Covid latest news: France to ‘tighten enforcement of health pass’ as part of new wave of restrictions

, Covid latest news: France to ‘tighten enforcement of health pass’ as part of new wave of restrictions, The Habari News

France will announce fresh Covid-19 measures on Thursday as the country faces a rising tide of infections, a government spokesman has said.

Speaking on behalf of Health Minister Olivier Veran, Gabriel Attal said that France will “tighten its enforcement” of the Covid health pass as well as strengthening social distancing and speeding up the vaccination campaign.

“The government will do all it can to save the Christmas season,” Mr Attal said. “We must protect the French people by building on what we have, to save the end-of-year festivities and get through the winter as well as possible.”

Mr Attal also said that France will increase the roll out of its booster campaign, seeing it as the best tool to combat a rise in hospitalisations: “We can avoid being overwhelmed in hospitals if we build up the booster campaign.”

Mr Attal stressed that the government was keen to avoid major restrictions but admitted the situation is likely to get worse in the coming days.

It comes as cases reached 30,000 yesterday, the highest level seen in France since August. The R rate is currently 1.6.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

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2:44PM

Cyprus to screen children for Covid-19 to ‘save Christmas’

Cyprus will include children as young as six in its Covid-19 screening programme and introduce mandatory masks in schools to ward off a surge in the virus, authorities said.

Cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus have been ticking up on the eastern Mediterranean island, like elsewhere in Europe, over the past month. 

From Nov. 29, children aged 6-11 will be required to undergo weekly screening for Covid-19, and wearing masks will be mandatory, Health Minster Michalis Hadjipantelas said.

A “safe pass”, which is a certificate of vaccination, will cease to be valid from Dec. 18 if seven months have lapsed from a person’s initial vaccination dose, and if they have failed to get a booster shot.

“Only through cooperation and individual responsibility can we overcome the threat of this virus, and save Christmas without the imposition of additional measures,” Mr Hadjipantelas said in a statement.

Cyprus introduced widespread restrictions on unvaccinated persons – an estimated 20 percent of the population – in August. The government made it mandatory for persons without a jab to get tested every 72 hours to access establishments ranging from bakeries and supermarkets to banks and public services.

Self-testing kits will be made available to the population from Dec. 13, with unvaccinated persons having to pay for the service.

2:30PM

Italy to restrict access of unvaccinated to indoor venues

Italy is expected to restrict access to some indoor venues for people who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19, in an effort to avoid a surge in infections as Europe grapples with a new wave of the epidemic, according to two government sources cited by Reuters.

The government will approve a decree allowing only those who are vaccinated or have recently recovered from the virus to enter venues such as cinemas, restaurants and hotels as of Dec. 6, the sources said after officials met health experts.

The country is also likely to extend mandatory vaccination, already in force for healthcare workers, to teachers and police as of Dec. 15, one of the sources said.

Italy has seen infections rise steadily in the past weeks, but a successful vaccination campaign has kept a lid on its epidemic. Other European nations are tightening the curbs and a new lockdown is in place in neighbouring Austria.

The new Italian measures would tighten the requirements for a Green Pass, a certificate that allowed the vaccinated access to various leisure activities and services, to exclude people who have received a negative test in the past 48 hours but have not had a Covid-19 shot, the sources said.

The duration of the pass would also be cut from a year to nine months, according to the sources who said the move was to encourage people to get booster shots.

2:17PM

Netherlands set to impose stricter Covid-19 regime by Friday

The Dutch government will announce on Friday new measures to fight a record surge in coronavirus infections, as hospitals struggle to deal with the wave of Covid cases, health minister Hugo de Jonge said.

A “gloomy and worrisome” rise in cases meant a cabinet meeting over coronavirus measures scheduled for December 3 had been brought forward by a week, he said.

“The infection rate is higher than ever before”, Mr De Jonge said in a letter to parliament on Wednesday. “Hospital admissions keep exceeding expectations and we have not seen the worst yet.”

His intervention comes as the country’s leading intensive care physician called for even tougher measures to rein in the pandemic.

Diederik Gommers, appealed Tuesday night for a tough lockdown, including closing schools, something the government has been keen to avoid.

