Coronavirus in Europe. Spanish hospitals on the precipice, most infections in Portugal, hundreds of thousands in other countries

In connection with nearly 200,000 coronavirus infections, the Italian government is working on another decree that will extend the requirement to show a sanitary pass at the entrance to many places. Portugal has the highest number of daily infections since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In France, it was again over 360,000 infections. Slovakia plans to admit only citizens vaccinated with three doses to some places and events.

More than 196,000 coronavirus infections were recorded in one day in Italy, the health ministry said on Wednesday. 313 people have died, the most in the current fourth wave of the pandemic. More than 240 new patients were admitted to hospitals. There are approximately 1,670 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units, and 17,000 in other departments. The day before, 220,000 SARS-CoV-2 infections were reported.

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The recently introduced compulsory vaccination for the 50-plus age group within two days has prompted over 40,000 people to do so, according to government data. Mario Draghi’s office is working on another decree that will extend the requirement to show a sanitary pass when entering many locations. According to unofficial media information, without the so-called The Green Pass will only be allowed to enter the grocery store and supermarket, pharmacy, hospital, clinic, and the police or carabinieri station.

Currently, an enhanced certificate, issued on the basis of vaccination or cure, is required in all means of transport, dining establishments and almost everywhere in public places. It does not need to be shown at the entrance to the church.

Controls of compliance with the restrictions during the New Year’s Eve party in RomePAP / EPA

A falling wave of infections in Great Britain

The UK has seen 398 COVID-19 deaths over the past 24 hours, the next day with the highest number since late February, but infection data increasingly suggest that the peak of the wave from the coronavirus omicron variant has passed.

The balance of new deaths announced on Wednesday is 19 higher than on Tuesday, which was the highest since February 24. It is also the fifth case in the last 15 days when the daily death statistics exceeded 300.

On the other hand, the rate of increase of new coronavirus infections is falling. During the last 24 hours, 129.6 thousand of them were detected – this is 65 thousand less than a week earlier. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals has also slightly decreased.

Portugal has had the highest number of infections since the start of the pandemic

The medical services of Portugal recorded almost 41,000 infections with the coronavirus during the last 24 hours – this is the largest number of daily infections since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the last 24 hours, a relatively low number of deaths has been recorded among patients infected with the coronavirus – 20.

The escalation of the fifth wave of the coronavirus in Portugal did not significantly increase the number of hospitalized people. In hospitals, 1.6 thousand people are treated for COVID-19. patients, 167 of which – in intensive care units. More than 90 percent of Portuguese adults are vaccinated.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on Wednesday expressed his hope that the coronavirus infection record means the country is likely to be at the peak of the pandemic, and the number of infections is set to decline in the near future.

Coronavirus in PortugalMARIO CRUZ/PAP/EPA

Spanish health centers overburdened

During the two years of the pandemic in Spain, 15.2 million sick leaves were issued, of which more than 5 million due to COVID-19, according to a report by insurance companies’ organizations (AMAT), published by “ABC”.

Health centers are overloaded. Employers suspect abuses, the report says. The cost of absenteeism in 2020 alone, including production shutdowns, was the equivalent of 9 percent of Spanish GDP, reports AMAT.

As the head of the Spanish SEMES association Tato Vazquez-Lima announced on Wednesday, the situation has become dramatic in almost all regions of the country. – We are on the edge of the abyss. We have been warning against such a scenario for weeks. The situation will not get better soon, the Spanish doctor announced.

According to the estimates of the CSIF trade union, in Spanish hospitals during the escalating pandemic, nearly 30,000 workers are missing. The syndicate representing the interests of public sector employees, including the health service, indicated that the current staff shortages in medical facilities include the effect of numerous cases of COVID-19, as well as holidays that are taken by staff.

France does not want to introduce a lockdown

The French Pasteur Institute announced on Wednesday that the peak of infections with the coronavirus omicron variant will occur in France in mid-January, and the highest rates of hospitalization for COVID-19 are expected in the second half of the month.

On Tuesday, France detected the highest number of daily infections since the beginning of the pandemic – nearly 370,000, and on Wednesday over 361,000. However, Health Minister Olivier Veran estimated that the actual number of coronavirus infections in France is between 500,000 and a million a day.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal assured after the meeting of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday that the government would do everything not to introduce a lockdown and to keep schools open in France.

