Sunday

5th Dec 2021

EU virus-alert agency says new restrictions needed

  • Face masks are mandatory at airports and elsewhere (Photo: Chad Davis)

The EU agency in charge of infectious disease is demanding member states with Covid-19 spikes re-instate restrictions.

The Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), on Thursday (10 August), recommended restrictions be rolled out in a "phased, step-wise, and sustainable approach".

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The suggestion follows an uptick in Covid-19 cases across numerous member states of the European Union.

With a relaxation of restrictions ahead of the holiday break, fears are mounting that a second wave of the virus could hit.

Over 1.8 million confirmed cases have so far been reported across the bloc, including Liechtenstein, Iceland, and the United Kingdom.

Of those, some 183,848 people have died.

The ECDC says "notification rates" have been increasing in Belgium, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Death notification rate hikes have also been observed in Bulgaria, Croatia, Luxembourg, and Romania.

"We estimate that 24% of hospitalised COVID-19 cases reported in the EU/EEA and the UK have died," says the ECDC.

The overall figures are still much lower when compared to March and April.

But Germany's Robert Koch Institute issued similar warnings.

On Thursday, it said Covid-19 cases have been rising throughout Germany over the past few weeks.

It added the number of districts reporting zero cases over a period of 7 days has decreased markedly.

"This trend is concerning," said the institute.

It noted outbreaks are being reported in nursing homes, hospitals, asylum-seeker centres, meat-processing plant, schools, and religious and family events.

People travelling from high-risk areas into Germany must now get tested for the virus.

Other EU states are also clamping down.

France is demanding face-masks be worn in some outdoor public and tourist spaces around Paris.

Belgium did the same in Brussels after a curfew was imposed on its port city of Antwerp.

Greece has hinted that new containment measures may also be needed after its health minister said the transmission of the virus was "growing dangerously."

Outbreaks have been reported in north-eastern Spain and over a dozen infection clusters have been identified in Italy.

The warnings come amid some hope for a new vaccine before the end of year.

European Commissioner for health Stella Kyriakides had over the weekend suggested that a first vaccine could be ready by year's end.

"Although making predictions is risky at this point, we have good indications that the first vaccine will be available toward the end of this year or beginning of next year," she said, in an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt.

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