Mr Gommers told a committee of lawmakers that the country’s hospitals are 10 days away from being so overburdened with Covid-19 patients that intensive care doctors will have to start making choices about which critically ill patients get care.

1:59PM

Countries should consider mandatory vaccines, says WHO director

It is time for countries to have a conversation about mandatory Covid-19 vaccination, a director at the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said, the Press Association reports.

Robb Butler said “mandatory vaccine can, but does not always, increase uptake” but suggested countries – and individuals – should now be thinking about the issue.

It comes after Germany’s tourism commissioner, Thomas Bareiss, said he expects coronavirus vaccinations to become mandatory in the country, after a move by Austria to make them compulsory from February.

In the UK, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has ruled out mass mandatory Covid jabs, telling the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday he does not think it is something the Government “would ever look at”, apart from for NHS and social care staff.

Mr Butler told Sky News that mandates could come at the “expense of trust and social inclusion”, but added: “We believe it’s time to have that conversation from both an individual and a population-based perspective. It’s a healthy debate to have.”

1:47PM

Everything you need to know

Good afternoon and welcome to those of you who are just joining us. Here’s a snapshot of the latest news from around the world:

  • One in four adults in England who test positive for Covid-19 no longer follow the rules for self-isolating, a survey suggests.

  • The head of the European Union’s public health agency Andrea Ammon has said that Covid-19 vaccine boosters should be considered for all adults, with priority for those aged 40 and older, in a major change to its guidance.
  • Leading Russian doctors have invited celebrities and politicians with anti-vaccine views to visit Covid-19 red zones in hospitals and see for themselves the dramatic effects of the pandemic.

  • Slovakia reported its highest daily rise in new cases on Wednesday, just ahead of a government meeting likely to agree a short-term lockdown to quell the world’s fastest surge in infections.

  • The Dutch government is considering closing all schools nationwide for two weeks due to a surge in coronavirus cases, according the local media outlet De Telegraaf.

  • Naftali Bennett, the Israeli prime minister, is reportedly considering restrictions over Hanukkah despite low infection rates and a hugely successful vaccine drive.

  • Emmanuel Macron is holding a defence council meeting at the Elysée today to decide whether any new restrictions are necessary

1:30PM

Poland nears fourth wave

Poland recorded 28,320 positive tests and 460 deaths in the 24 hours leading up to Wednesday morning, a record for the latest wave of the pandemic, reports Matthew Day from Warsaw.

Waldemar Kraska, a deputy health minister, said that the country is now approaching the peak of the fourth wave and that the pace of the increases has slowed.

Despite the rising death toll, the Polish government has so far refused to introduce new restrictions, preferring, instead, to tighten the enforcement of current regulations, such as having to wear masks in enclosed public spaces.

New restrictions, if needed, the government has suggested, would apply to areas worst affected by the pandemic.

1:16PM

Vladimir Putin receives ‘nasal’ booster jab

Vladimir Putin told a conference call with his cabinet that he has recently received a booster jab and tested Russia’s experimental nasal spray vaccine, reports Nataliya Vasilyeva from Moscow.

Mr Putin on Sunday told a televised meeting with a leading scientist behind the Sputnik V vaccine that he had received a booster jab of Sputnik and that he was feeling fine.

He revealed the details of another inoculation today, this time with a nasal spray.

“It was the same syringe: This time they used powder,” he said. “They asked me to take a deep breath and count to three and sprayed it in my nostril, then into the other.”

He did not give the date of his vaccination but said that he feels fine today.

, Covid latest news: France to ‘tighten enforcement of health pass’ as part of new wave of restrictions, The Habari News

Vladimir Putin has announced he has received a Covid-19 booster vaccine as he desperately seeks to increase uptake in Russia

Credit:
SPUTNIK/via REUTERS 

1:05PM

Emmanuel Macron expected to announce tougher restrictions for France

Emmanuel Macron is holding a defence council meeting at the Elysée today to decide whether any new restrictions are necessary given the explosion in new Covid cases – more than 30,000 recorded on Tuesday, the highest number of infections since August.

Stricter mask-wearing rules may be announced and there have been calls to open booster shots to the over-40s, reports Henry Samuel from Paris. The French prime minister Jean Castex has tested positive but only has mild symptoms.

