International update: Restrictions re-imposed in Europe as Covid infections rise
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International update: Restrictions re-imposed in Europe as Covid infections rise

17 Nov 2021

17 November

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 5.1 million, with a figure of 5,116,058 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections pass 254.4 million world wide.

Europe

Greece: Thousands of restaurant owners in Greece shut their businesses in a nationwide protest against recent measures that fine establishments for serving customers without proper documentation of their vaccination or test status.

Portugal: Portugal may bring back some measures to stop the spread of Covid in the run-up to the holiday season as infections soar across Europe, prime minister Antonio Costa said. The number of new cases has been gradually rising over the past month in one of the world’s most vaccinated nations, reaching a two-month daily high of 1,816 infections on Saturday.

Slovakia: Slovakia plans curbs on unvaccinated people as hospitals reach a “critical” situation, prime minister Eduard Heger said. The government is due to decide on Thursday on tighter restrictions to limit access to services to those unvaccinated or those who had overcome Covid in the past six months.

Spain: The Basque region reeimposed some restrictions on large gatherings as infection rates rise, the first Spanish region to do so since curbs were eased earlier in the year. In municipalities where the infection rate is above 150 per 100,000 inhabitants, the government will limit large public sports or other events where people can eat or drink, regional health chief Gotzone Sagardui said. The region will request permission from the Basque Supreme Court to implement a Covid passport requirement for access to restaurants and night clubs, she said.  “We have to reinforce the measures so that we do not have to take a step back,” Sagardui said. “We have to be vigilant.” The region’s infection rate rose this week to the highest in two months.

Germany: In Germany, plans are underway for the introduction of tighter restrictions on people who have so far chosen not to be vaccinated against Covid-19, in an effort to control its highest infection levels since the pandemic began. Munich became the first major German city to cancel its upcoming Christmas market, blaming the “dramatic” coronavirus resurgence.

UK: The UK has recorded another 37,243 Covid cases in the last 24 hours, and a further 214 deaths within 28 days of a positive test. That is compared with 39,705 infections and 47 deaths reported the day before.

Scotland’s Covid passport scheme could be extended to cinemas, theatres and bars next week if that helped avoid a harsher lockdown closer to Christmas, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed. Hospitality firms said further restrictions would be “a devastating blow”, warning it could force some venues to close.

Only a small fraction of attendees at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow tested positive for Covid during the event, at a rate of around 1 in 250 people, Public Health Scotland said.

Ireland: People in Ireland are being asked to work from home where possible from Friday and bars, restaurants and nightclubs will introduce a midnight closing time on Friday as a raft of new restrictions is agreed by the government in the face of rising hospitalisations.

Ireland will offer boosters to people over 50, the Health Ministry said. Individuals age 16 and older with underlying conditions, as well as residents of long-term health facilities also will be eligible. Recipients must have their vaccine shot at least five months ago.

Americas

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 47.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 765,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The Biden administration plans to buy 10 million treatments of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 pill. The company plans to submit data for the pill, administered twice a day for five days, to US regulators by Thanksgiving.

An advisory panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scheduled a meeting for 19 November to discuss expanding booster eligibility for the vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE. The third shots currently are authorized for people 65 and older, as well as those 18 and up at high risk of getting a severe case.

Pfizer has announced it is asking US regulators to authorise its experimental antiviral Covid-19 pill, Paxlovid, which has been shown in clinical trials to cut the risk of hospitalisation and death for adults by almost 90%. The company has said it will allow generic manufacturers to supply its experimental antiviral Covid pill to 95 low- and middle-income countries.

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has won the lottery to handle the consolidated case challenging the Biden administration’s emergency regulation requiring large employers to mandate that their workers either get vaccinated against Covid-19 or test regularly. The case will go to a panel of three judges from the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, a federal panel on multidistrict litigation announced Tuesday. The majority of judges in that circuit were appointed by Republican presidents.

New York City will open Times Square on New Year’s Eve to fully vaccinated revelers, after limiting the celebration last year to front-line workers. This year, those too young to be get a shot must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult, said Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance. Visitors who aren’t able to get vaccinated because of a disability will need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test and wear a mask if able. “New York City is back,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We want to show the world we’re back.”

Mexico: Mexico will make vaccinations available to children age 15 to 17 without underlying health conditions. Pre-registration will begin Friday.

Asia-pacific

New Zealand: Vaccine passes were made available for the more than 3.4 million New Zealanders who are fully vaccinated, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said. The pass can be downloaded to a phone or printed out. It can be used to attend hospitality settings, retail establishments, community and sporting events, religious gatherings and other functions. Vaccination status isn’t required at supermarkets, pharmacies, health services and other essential establishments.