Coronavirus live news: US sees record 4,327 deaths reported in one day; Japan extends state of emergency

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The German state of Bavaria is pushing for controversial new rules to contain the spread of Covid-19 amidst growing concerns about the mutant strain first detected in the UK.

As of the start of next week, citizens in the largest and southernmost German state will be required to wear single-use filtering facepiece respirator (FFP2) masks on public transport and in supermarkets. FFP2 masks promise to filter out at least 94% of particles but are also more expensive, usually retailing at €4-6.

“The availability [of the masks] in trade is sufficiently guaranteed, so there is no shortage of FFP2,” state premier Markus Söder promised on Tuesday, but there are some concerns that the mask’s cost could drive people to use their masks more frequently than advised, thus lowering rather than increasing protection.

Söder, a pacesetter for German coronavirus restrictions for much of 2020, has also floated the idea of compulsory vaccinations for care workers. The leader of the Bavarian CSU party said such a move could be justified to protect vulnerable people amidst a high rate of vaccine scepticism.

According to one recent survey, only 50% of care workers in Germany were prepared to take part in the first wave of vaccinations.

Health minister Jens Spahn has been quick to reject the proposal. “I gave my promise in the Bundestag”, Spahn said. “In this pandemic there won’t be compulsory vaccinations”.

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