South African scientists announced Thursday that a new variant of Covid-19 with a number “extremely high“of mutations and with a”very rapid spread potential“, had been detected in the country.
Europe once again became the global epicenter of the pandemic this fall, while the highly contagious Delta variant reduced the effectiveness of vaccines against the transmission of the disease to 40%, according to the WHO.
The Covid-19 has caused the death of more than 1.5 million people on the continent, according to an AFP count made from official reports. The WHO has warned that the Covid could kill 700,000 more there by the spring.
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In total, the coronavirus has killed more than 5.16 million people worldwide since the end of 2019. The WHO estimates that, considering the excess mortality directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19, the toll of the pandemic could be two to three times higher.
In France, where the Covid has killed more than 118,000 people, it is not considered at this stage “no containment or curfew“, Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced Thursday.
In Austria, the authorities took the decision a few days ago to confine, a measure of unprecedented severity in Europe since the start of vaccination campaigns.
– “Save the end of year celebrations” –
Others “confinements“, in reality less strict, had already been decreed in other countries such as Latvia and the Netherlands. Additional restrictions were put in place in Slovakia and Italy.
“We can pass this wave without resorting to the most restrictive tools“, stressed the French minister, specifying that there would be at this stage”no early closure of businesses or travel restrictions“.
The vaccine booster against Covid-19, most often in the form of a third dose, which is currently only accessible to over 65s, will be “open to all adults from 5 months after their last injection“, from this Saturday.
The Minister also announced the return of the obligation to wear a mask everywhere indoors in places open to the public, from Friday, including in places where the health pass is requested (restaurants, shopping centers, places of entertainment. , museums …).
It is “save the holiday season“, said government spokesman Gabriel Attal on Wednesday at the exit of a Council of Ministers held in the physical absence of Prime Minister Jean Castex, himself tested positive for Covid.
In Martinique and Guadeloupe, in the French West Indies, the protest against the anti-Covid vaccine, mixed with social demands linked to the cost of living, provoked violence, including gunfire against firefighters and police officers. Roadblocks hamper the activity of these two islands.
Stepping up measures is also under consideration in the Netherlands, where health restrictions have already caused riot nights.
– “Every day counts” –
For Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who will urgently organize a meeting on Friday to decide on new measures, the increase in contamination and hospitalizations linked to Covid is “greater than the most pessimistic curves“sketched out last week by scientific experts.
A former model pupil, Germany is facing its strongest wave as a new government prepares to take office.
More than 100,000 people have died there from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. 75,961 new contaminations were counted Wednesday.
“Every day counts“, warned outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, who wants an additional turn of the screw and let her successor Olaf Scholz know, who has promised to”do everything“in the face of the pandemic.
The new coalition is counting on the generalization of the health pass in transport and access restrictions for the unvaccinated, for example for cultural places, and vaccination.
A billion euros will also be released in favor of nursing staff and nursing assistants.
For its part, the European Commission recommended Thursday the administration of a booster dose no later than nine months after the second dose of vaccine to strengthen the European health pass, the validity of which would no longer be recognized without this booster.
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And Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for children aged 5 to 11 by the European medicines regulator, paving the way for vaccination among this age group in the EU.
Diary of a Liberal