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Briefing on Coronavirus: What Happened Today




Tens of thousands of people marched in Vienna this weekend to protest Austria’s blockade and coronavirus restrictions. Most of the marchers were peaceful, but some members of far-right groups and others burned masks, threw beer cans at police officers and launched pyrotechnics.

Mass demonstrations also took place in Switzerland, Brussels and the Dutch city of Rotterdam, sometimes accompanied by outbreaks of violence.

There are perhaps additional roadblocks across Europe: Slovak and German politicians are also discussing an Austrian-like vaccination mandate as the only way to overcome the pandemic steadily.

Perhaps by the end of this winter, as is sometimes said cynically, said German Health Minister Jens Spahn, almost everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, cured or died.

The Austrian states of Salzberg and Upper Austria are among the most affected countries, according to my Berlin-based colleague Christopher Schuetze.

They have had such bad numbers of cases that, apparently, there was a hospital where they had the dead lying in the corridor, in the gurne, he said. Not all of Italy in the spring of 2020, but close to that.

Resistance to public health measures is growing. However, European leaders may think they have no choice but to implement them, despite the spread of vaccines seen a year ago as a surefire way out of the pandemic.

It’s basically like they’re in a car walking 200 miles an hour, getting into the wall, Chris said. At some point, someone has to hit the holidays.

Some European countries that have imposed strict mandates have seen success.

France has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world after imposing strict mandates. In Italy, protests against the mandates have ceased. Reaction to the vaccine has waned in Spain as well.

Vaccination rates fall as you travel east to Europe. Germany, Austria and the German-speaking region of Switzerland have the highest percentage of unvaccinated populations on the continent: About one in four people over the age of 12 are unvaccinated, compared with about one in 10 in France and Italy and almost zero in Portugal.

To make matters worse, Germany is facing a dwindling supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine as it seeks to provide booster vaccines.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia each each average about 10,000 cases per day, and infections are also high in Greece, Hungary and Croatia. The president of Slovakia, Austria’s eastern neighbor, also raised the possibility of a universal mandate on Saturday.

Austria’s nationwide vaccination mandate for the first Europe is set to take full effect in February. The decision came after months of efforts to stop the virus from spreading through testing and partial restrictions, including a blockade only for unvaccinated people.

Politically, it is very, very unpleasant to either have a vaccination mandate or shut down completely, Chris said. This will give the far right a lot of political power. But they have reached a point where they can not do so. It just got so bad.

Coronavirus vaccines are a tough sale in South Sudan, the youngest country in the world. Many people recognize the pandemic as a threat, but not very urgent.

We heard that people are dying, but we have not seen anyone sick here, said a village mayor in a rural area who has suffered from floods for years. When you are hungry, do not think about other things that you need to initially feed your stomach.

The vast majority of the 11 million people living in one of the poorest countries on Earth have not yet been vaccinated against the coronavirus. Times photojournalist Lynsey Addario spent almost a week traveling with a UN team that was in South Sudan to assess flood damage and prepare for the spread of the vaccine in the region.

What children are dying from is malaria, diarrheal diseases, respiratory infections, said Yves Willemot, a UNICEF communications officer. We have a child in 10 who dies before the age of 5 and they do not die from Covid-19.

However, in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, there was a steady influx of people to vaccination sites throughout the city. A young man had little use for rumors in his neighborhood that the vaccine spreads to the liver and causes death within a year. He wanted a kick so he could continue his studies abroad, in Uganda.

If you do not have the vaccine, he said, they will not let us in.

I live in Austria. I did not want to be vaccinated. But restrictions for the unvaccinated were redundant. Not for me, I am an author and work from home. But I had to be vaccinated to take my little boy everywhere (hairdresser, McDonalds, etc.). So I did it for him.Avlon McCreadie, Austria

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