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Slovakia: Two doses of the vaccine will no longer be enough

Only the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will entitle you to enter certain public venues or participate in certain events in Slovakia. Eduard Heger’s government on Wednesday reduced the validity of the sickness certificate from 180 days to 90 days. The government also decided to lift the ban on assemblies that had been in force since November 2021.

Changes in the acceptance of certificates of past disease or possession of two doses of the vaccine were adopted in relation to the expected wave of the Omikron variant. They are to apply from January 19 and will apply to guests of wellness centers, gyms and water parks, as well as balls and discos.

People with three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine can use them without any further requirements. People with two doses must additionally prove a negative coronavirus test result. At the same time, the validity of certificates of accepted vaccines was reduced from 12 to 9 months.

Austria wants to avoid another lockdown

Despite the highest number of new coronavirus infections, nearly 17,000 in the last 24 hours, the Austrian government is not planning any additional restrictions for the time being, said Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein (the Greens) after Wednesday’s government meeting.

Experts assume that in just a week the number of infections may increase to 30,000 a day. However, these announcements will not lead to the introduction of more stringent measures, Mueckstein said. Compared to other European countries, Austria “has chosen a safe path” – emphasized the minister.

New variants of the coronavirus are detected worldwideRUNGROJ YONGRIT/PAP/EPA

Mueckstein stressed that the most important goal is to avoid another lockdown and “keep the country moving”. “With the Delta variant, we hit a good starting position in early December, but then the omicron came in and mixed things up,” added Mueckstein.

He said no further tightening of the rules is necessary, as hospital intensive care units are currently 12 percent occupied. – At Delta, every fourth person hospitalized went to the intensive care unit, while at the omicron it is only every tenth. We control the situation – emphasized the minister.

Denmark relaxes restrictions

The Danish government on Wednesday announced a relaxation of severe epidemic restrictions in connection with slowing the growth of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. Cultural institutions will be reopened from Sunday.

– The steep spikes in infections and hospitalizations in December have flattened. The small number of patients in intensive care is important. In this respect, we are in a better position than other countries, said Minister of Health Magnus Haunicke at a press conference in the evening.

The opening of museums, art galleries, cinemas, theaters and amusement parks as well as schools for adults was recommended to the authorities by experts from the epidemic committee. It will be possible to organize outdoor sports events again.

Other restrictions will still apply. Casinos and nightclubs remain closed until the end of January, and restaurants can serve alcohol only until 22. The requirement to show a certificate of vaccination for COVID-19 has been maintained in many places. The validity of the document after the second dose will be reduced from seven to five months. For now, it is not known how long the certificate after the third dose will be valid.

Switzerland shortens the time of quarantine

The Swiss government announced on Wednesday that it has cut coronavirus-related quarantine times from 10 to five days. The Swiss Federal Council explains that the reason for this decision is more and more infections with the omicron variant, which has much faster transmission than the previous variants and a shorter time of disease development in the body.

Swiss authorities are making no secret of the fact that tens of thousands of people contract the coronavirus every day, so there are fears that the current wave of the pandemic may soon cripple the healthcare system. It is stressed that although the omicron seems less dangerous than previous variants, hospitalization is expected to increase due to the very high number of infections, which rose to 32,881 new cases on Wednesday.

“It can be assumed that the rapid increase in the incidence of COVID-19 will lead medical care, or rather its efficiency in terms of the work of nurses, to the limit” – predict the authorities. “The epidemic situation is critical and still difficult to assess,” wrote the Swiss government in a press release, which also proposes an extension to the end of March of restrictions on public life introduced last month.

Over 15 million coronavirus infections in a week

The number of coronavirus infections in the world last week increased by 55 percent compared to the previous week. However, the number of deaths from COVID-19 remained at a similar level, reports the WHO. The dominant variant of SARS-CoV-2 remains the omicron.

Between January 3 and 9, over 15 million coronavirus infections were diagnosed worldwide, and over 43,000 died. people infected, the WHO reported in its weekly report published Tuesday night.

Main photo source: SASCHA STEINBACH/PAP/EPO

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