Merkel sees Covid’s dramatic wave and 6 more countries lift restrictions

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The number of new Covid cases broke a record in Germany this Wednesday (17th) and led Prime Minister Angela Merkel to call the current wave of infections “dramatic”.

In the week ending on Sunday (14), the number of new cases had already jumped 50% among Germans — compared to the previous seven days —, the third highest global increase according to the WHO (World Health Organization), after the States United and Russia.

With hospital admissions on the rise and ICU occupancy surpassing 80% in some regions, the German government will meet with the governors of the 16 states to decide how to contain the crisis.

Countries where measures can be taken centrally, such as Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, announced new restrictions on Wednesday, joining Estonia and the Netherlands, pioneers in the reaction to the new advance of the pandemic.

Austria this Monday determined restrictions to the unvaccinated: they can only leave the house for essential reasons, under penalty of paying a fine of 1,450 euros (R$ 9,000). This Wednesday, the country broke a record in the number of infections.

The upward trend in contagion in Europe is not new, but it is becoming more worrying, according to health officials. In the week of November 8 to 14, the continent completed the fifth consecutive week of increase, driven by greater movement of people, the arrival of the cold — which increases the concentration in closed places — and the difficulty in raising the percentage of vaccinated population.

In Germany, the vaccination rate is 68%, far from the nearly 90% recommended to reduce the circulation of Sars-Cov-2. The percentage is 65% among Austrians, 58% among Czechs and 44% among Slovaks. In Belgium, it is 75%.

According to WHO, the number of weekly cases jumped by 8% compared to the previous seven days. The concern grew because now the number of deaths is also growing: there were 5% more deaths in the week ended last Sunday (14), compared to the previous one.

“All the alarm signals are red,” said Alexander De Croo, prime minister of Belgium, who from the 20th will reinstate remote work four days a week, mandatory mask use from the age of 10 and distance compulsory physical.

According to Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, the country is experiencing “an explosion of infections”. According to the Belgian government, the number of occupied hospital beds doubled in 15 days. “If we don’t take the measures seriously, we won’t get to the end of this,” Vandenbroucke said.

The Belgian government also decided to give the third dose of anti-Covid vaccine to all those already immunized — until now, it was restricted to the elderly and vulnerable.

The red not only lit on Belgian alarms, but spread across the entire map of Europe. Sweden, Denmark, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have decided to increase restrictions for those who are not fully vaccinated.

The Swedish government has announced that, from December 1st, the vaccination certificate will be mandatory for any event with more than 100 people for the first time, and Denmark, one of the first European nations to lift all restrictions, will return to mandatory your Covid passport.

In Slovakia, which also set a record for new cases on Wednesday, the certificate will be mandatory for work and for visiting non-essential shops, and in the Czech Republic, tests will no longer be accepted for attending meetings or public services: immunization will be required.

Ireland, like Belgium, intends to take up homework whenever possible and impose a curfew for bars and nightclubs at midnight.

According to the government, a new wide confinement is not necessary only because the country has one of the highest rates of complete vaccination: 89% of those over 12 years old.

In France, the government is already talking about a fifth wave of Covid, the same count used by Switzerland. This Wednesday, more than 20 thousand French tested positive for the coronavirus, the highest mark since August.

In Switzerland, where vaccination has stalled at the rate of 65% of the population, health officials are expected to meet on Thursday to consider further measures. A spike in new infections has already been reflected in hospitalizations, and ICUs reach about 75% occupancy.

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