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Why riots have erupted as Europe faces a massive rise in Covid-19

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Protesters in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. This has led to a reversal of restrictions that had been slowly eased as people prepared for the Christmas season, sparking street anger amid new mask mandates and tightening vaccination rules.

Where have violent protests taken place in Europe?

Fresh restrictions have been restored across European countries, which has seen a steady increase in Covid-19 cases since mid-September, just at a time when the continent was preparing to emerge from the shadows of the pandemic and embrace a more normalcy. big. .

The Netherlands, where protesters have were agitated and clashed with police in cities like The Hague and Rotterdam, had imposed a partial three-week blockade in mid-November after witnessing a record increase in cases. Bars and restaurants have imposed restrictions on their opening hours, while spectators have again been banned from sporting events.

Unruly protests were also reported in the Belgian capital Brussels, where tens of thousands of people took part in a march against anti-Covid measures. Reports say protesters are demanding a reinstatement of the Covid permit system, which bans unvaccinated people from entering restaurants and bars and other public spaces, even though mask rules have been tightened.

Large protests have also taken place in Austria, Croatia and Italy for the return of the Covid curb. Austrians have taken to the streets after the government announced a new national blockade and said it plans to make vaccines mandatory for everyone starting in February 2022, the first European country to bring a legal requirement to vaccinate its population. . Austria is also going through a 20-day nationwide blockade.

What is the situation with Covid-19 in Europe?

The World Health Organization (WHO) had said in early November that Europe was again “at the epicenter” of the Covid pandemic and that the continent could see another half a million deaths before next summer unless urgent action was taken.

“Covid-19 has once again become the number one cause of death in our region,” the BBC quoted him as saying WHO Regional Director Dr. Hans Kluge as he says. He added that to fight the new growth, the stress once again has to be on vaccinating as many people as possible, getting back into wearing masks and using Covid cards.

The continent has so far seen more than 71.5 million cases and close to 1.4 million deaths from Covid. European countries cumulatively registered 7.95 million new cases in the month to November 20, while the total number of cases increased in the month to October 20 was 4.53 million.

According to Our World In Data, the continent recorded 100,000 more deaths in the month to November 20, compared to 70,000 deaths the month before.

What lies behind the rise of Covid cases across Europe?

Dr Kluge said the arrival of the winter season, insufficient vaccine coverage and the spread of the more contagious Delta variant – first reported in India in late 2020 – were behind the rapid rise in cases across Europe. Reports say the Delta variant has been found to be up to three times more contagious than the original type and is also associated with immunity, meaning that even vaccinated people can catch the disease again, although they mostly show only mild symptoms. or remain asymptomatic.

Experts seeking to explain the new wave of cases in Europe are also investigative factors as well weakening of immunity from vaccines and facilitating precautionary measures for social camouflage and distancing. The effectiveness of vaccines used in Europe is also under scanning amid the introduction of booster vaccines by countries.

One report also suggested that the fact that European countries had introduced stricter restrictions than many other jurisdictions could mean that the increase in cases is due to fewer unvaccinated people who were exposed to the virus in the first place who began to contract the disease while things opened up. .

But the slow pace of vaccinations and the reluctance of some people to choose a vaccine are being seen as the main factor behind Covid growth.

Reports said in early November that while about 80 percent of qualified people in Spain had received both Covid vaccines, the percentage was about 66 percent in Germany and still lower in Russia – where only 32 percent of people had been vaccinated. fully vaccinated by October 2021 – and some Eastern European countries.

Dr Kluge, therefore, called on countries to step up their vaccination efforts and reintroduce basic precautions to control the increase in cases.

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