Measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 have created an odd situation in a village straddling the Dutch-Belgian border, where opposite sides of the road are in different countries.
For decades residents have freely gone about their business barely noticing the dotted frontier on the ground, but now tougher lockdown rules in Belgium limit residents to food shops and pharmacies, while people in the Netherlands are also allowed to visit the shoe shop, travel agency and optician on their territory.
“These are all Dutch shops, but in Belgium they would have to be closed in this time of coronavirus,” Baarle-Hertog Mayor Frans de Bont said, pointing at a row of shops on a Dutch street section across from the Belgian municipality.
“I live just 50m away, I walk by, but I cannot go into any of these shops because I am Belgian,” De Bont told reporters.
“We have extra police driving around, but we are calling for understanding from the public,” he said.
One store even had a ribbon down the middle of its premises, marking the border, with the Belgian section off-limits. Belgians are still allowed to go to food shops, a pharmacy or a doctor if they happen to be on Dutch territory.
The village and its surroundings are entirely within the Netherlands, but it also comprises 22 Belgian enclaves that form Baarle-Hertog and, within these, a further eight Dutch micro-enclaves, which belong to Dutch Baarle-Nassau. The border even bisects some properties.
De Bont said the quirky geography stemmed from a feudal system of land swaps and rentals that took place as much as 1,000 years ago and were left in place.
“It used to be very common, but it’s just here that it’s stayed,” he said, adding that efforts to establish a more regular border, including after World War I, had come to nothing.
The COVID-19 variant discovered in South Africa can “break through” Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to some extent, a real-world data study released on Saturday found, although its prevalence in the country is low and the research has not been peer reviewed. The study in Israel compared almost 400 people who had tested positive for COVID-19, 14 days or more after they received one or two doses of the vaccine, against the same number of unvaccinated people with the disease. It matched age and gender, among other characteristics. The South African variant, B.1.351, was found to make up about 1 percent of all the COVID-19
RARE ADMISSION: A top Chinese expert was the first to publicly address the efficacy of the nation’s vaccines as it aims to inoculate 40 percent of its population by June China is considering mixing different COVID-19 vaccines to improve the relatively low efficacy of its existing options, a top health expert told a conference in Chengdu on Saturday. Authorities have to “consider ways to solve the issue that efficacy rates of existing vaccines are not high,” Chinese media outlet The Paper reported, citing Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Gao Fu (高福). His comments mark the first time a top Chinese expert has publicly alluded to the relatively low efficacy of the country’s vaccines, as China forges ahead in its mass vaccination campaign and exports its jabs around the world. China
The Australian government yesterday said that it had decided against buying the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine and identified a second case of a rare blood clot likely linked to the AstraZeneca shot. The Australian government had been in talks with the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant, which had asked the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration for provisional registration. However, Australian Minister of Health Greg Hunt ruled out a J&J contract, because its vaccine was similar to the AstraZeneca product, which Australia had already contracted for 53.8 million doses. Hunt said the government was following the advice of Australia’s scientific and technical advisory
The Indonesian government has said it is satisfied with the effectiveness of the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine it has been using, after China’s top disease control official said that current vaccines offer low protection against the novel coronavirus. Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s COVID-19 vaccine program, on Monday said the WHO had found that the Chinese vaccines had met requirements by being more than 50 percent effective. Clinical trials in Indonesia for the vaccine from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac showed that it was 65 percent effective, she said. “It means ... the ability to form antibodies in our bodies is still very