Meanwhile, a curfew between 6pm and 5am has been extended until November 28 in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe after five nights of violence, roadblocks and pillaging sparked by anger over compulsory jabs for health workers. Police came under fire from live bullets, according to the interior ministry.

There are fears the violence could spread to nearby Martinique, where a strike has been called.

12:48PM

Russia to roll out Sputnik jab to 12-year-olds

Russia has announced that it will make all 12-17 year-olds eligible to receive a Covid-19 jab as the country struggles to boost its low vaccine uptake.

, Covid latest news: France to ‘tighten enforcement of health pass’ as part of new wave of restrictions, The Habari News

The Deputy Prime Minister  Tatyana Golikova announced that adolescents will be able to register from today.

The announcement comes as the WHO has warned that many countries are facing “extreme vaccine shortages” and has said that nations with high coverage should share supplies globally rater than vaccinating children.

Children “tend to have milder disease compared to adults” the WHO said, so it is “less urgent to vaccinate them than older people, those with chronic health conditions and health workers.”

12:31PM

Schools impose Covid ‘circuit breakers’ that parents fear are precursor to full closures

Parents fear the return of remote education in the run-up to the Christmas holidays as schools begin to impose their own “circuit breakers”, reports our Education Editor Camilla Turner.

Official guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) says that schools should only send large groups of children home in “extreme cases” and as a “last resort”.

The Telegraph has learned that some schools have already started to close, citing a rise in cases. St Mary’s Church of England Primary School in Credenhill, Hereford, has told parents it will have a seven-day “full school ‘circuit breaker’ closure” which began on Tuesday and will end on November 29.

Bernadette Davies, the school’s executive headteacher, wrote to families to explain that the decision has been taken “in conjunction with our Local Authority” and follows a “significant increase” in Covid cases in the school.

You can read Camilla’s report in full here.

12:23PM

EU health agency calls for ‘urgent’ Covid-19 measures

The European Union health agency has called on member states to “urgently” introduce anti-Covid measures to reduce the potentially “very high” burden the disease will have in December and January.

The director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Andrea Ammon, recommended Covid-19 booster shots for all adults over the age of 18, “with a priority for people above 40 years old”.

The agency also urged countries to increase their overall vaccination rates, especially those with low uptake.

12:03PM

Israel considers restrictions over Hanukkah

Naftali Bennett, the Israeli prime minister, is reportedly considering restrictions over Hanukkah despite low infection rates and a hugely successful vaccine drive, reports James Rothwell from Jerusalem. 

According to Israeli media reports, Mr Bennett floated the idea of restrictions on mass gatherings during the festive season as well as introducing rapid testing in schools. 

His remarks reflect how even highly vaccinated countries are taking a cautious approach to a looming winter wave of Covid-19. The infection rate in Israel has plummeted over the autumn months. 

Israel also unveiled this week a vaccine drive for children aged 5-11 in the hope of reducing infection rates among children. 

11:45AM

Netherlands considering two week school closure

The Dutch government is considering closing all schools nationwide for two weeks due to a surge in coronavirus cases, according the local media outlet De Telegraaf.

It is reported that the chances of closure are “huge” as the country desperately battles to reduce its infection rate before the depths of winter arrive.

The Netherlands recently imposed a three-week partial lockdown after recording a record spike in Covid cases. Bars and restaurants must close at 8pm, and crowds are banned at sports events.

Those restrictions drew violent protests over last weekend in a number of cities across the country.

, Covid latest news: France to ‘tighten enforcement of health pass’ as part of new wave of restrictions, The Habari News
11:36AM

Coronavirus around the world, in pictures

, Covid latest news: France to ‘tighten enforcement of health pass’ as part of new wave of restrictions, The Habari News

Participants hold a rally protesting against compulsory vaccination for some state employees and demanding to cancel restrictions in Kiev, Ukraine

Credit:
SERHII NUZHNENKO /REUTERS

, Covid latest news: France to ‘tighten enforcement of health pass’ as part of new wave of restrictions, The Habari News

A resident of a nursing home reacts as she gets a booster jab in Cologne, Germany

