Monday, July 4

Covid: Dutch Prime Minister Apologizes for Lifting Restrictions Too Soon | Coronavirus

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized and acknowledged that his government lifted restrictions too soon after an increase in cases in the Netherlands.

Last week, Rutte reimposed restrictions on Dutch bars, restaurants and nightclubs and canceled all events involving large crowds until at least August 14, as cases increased nearly sevenfold from a seven-day average. from 49 per million people on July 4 to almost 330 on the weekend. .

“What we thought would be possible turned out not to be possible in practice,” he said Monday. “We had bad judgment, which we regret and for which we apologize.” At least 30 event organizers have initiated joint legal proceedings on the U-turn.

Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said last week’s holiday could be affected by the increase, but was hopeful that other EU countries would look at data from hospitals rather than infections when debating the requirements. quarantine or testing for Dutch travelers.

“Two weeks ago, all the signs were green,” De Jonge said. “Now there are reasons to intervene. This is unprecedented. ”However, Dutch hospital admissions remain low at 2.7 per million, up from a peak of more than 100 in early April.

Several EU states are struggling to stem an alarming increase in Covid-19 cases. However, hospital admissions so far have not followed the same curve, prompting officials in several countries to suggest that as vaccination campaigns progress, hospital data should become a more important factor in responding to the pandemic.

Driven by the Delta variant, new infections in France they have increased by 65% ​​over the same seven-day period, from an average of 34 to 56 per million. Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers on Monday night, according to BFM-TV.

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Macron could decide to go further by requiring a much broader use of the country’s digital certificate, which provides evidence of vaccination, a negative test or Covid immunity, for example, in cinemas, theaters and even restaurants.

As in much of Europe and the United States, France’s first-dose vaccination rate has started to decline as it begins to confront more vaccine-resistant or difficult-to-access groups, potentially threatening the goal of herd immunity. So far, 53% of the total population has received a dose and 39% are fully vaccinated.

Other countries that have seen very rapid increases include the most popular vacation destinations on the continent, such as Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Cases in Greece Y Spain They have more than doubled in the last week, from seven-day averages of 69 and 157 per million to 176 and 316 respectively. The Catalonia region, which includes Barcelona, ​​has reimposed nightlife restrictions in an effort to control an increase primarily among unvaccinated youth.

Almost half of Portugal – where average daily infections have risen from 203.7 to 265.6 per million in the last week, it’s back under a nighttime curfew, and several regions now also require a vaccination certificate or negative test to book in a hotel or eating inside a restaurant.

“We continue to see a worsening of the pandemic,” a government spokeswoman, Mariana Vieira da Silva, said last week, adding that 60 Portuguese municipalities now represent a “high risk” of transmission, compared to 45 the previous week.

New infections in Germany they are rising more slowly, from an average of 6.8 per million to nine, an increase of 32%, and new weekly hospital admissions remain low at 1.7 per million. Authorities intend to focus on hospital admissions rather than infections, German media reported.

Cases rose last week after two months of steady decline, and Health Minister Jens Spahn has said that lifting the remaining restrictions will depend on vaccination rates, and that social gatherings of more than 10 people who do not belong to the same household are still prohibited for those who are not fully vaccinated.

While 90% of those over 60 will soon be vaccinated, it will take a “big advertising campaign” to reach a rate of 85% among younger populations, he said. About 57% of the total population in Germany have received at least one dose and almost 39% are fully vaccinated.

The Bild newspaper reported Monday that the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the national disease control agency, was pushing for hospital admissions to be “an additional major factor” in assessing the state of the pandemic.

Citing a RKI document, the newspaper said the agency believed that “several indicators would still be needed for the assessment, but their weighting should change” due to a “decrease in the proportion of severe cases” due to widespread vaccination.

Experts have said that the Delta variant could account for 70% of all cases in Europe by the beginning of next month, rising to 90% in early September.

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