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Europe Scrambles For Covid Control With Boosters, Vaccines For Kids

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An AFP tally showed on Thursday that more than 1.5 million people have died from Covid-19 in Europe. (To file)

Paris:

Europe rushed Thursday to regain control of a resurgent coronavirus as governments urged adults to give boosters and injections to young children, a sign of growing unease over a pandemic that has killed 1 , 5 million people on the continent.

Berlin, Paris and Lisbon were among capitals weighing tighter Covid restrictions and broader vaccination campaigns as increased cases and winter encroachment threaten to reverse hard-earned gains against the virus over the course of of summer.

In the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman returned to hospital just hours after his release to appoint a new prime minister when he tested positive for Covid-19.

While governments are already struggling to cope with the more infectious Delta variant, the discovery of a disturbing new strain in South Africa has been a stark reminder that the fight against COVID-19 is far from won.

Britain, in response to the new variant, said Thursday it would ban travel from six southern African countries: South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana .

British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said scientists were “deeply concerned” about the new variant because it “may be more transmissible” than Delta and current vaccines less effective against it.

In Germany, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel called for tighter controls. France has stepped up recalls and the European Union’s Medicines Agency has given the green light to a vaccine for five-year-old children.

Even countries with relatively high vaccination rates are now stepping up Covid-19 measures that had only recently been relaxed.

Merkel implored her new successor government to take swift and decisive action as the country reported a record 351 Covid deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll since the start of the pandemic to more of 100,000.

Warning that “every day counts”, Merkel urged her successor government to “more contact restrictions”.

Bolster booster

Germany has had to turn to hospitals elsewhere in the EU for help as some clinics are overcrowded.

The country started last week requiring people to prove they are vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19, or recently tested negative before they can travel on public transport or ” enter the workplace.

Several of the worst-affected areas have canceled Christmas markets and banned bars, gyms and recreation facilities for the unvaccinated.

Germany’s COVID-19 crisis has been partly blamed on its relatively low vaccination rate of around 69%, compared to other Western European countries like France, where it stands at 75%, although new cases peaked in seven months. Wednesday.

A German recall fire campaign was marred by supply and logistics problems.

In Paris, Health Minister Olivier Veran said Covid-19 recalls would be available to all adults from this weekend.

From January 15, people over 18 will need to show proof of a dose of complementary vaccine to keep a valid Covid pass, which is required to enter restaurants, bars, gyms and other public places.

Adding to the pressure, the European Commission has recommended that the block’s vaccination certificate become invalid once the holder’s last dose is over nine months old.

Elsewhere in Europe, the streets of the Slovak capital Bratislava were deserted as a new partial Covid lockdown went into effect.

Even Portugal, which has an 86% vaccination rate, has said it will impose working from home on New Years and shutting down bars and nightclubs.

Belgium, which only reimposed stricter restrictions than last week, experienced a much worse rise than expected, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.

Lives Saved

Earlier Thursday, the Czech government put in place a 30-day state of emergency, which includes the closure of Christmas markets as well as nightclubs.

Hospitals in the east of the country are reaching capacity and some have started moving patients across the country by helicopters and ambulances.

Growing cases see Europe reappearing as the epicenter of the pandemic, with the continent battling slow vaccination rates in some countries, the highly contagious Delta variant, colder weather sending people indoors and easing restrictions.

An AFP tally of official figures showed Thursday that more than 1.5 million people have died from Covid-19 in Europe.

Scientists in South Africa said the new variant they discovered had multiple mutations, blaming it for an increase in the number of infections.

The number of daily infections in Africa’s most affected country has increased tenfold since the start of the month.

Back in Europe, the European Medicines Agency approved the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, paving the way for vaccination in an age group where the virus spreads rapidly and aligning the EU over the United States, Israel and Canada.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by DAILYNEWSCATCH staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)

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