The Czech Republic declares a state of emergency and Slovakia enters lockdown as COVID infections rise.
European countries have expanded COVID-19 booster vaccinations, launched plans to give young children the shot and tightened some restrictions as the continent grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases and concerns about its economic fallout. have gone.
Slovakia went into a two-week lockdown, with the Czech government declaring a 30-day state of emergency that included an early closure of bars and clubs and a ban on Christmas markets, while Germany reported 100,000 COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday. crossed the limit.
Europe is at the center of the latest COVID-19 wave, reporting a million new infections every two days and now accounting for nearly two-thirds of new infections worldwide.
The European Commission proposed on Thursday that EU residents would need booster shots if they want to travel to another country in the bloc next summer without requiring testing or quarantine.
In France, officials announced that booster shots would be made available to everyone over the age of 18, rather than only those over 65 and those with underlying health problems.
Many countries are increasing or increasing the use of booster shots, although the World Health Organization wants the most vulnerable people around the world to be fully vaccinated first.
In Africa, where just 6.6 percent of its population of 1.2 billion are fully vaccinated, many countries are struggling to ramp up their vaccination campaigns as the delivery of vaccines finally accelerates, according to Africa’s disease control body. chief said on Thursday.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on Wednesday recommended a vaccine booster for all adults, with priority for those over the age of 40.
Germany’s number of new daily cases hit a record 75,961 on Thursday and its total death toll reached 100,119 since the start of the pandemic, according to the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases.
Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Berlin, said authorities in Germany are grappling with a surge in cases, and some hospitals have been forced to send patients to other European countries.
Kane said, “In Germany … many hospitals are filling up with people who have not been vaccinated and have caught the delta version of the coronavirus, which is much more contagious than we know it.”
“And with hospitals filling up, they can’t find enough space, so they’re asking European allies to take some of their patients,” he said.
shots for youth
In some countries there is an emphasis on vaccinating young children.
The EU’s medicine watchdog on Thursday approved the use of Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines in children aged 5 to 11 years at a lower dose, after authorizing it for children aged 12 and under in May. The European Commission will issue a final decision, which is expected on Friday.
Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were preparing to vaccinate young children after approval from the European Medicines Agency, although low-dose delivery is not expected until December 20.
In France, where the number of infections is doubling every 11 days, Health Minister Olivier Veran said he would ask health regulators to examine whether children aged 5 to 11 should get the vaccine.
Vaccination across Europe has saved nearly half a million lives, among people 60 years of age and older, the World Health Organization’s regional office said on Thursday in a study with the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Several European countries are tightening restrictions.
The state of emergency declared by the Czech Republic orders the government to impose restrictions on public life. Officials there ordered bars and clubs to close at 10 p.m. (21:00 GMT), banned Christmas markets and limited attendance at cultural and sporting events to 1,000 people.
Slovakia’s two-week lockdown from Thursday follows neighboring Austria, which began a lockdown on Monday. Slovakia, with one of the EU’s lowest vaccination rates, reported a dire situation in hospitals and new infections topping global tables.
Officials ordered the closure of all essential shops and services and banned people from traveling outside their districts until they went to work, school or to the doctor. Gatherings of more than six people were banned.
French officials said rules for wearing face masks would be tightened and testing of health passes used for entry into public places would be increased. But officials said there was no need to follow up with European countries that have reimposed lockdowns.
In Germany, Greens co-leader Annalena Barbock said the new government, which includes the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP), has given itself 10 days to decide whether to impose further sanctions. is required.
Most of Germany has already introduced rules restricting access to indoor activities for people who have been vaccinated or recovered.
In the Netherlands, the number of coronavirus patients in hospital has not been seen since early May, and experts warn that if the virus is not contained, hospitals will reach full capacity in a little more than a week.
The Dutch government said that it would take strict measures to prevent infection. The government’s key outbreak management team has advised restaurants, bars and non-essential stores to close until 5 pm as part of a new package of lockdown measures, national broadcaster NOS reported on Thursday.