European states expand boosters, tighten curbs in the middle of the covid increase | News about the coronavirus

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European countries have expanded covid-19 booster vaccinations, launched plans to get shots at young children and tightened certain curbs as the continent struggled against an increase in coronavirus cases and concerns about its economic fallout increased.

Slovakia went into a two-week deadlock, the Czech government declared a 30-day state of emergency involving early closure of bars and clubs and a ban on Christmas markets, while Germany on Thursday crossed the threshold for 100,000 COVID-19-related deaths.

Europe is wide heart of the latest covid-19 wave, one million new infections are reported approximately every two days and now account for nearly two-thirds of new infections worldwide.

The European Commission proposed on Thursday that EU citizens will have to take booster shots if they want to travel to another country in the bloc next summer without the need for tests or quarantines.

In France, authorities announced that booster shots would be made available to anyone over the age of 18, rather than just over 65 and those with underlying health problems.

Many countries are rolling out or increasing the use of booster shots, even though the World Health Organization wants the most vulnerable people in the world to be fully vaccinated first.

In Africa, where only 6.6 percent of the 1.2 billion people are fully vaccinated, many countries are struggling with logistics to speed up their inoculation campaigns when vaccine supplies finally pick up speed, the head of Africa’s disease control agency said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recommended vaccine boosters for all adults, with priority given to those over 40 years of age.

The number of new daily cases in Germany broke a record 75,961 on Thursday and its total death toll reached 100,119 since the pandemic began, according to the Robert Koch Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, who reports from Berlin, said that the German authorities were struggling with the increase in cases, and that some hospitals had been forced to send patients to other European countries.

“In Germany … many of the hospitals are being filled with people who have not been vaccinated and who have caught the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which we know is much more contagious,” Kane said.

“And when hospitals are filled, they can not find enough places, so they ask European allies to receive some of their patients,” he added.

Shots for young people

There is growing pressure in some countries to inoculate younger children.

On Thursday, the EU Medicines Agency approved the use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine in 5- to 11-year-olds in a lower dose, after approving it for children as young as 12 in May. The European Commission will make a final decision, which is expected on Friday.

Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic prepared to inoculate young children after approval by the European Medicines Agency, although deliveries of the lower doses are not expected until 20 December.

In France, where the number of infections doubles every 11 days, Health Minister Olivier Veran said he would ask health authorities to investigate whether 5- to 11-year-olds could be vaccinated.

Nearly half a million lives across Europe have been saved by vaccination, among people aged 60 and older since the vaccine was launched, the World Health Organization’s regional office said on Thursday in a study with the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Stricter curbs

Many European countries are sharpening curbs.

The state of emergency announced by the Czech Republic allows the government to order restrictions on public life. Authorities there ordered bars and clubs to close at 22:00 (21:00 GMT), banned Christmas markets and limited the attendance at cultural and sporting events by 1,000 people.

Slovakia’s two-week shutdown from Thursday followed in neighboring Austria, which began a deadlock on Monday. Slovakia, with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the EU, reported a critical situation in hospitals and new infections that topped the global charts.

Authorities ordered all but important stores and services closed and banned people from traveling outside their districts unless they went to work, school or a doctor. Gatherings of more than six people were banned.

French authorities said that the rules for wearing face masks will be tightened and controls on health cards used for entry into public places will be expanded. But officials said there was no need to follow European countries that have reintroduced locks.

In Germany, the Greens’ co-leader Annalena Baerbock said the new government, made up of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP), had taken 10 days to decide whether further restrictions were needed.

A large part of Germany has already introduced rules to restrict access to indoor activities to people who have been vaccinated or recovered.

In the Netherlands, the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals has reached levels not seen since early May, and experts have warned that hospitals will reach full capacity in just over a week if the virus is not curtailed.

The Dutch government said it would take strong action to curb infections. The national broadcasting company NOS reported on Thursday that the government’s leading outbreak management group has announced that restaurants, bars and non-essential shops will be closed no later than 17.00 as part of a new package of lock-in measures.

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