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Europe crumbles after the holidays

At the start of the year, several countries of the Old Continent decided to maintain their restrictions, or even to strengthen them. In Luxembourg, the suspense should be lifted on Tuesday afternoon.

At the start of the year, several countries of the Old Continent decided to maintain their restrictions, or even to strengthen them. In Luxembourg, the suspense should be lifted on Tuesday afternoon.

(AFP) – No question of loosening the screw after the holidays. As Germany prepares to extend its restrictions, Britain reinstates containment on Tuesday to fight against the acceleration of the covid-19 epidemic, due in particular to the new variant of the coronavirus.

The United Kingdom, which deplores more than 75,000 dead, is one of the countries in Europe most bereaved by the pandemic. The variant that rages on its soil has worsened the trend, with more than 50,000 new contaminations per day, and even nearly 59,000 on Monday. “It is clear that we must do more,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, announcing the total reconfinement of England until mid-February. Schools close on Tuesday.

Scotland, in the north of the island of Great Britain, begins its first day of total containment on Tuesday, also with the closure of schools. The other two provinces of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and Wales, had already instituted their third confinement just after Christmas.

At the same time, the immunization campaign is in full swing with the introduction at the beginning of the week of the vaccine from the British laboratory AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, which has begun to be injected in the country. While the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has already been administered to more than a million inhabitants in the United Kingdom since the beginning of December, the British authorities have ordered 100 million doses of that of AstraZeneca-Oxford, less expensive, easier to store and therefore more suitable for a large-scale immunization campaign.

Shaken Germany

Germany, it will undoubtedly extend beyond January 10 the travel restrictions: Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 States-regions should decide Tuesday by videoconference. Most regions would be in favor of an extension until January 31. The country, unlike the United Kingdom, was considered the good European student, but it is strongly affected by the second wave, especially in the East.

The threshold of 1,000 daily deaths was crossed for the first time on December 30, and some 1.775 million cases have been recorded in total since the start of the pandemic, which has killed more than 34,000. Angela Merkel, whose popularity remains very high with less than a year of her departure from the chancellery, was unable in early autumn to impose stricter measures on regions worried about the loss of ‘economic activity.

And the management of the second wave is now criticized by the press, like the daily Die Welt, which speaks of a “great failure”. Daily Bild, the most widely read in Germany, for its part castigates the government’s vaccination strategy, accused of having favored the only product developed by Pfizer in alliance with the German BioNTech, to the detriment of the American vaccine Moderna. Because if more than 264,000 elderly people and caregivers had received a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday, the slowness of vaccinations is pinned down.

This remains incommensurate with France, where only 516 people had been vaccinated as of January 1 in retirement homes, according to the Ministry of Health. Hence strong opposition attacks. Shaken by President Emmanuel Macron, the government on Monday promised a rapid rise, with injections for all caregivers at risk and not only in retirement homes. “I can tell you that today we will have carried out several thousand vaccinations throughout the country, it will increase in power and it will rise even more in power from Wednesday, Thursday, Friday”, assured Monday the minister of Health, Olivier Véran.

France without cultural places

In the meantime, the level of contamination remains worrying, with around “10,000 cases per day” in early December and 15,000 “today”, according to the ministry. And the number of hospitalized covid patients stands at 24,962 – 182 more than on Sunday – the highest since December 21. A situation of bad omen to hope for a reopening of bars and restaurants on January 20, as the government had envisaged, while cultural places have already had to mourn the reception of the public at the start of the school year.

The Netherlands, they decided to bring forward two days, to Wednesday, the start of their vaccination campaign. This country is the last in the EU to embark on vaccination.

For its part, Luxembourg has put in place new measures which will end on January 10, namely this Sunday. Paulette Lenert (LSAP) and Xavier Bettel (DP) are nevertheless expected Tuesday afternoon and could announce an extension, or even a strengthening of these measures.

In total, the pandemic has killed at least 1,843,631 people around the world, according to a latest report established on Monday by AFP from official sources. More than 85,051,970 cases of infection have been officially diagnosed.


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