Friday, April 12

COVID-19 in Europe: Germany maintains restrictions as Omicron infections continue to rise


Several countries in Europe continue to record a record number of COVID-19 infections this week. Here is our summary of the situation across the continent.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that Europe was entering a new phase of the virus.

WHO regional director Dr. Hans Kluge said the Omicron variant accounted for a third of cases across the continent.

But he added that the region is moving towards “a kind of end of the pandemic”, adding that Omicron could infect 60 percent of Europeans by March.

Some countries have taken measures targeting the unvaccinated, while others have recently lifted anti-COVID restrictions.

Germany

German authorities have decided to keep existing coronavirus restrictions in place as Omicron’s highly contagious variant fuels a sharp rise in infections.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Germany’s 16 state governors said they were also looking into how to use PCR testing capabilities, which have come under pressure in recent days.

The country has reached a series of daily records for infections, with 840.3 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants registered during the last week. The health minister has said he expects the numbers to peak in mid-February.

Although infections are rising rapidly, that has so far not been accompanied by a large increase in hospital admissions.

But officials are concerned that Germany has a large number of unvaccinated older people compared to other European countries.

German parliamentarians are expected to hold the first debate on Wednesday on a possible universal vaccination mandate.

France

Meanwhile, in France, a new vaccine health passport was presented on Monday. Citizens over 16 years of age must prove that they have been punctured to access restaurants or bars, leisure activities or use interregional public transport.

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The move comes despite a series of small-scale protests in Paris over the weekend and political resistance.

Opponents of the policy say the tightened measures will affect everyday “freedoms” and criticized what they called a form of social “apartheid.”

In Bordeaux, Anaelle, a nurse, criticized compulsory vaccination as “shameful”. “People who have been vaccinated get sick, so what’s the point?” she asked.

Although the size of the protests has diminished in recent weeks, a radical group remains angry with President Emmanuel Macron, who has warned he will continue to extend restrictions until the unvaccinated accept a coronavirus vaccine.

Belgium

Belgium’s health ministers have approved a recommendation for a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to better protect vulnerable people.

Some 77 percent of Belgium’s population is now fully vaccinated, while some 6.3 million citizens have received a booster dose.

But on Sunday, police fired water cannons and thick clouds of tear gas in Brussels to disperse people protesting COVID-19 vaccines and government restrictions as parts of the crowd clashed with authorities and destroyed property. , including facades of EU institutions.

Police said the rally drew some 50,000 people, some of whom traveled from France, Germany and other countries to take part.

United Kingdom

Fully vaccinated travelers arriving in the UK will no longer need to take a COVID-19 test from February 11, the government has announced.

Those who are not fully vaccinated still need to undergo a test before departure and another PCR test after arrival, but they no longer need to isolate.

“What we’re doing for travel is showing that this country is open for business, open for travellers,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the UK would also recognize vaccination certificates from 16 other countries, including China and Mexico.

Last week, the last remaining COVID-19 restrictions in England were lifted, while plans are in place to end the isolation of positive cases.

Italy

Italy’s vaccination campaign coordinator says the country “seems to have reached the peak” of Omicron infections.

General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, the country’s extraordinary commissioner for the implementation of health measures against the pandemic, told the ANS news agency on Monday that “in the last two days, the number of hospital admissions has been less than the number of discharges. “.

Italy registered 139,000 new cases on Sunday, compared to between 180,000 and 200,000 in previous days.

“We hope this trend will be confirmed,” Figliuolo said, adding that the drop in hospitalizations was a “good sign.”

More than 87 percent of Italians over the age of 12 have been vaccinated, according to official government figures.

Poland

More than 34,000 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Poland on Sunday, 132 percent more than last week, according to the Health Ministry.

However, 25 people who had contracted the coronavirus have died, ten fewer than a week ago. More than 825,000 people are in quarantine and 13,491 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the country.

A week ago, on January 16, there were more than 260,000 people in quarantine and two weeks ago, more than 151,000 people.

“So far, 2,232 cases of Omicron have been detected, which is 35% of the sequenced samples,” the health authorities said on Sunday.

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Poland, a country of about 38 million, has a vaccination rate below the European Union average.

Kosovo

On Monday, Kosovo tightened COVID-19 measures for people entering the country amid a surge in infections.

Travelers will need three doses of a recognized vaccine, or two doses plus a negative test, to enter Kosovo without self-isolating.

The restrictions will remain in place until February 4, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health.

Kosovo’s move was criticized by neighboring residents in Albania and North Macedonia who staged protests at border crossings on Monday.


www.euronews.com

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