Rise in COVID cases as Europe tightens measures
The number of coronavirus deaths in Europe has grown by 5% in the last week, the only region in the world where there has been an increase in mortality. And infections are also increasing in many countries, particularly in the central and eastern parts of the region, while governments are trying to curb the peak by various means: lockdowns for the unvaccinated, limited access to certain services, push on accelerating vaccination.
Germany: the situation is dramatic, according to Chancellor Angela Merkel. 60,753 new cases and 294 new deaths, according to data from the Robert Koch Institut, the national epidemiological centre, with an incidence of 336 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. Anesthesiologists have launched a dramatic appeal: the health system is heading in the direction of catastrophe”, they say, asking the Health Minister Jens Spahn for “effective steps”.
Italy: The country has registered 10,172 new COVID cases in the last 24 hours, the worst since May. Deaths were 72.
Austria: Hospitals are on the verge of collapse and the situation is increasingly dramatic: the government will most likely take further measures on Friday. A lockdown for unvaccinated people has been in force throughout the Austrian territory since midnight last Monday, but a blockade for the vaccinated is not excluded.
Slovakia: In an attempt to tame a “critical” situation in hospitals, the government has announced a series of measures that should remain in force for three weeks: a ban on non-vaccinated people from entering all non-essential stores, shopping centers, in gyms, swimming pools, hotels, and sporting events. Workers will only be able to enter their workplaces with a negative test; and if the situation does not improve, the government is ready to impose further restrictions.
The Netherlands: A partial lockdown has been in effect since Saturday where, for three weeks, bars and restaurants must close at 20.00.
Bulgaria: This country has the highest number of COVID-related deaths per capita in the world and the lowest double vaccination rate among EU states, at just 23%. The situation has deteriorated to the point that hospitals have been forced to suspend all temporarily non-emergency surgeries so that doctors could cope with the influx of COVID patients.
Romania: The situation is also dramatic, where the morgue of the capital Bucharest has run out of places.
Greece: A full fifth wave is in effect where hospitals in Thessaloniki and Volos have run out of beds in intensive care to the point of having to intubate patients in corridors and parking lots.
Czech Republic: A heavy situation also, where 22,479 cases were reported in the last 24 hours. It was therefore decided to ban access to public events for non-vaccinated people.
Ireland: will impose a curfew from midnight today on bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Prime Minister Micheal Martin has announced a series of measures to “reduce socialisation”: from smart working to the vaccination pass, which is always required in more places, starting with theaters and cinemas.
Sweden: From December 1st, the ‘Green pass’ will be required for indoor events with over 100 people.
Doubt cast on email from Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai
The head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has cast doubt on an email released by Chinese state media attributed to tennis player Peng Shuai. Steve Simon, chairman of the WTA, said in a statement he had a “hard time believing” the email was written by Peng or on her behalf. One of China’s biggest sporting stars, has not been heard from since she made sexual assault allegations against Zhang Gaoli, a former Vice-Premier of China. Broadcaster CGTN published the correspondence online. She claims she was not missing or unsafe, adding:”I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine.” The email also said the sexual assault allegation attributed to her was false.
Canada floods: death toll expected to rise
The death toll in Canada from massive floods and landslides that devastated parts of British Columbia is set to rise, with the province declaring a state of emergency on Wednesday. Authorities have so far confirmed one death after torrential rains and mudslides destroyed roads and left several mountain towns isolated. At least three people are missing.
Lukashenko agrees to EU talks on ending migrant standoff
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko agreed Wednesday that the crisis on the Belarus-Poland border needs to be solved by dialogue between EU and Belarusian representatives, Belarus’ state-run Belta news agency reported. In their second phone call this week, the Belarusian leader and Merkel “agreed that the problem as a whole will be brought up to the level of Belarus and the EU”.
Malcolm X’s assassination convictions to be quashed
A senior US prosecutor says two men convicted of the murder in 1965 of the US civil rights leader Malcolm X are to have their convictions quashed. The Manhattan District Attorney says Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam did not get the justice they deserved, as the FBI and police had withheld evidence that would have likely resulted in their acquittal. Malcolm X was shot dead at a New York City ballroom in front of his family. Aziz and Islam – along with a third man, Thomas Hagan – were convicted of the murder, and sentenced to life in prison.