Europe introduces tougher restrictions on Covid-19 amid fears of a Christmas wave

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                Plusieurs pays européens ont imposé mercredi des restrictions plus strictes sur les coronavirus avant Noël, les États-Unis ayant signalé un autre nombre record de nouvelles infections.
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                                    <p>Les espoirs de mettre fin à la pandémie ont été stimulés par des évaluations positives du vaccin Moderna Covid-19, mais une étude a averti qu'au moins un cinquième de la population mondiale des pays les plus pauvres pourrait ne pas avoir accès aux vaccins avant 2022.

With the resurgence of the virus in Europe, Germany has closed non-essential shops and schools, parts of England have come under tighter restrictions and the Netherlands has extended its restrictions.

“It’s great that we are closing the stores, it’s for our health. We can’t wait for things to fall apart, ”said Jürgen, a shopper in Berlin, where people were scurrying to finish their Christmas shopping before closing.

Germany coped relatively well with the first wave of spring, but has struggled to contain a resurgence in recent months and its Minister of Health has said it wants the European Union to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “before Christmas “.

The 27 EU member countries aim to start vaccinations against Covid-19 “on the same day” as a sign of unity, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.

His statement to the European Parliament came as pressure mounted on the bloc to catch up with the United States and Britain, which have already started vaccinating people with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine made in Europe.

Painful restrictions

The high number of infections forced London on Wednesday to join large parts of central and northern England under severe and economically painful restrictions.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and other venues will close, apart from takeout, as will theaters and other entertainment venues.

“The hospitality industry needs this week, and it’s devastating. It’s terribly terrible, ”said Lesley Lewis, owner of The French House, a London pub.

“But if this is what it takes to save lives, this is what we need to do. ”

The Netherlands, France and Turkey also announced that restrictions would be in place during the holiday season.

Known infections around the world are approaching 73 million, with more than 1.6 million deaths.

The United States remains the hardest-hit country, setting a record for new daily infections on Tuesday with more than 248,000 cases.

Washington’s National Cathedral rang 300 times on Tuesday in memory of the 300,000 people who have lost their lives to coronavirus in the United States.

The situation turned dire in California, where authorities ordered thousands of additional body bags as Los Angeles was left with fewer than 100 intensive care beds available for a county of 10 million people.

The United States has started using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and the Food and Drug Administration also released an optimistic briefing on candidate Moderna on Tuesday, ahead of an expert meeting on whether to grant him emergency approval.

The regulator also approved the country’s first rapid home coronavirus test for Covid-19, which is available over the counter and produces a result in about 20 minutes.

President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday he would be vaccinated in public.

Poorer Nations Left Behind?

With rich countries reserving more than half of next year’s potential doses, there are fears that poorer regions of the world may be left behind.

Even though the drugmakers all produce effective and safe vaccines and meet their maximum global manufacturing targets, a study released Wednesday by researchers at Johns Hopkins University warned that “at least one-fifth of the world’s population do not would not have access to it ”before 2022.

The World Health Organization said it was in talks with Pfizer and Moderna to include their vaccines at affordable prices for poor countries.

The widespread deployment of vaccines is seen as essential to revive the global economy.

“I have been home for eight months, there has been no income,” said Ashwin Pal, a dive operator in Fiji, where the lack of visitors has devastated the key tourism sector. “Life has been pretty hard. ”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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