Credit:
Martin Meissner /AP

, Covid latest news: France to ‘tighten enforcement of health pass’ as part of new wave of restrictions, The Habari News

A coronavirus patient from Metz in France is transported from a military helicopter for treatment at the University Hospital in Essen, Germany

Credit:
Marcel Kusch /dpa

, Covid latest news: France to ‘tighten enforcement of health pass’ as part of new wave of restrictions, The Habari News

People queue in line to wait for the coronavirus testing at a makeshift testing site in Seoul, South Korea

Credit:
Ahn Young-joon /AP

11:20AM

In graphics: Vaccines in the EU 

11:17AM

Quarter of adults in England breaking isolation rules 

One in four adults in England who tests positive for Covid no longer follows the rules for self-isolating, a survey suggests.

Some 75 per cent of respondents said they fully adhered to the isolation requirements for the entire 10-day period after testing positive for coronavirus.

This is down from 78 per cent in September and 86 per cent in May, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which compiled the survey.

The latest figures are based on responses collected from adults in England between Nov 1 and 6.

The ONS described the drop from May to November as “statistically significant”.

The survey also found one in four adults (25 per cent) said they carried out at least one activity during self-isolation that was against the requirements, such as leaving home or having visitors for reasons not permitted under the rules. This is up from 22 per cent in the September survey.

11:11AM

Slovakia set for lockdown 

Slovakia reported its highest daily rise in new cases on Wednesday, just ahead of a government meeting likely to agree a short-term lockdown to quell the world’s fastest surge in infections.

Slovakia, a country of 5.5 million, has the highest per-capita infection rise in the world, according to figures from Our World in Data, as Europe becomes an epicentre of the pandemic again.

Neighbouring Austria has already locked down its population this week, for at least 10 days, to become the first to reimpose such restrictions, and Slovakia was looking at taking a similar step on Wednesday when the government meets.

Before the meeting, Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad said no alternative existed.

“If we want to be responsible, we have only one option, the rest is populism,” he was quoted as saying by news server Dennik N, which earlier reported government parties had a preliminary agreement on a two-week lockdown.

10:38AM

Russian doctors invite big name anti-vaxxers to Covid wards

Leading Russian doctors have invited celebrities and politicians with anti-vaccine views to visit Covid-19 red zones in hospitals and see for themselves the dramatic effects of the pandemic.

In an open letter published by state news agency TASS, 11 doctors from several cities wrote to a dozen public figures who expressed anti-vaccine views to their hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

Russia, one of the countries worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, is struggling with widespread opposition to vaccination even though it has developed several homegrown jabs including Sputnik V.

Despite multiple pleas from President Vladimir Putin, only 37 per cent of Russians are fully vaccinated and the country has seen more than 1,000 deaths a day in recent weeks.

In their letter, the doctors told several singers, actors, TV personalities and politicians who had expressed scepticism over vaccinations that they would take the time to show them around Covid-19 treatment centres.

“We are all somewhat busy, you can probably guess with what,” said the letter, whose signatories included prominent Moscow doctor Denis Protsenko, who is in charge of the capital’s main Covid hospital.

“But given how many people read and listen to you, we will find time to escort you through the red zones, intensive care units and pathology departments of our hospitals,” the doctors said.

“Maybe after that, you will change your position and fewer people will die,” it added.

Meanwhile, Russia’s public health watchdog said its officials have been reporting anti-vaccine activists in Russian regions to law enforcement agencies, reports Nataliya Vasilyeva.

Russian newspaper Izvestia earlier on Wednesday reported that the health officials had informed prosecutors of 37 vocal anti-vaccine activists who could be facing up to three years in prison on charges of spreading information harmful to public health.

10:13AM

EU’s health agency says vaccine boosters should be considered for all adults

The head of the European Union’s public health agency Andrea Ammon has said that Covid-19 vaccine boosters should be considered for all adults, with priority for those aged 40 and older, in a major change to its guidance.

Recommendations issued by the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) are not binding on EU governments but are used to make health policy decisions.

In its previous guidance issued in September alongside the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the ECDC said there was no urgent need for the administration of booster doses to fully vaccinated individuals in the general population, but suggested that additional doses should be considered for people with weakened immune systems and could be used as a precaution for older frail individuals.