination of the vaccination for the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Bonn. "Then the solution is drawn out to five syringes each," he says. They have to be given within five hours at the latest.

At best, the vaccination process should function like clockwork, with a maximum of 20 people per hour passing through each vaccination station. But of course disruptions can occur along the way – someone turns up late for their appointment or forgets to bring their ID-card, for example. If someone registers and then misses their appointment completely, the vaccine dose prepared could become unusable. In addition, a second dose must be available for each vaccinated person exactly 21 days later, otherwise, immunisation will not take place.

70 employees from the WCCB, the city administration and the emergency services will be operating the vaccination centre in two shifts. Things are not likely to start here this year and possibly not even in the first week of January. "After that, we expect to slowly ramp up operations as the vaccine becomes available," says Scheck.

The vaccination centre on Saturday looks a bit like a Potemkin village. Everything is ready, but the key ingredient is missing and will not be in stock yet, even following the expected approval by the EU drug agency EMA on Monday. Scheck shrugs his shoulders. Germany has ordered three times more vaccine doses from various manufacturers than there are inhabitants, he says. More is hardly possible, he says, even if it will take a few weeks before mass vaccination actually starts. Nevertheless, the test run is sensible. "Even before an operation, I make sure I have all the instruments in stock before it starts,” he explains.

(Original text: Martin Wein)


Not all local authorities are closed over the holidays

BONN. The municipal authorities in Bonn will begin their holidays this coming Monday. The longer break has been introduced to try and reduce the amount of contact before Christmas. The first working day after the two-week break will be 4 January. However, not all the local authorities are doing the same. GA enquiries in the cities of Cologne, Achen, Münster, Bielefeld and Koblenz show that while some municipalities are closing their operations, others do not have any extra holiday at all. In the Rhein-Sieg district, for example, there is no continuous closure for the administration. According to a press release, the offices will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, but will be open from 28 to 30 December.

Staff at the administration in Cologne have been urged since Wednesday to take remaining leave or to reduce overtime, according to city spokesman Alexander Vogel. In other cases, employees were asked to work from home. In addition, the regular working holidays from 28 to 30 December are to be extended until 10 January, if possible. "Inquiries are currently being made in the offices and discussions are taking place with the staff council," said Vogel.

There will be no holiday closures at the Aachen municipal administration, says Linda Plesch, head of press and public relations. "The office is only closed on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and public holidays. Otherwise, all offices are open to the public as usual," she writes. The city administration in Münster is closing between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day with limited operation up to 23 December and from 4 to 10 January. In urgent cases, dates can be arranged by appointment. In Koblenz, the core administration and the Bürgeramt are open but appointments must be made in advance. In Bielefeld, the municipal administration has not extended its holidays and will be closed from 24 December to 3 January. Citizens must make an appointment for services which require personal contact.

(Original text: Rajkumar Mukherjee)


First day at rapid test centre

BONN. At 2pm on Friday, the first Bonners arrived to be tested for coronavirus, and service provider Sandro Heinemann counted almost 200 people by the evening. "We are already fully booked for 23 December," he said. In partnership with the company CoviMedical, Heinemann is using part of the Brückenforum as a subtenant to offer the tests. Customers report to the reception desk where they are registered and receive the test material. They are then guided along barrier tapes between the partition walls, where a throat and nose swab is taken. 15 minutes later, after a laboratory examination of the swab similar to a pregnancy test, the result is available and sent by e-mail.

The clientele at the Brückenforum on Friday ranged across all age groups. Most seemed to want to put short-term plans for travel and family visits into action. "We want to go to Holland at the weekend and get the certificate beforehand just to be on the safe side," said a couple from Bad Godesberg. Another couple is going to Poland in a few days, and two elderly ladies are planning to visit relatives in retirement homes in the next few days.

The municipal authorities assume that the number of people testing positive in Bonn is naturally likely to increase due to the new service providers on the market: "The more tests, the more positive results,” says city spokesperson Monika Hörig. The test centres will also increasingly identify asymptomatic positives.

No one tested positive at the Brückenforum initially. For all those who do test positive in any testing centre, it has more far-reaching consequences than just an email – the person’s data will be forwarded immediately to the responsible health authority. Those affected must immediately go into quarantine at home and contact the relevant health authority.

(Original text: Rüdiger Franz)


City to pass fine monies to cultural event organisers

BONN. Organisers of cultural events in Bonn can look forward to a corona grant of at least 5,000 euros. This was decided by the central committee at its recent meeting and a solidarity fund of 115,000 euros was set up. The money comes from the fines collected for violations of the corona regulations. Applications can be submitted by independent promoters of cultural events such as theatres, small art galleries, festivals, music clubs, exhibition halls, museums and houses of literature. The institutions must undertake to hold at least one event with Bonn artists in 2021 and to pay them standard market rates. The deadline for applications is 8 January.

While the solidarity fund was approved in this form, the CDU, FDP, Bürger Bund (Citizens' Association) and Volt were defeated in their call for an additional rescue fund to help needy self-employed artists and the independent cultural scene in the city. According to the liberal party, the package of soon to be one million euros should have been taken from the budgets for theatres, opera and orchestras which were not used due to the corona pandemic. Susanne König, head of the municipal cultural office, advised against the rescue fund. In view of the fact that federal and state funds were available at the same time, she warned about the danger of the artists receiving claims for repayment.

(Original text: fa)

(Translations: Caroline Kusch)