Wednesday

4th Aug 2021

EU countries tighten restrictions as infections surge

  • Two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine are needed against the Delta variant - but only 49.5 percent of Europeans are fully-vaccinated (Photo: European Commission)

Europe continues to be one of the most-affected regions in the world by the surge of Covid-19 cases, driven by the spread of the more contagious Delta variant and relaxation of measures.

As of Monday (19 July), there have been more than 33 million cases reported in Europe - with Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg recording the highest number of infections.

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By contrast, Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia have all reported less than 10 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks.

In the most-affected countries, the steepest increases in the number of cases were reported among younger age groups, who tend to be not fully-vaccinated, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Cyprus is now reporting more than 1,000 new Covid cases per day - leading the government to tighten restrictions, triggering protests in the country.

From this week, a coronavirus-safe pass for vaccinated people is needed to enter certain places such as supermarkets, malls, restaurants and other businesses.

French president Emmanuel Macron also said that a health pass (proving vaccination status or recent negative test) will be required to attend festivals, cinemas, cafes, restaurants, hospitals, long-distance trains and planes from the beginning of August.

For its part, Spain's health ministry announced on Monday 61,628 new cases of coronavirus - an increase of 63 percent on last week.

According to the Spanish newspaper El País, one-in-every-30 people aged between 20 and 29 has tested positive for coronavirus in the last 14 days.

In Portugal, new daily case numbers have been increasing steadily in recent weeks - with similar figures than those seen in February when the country was under strict lockdown.

The Portuguese government has reintroduced a night-time curfew in several municipalities. Currently, the delta variant represents more than 80 percent of cases in Portugal.

Meanwhile, new cases in the Netherlands have jumped in the last weeks, prompting an apology from the country's prime minister Mark Rutte for lifting restrictions too soon.

According to the Dutch government, the majority of new cases were among people - with four-out-of-10 infections linked to nightlife.

Last week, the Netherlands reimposed some restrictions, including working from home.

In Luxembourg, authorities said that the sudden spike in infections, especially affecting younger unvaccinated people, is linked to the events related to National Day, which took place on 23 June.

Yet, health officials expect a return to a lower rate of infection in the coming weeks.

The Delta variant, first found in India, is expected to make up 90-percent of infections in Europe by the end of August.

All jabs approved in the EU - BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson&Johnson - appeared to be effective against the Delta variant when both doses are administrated in the case of two-shots jabs.

But only 66.3 percent of Europeans have received one dose, while 49.5 percent are fully vaccinated.

The EU has already delivered enough Covid-19 vaccines to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population in the 27 member states.

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