a new variant in South Africa, explosion of cases in Europe

UPDATE ON THE SITUATION – New measures, new reports and highlights: Le Figaro takes stock of the latest developments in the Covid-19 pandemic.

New variant in South Africa, Pfizer vaccine approved for 5-11 year olds, new measures in France, explosion of cases in Europe …. Le Figaro takes stock this Friday, November 26 on the latest information related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

South Africa: new variant

A new variant of Covid-19, known as B.1.1.529, potentially very contagious and with multiple mutations, has been detected in South Africa, which is seeing signs of a new wave. At this point, South African scientists are unsure of the effectiveness of existing vaccines against this new variant.

To date, 22 cases have been reported, mostly affecting young people, according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD). Cases have also been reported in neighboring Botswana and Hong Kong, on a person returning from a trip to South Africa.

WHO said “to follow closely” this new variant and must meet on Friday to determine its dangerousness. According to scientists, the new variant B.1.1.529 has at least 10 mutations, compared to two for the Delta.

United Kingdom: travelers from six African countries banned from entering

The United Kingdom announced Thursday that it will ban entry to travelers from six African countries, after South Africa announced the discovery of a new variant of Covid-19 with multiples mutations.

All flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana will be suspended as of Friday 12 p.m. GMT.

Europe: Pfizer vaccine approved for 5-11 year olds

Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for children aged 5 to 11, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Thursday.

New measures in France

Faced with the epidemic rebound, France announced Thursday a strengthening of measures for vaccination and the health pass, without considering at this stage “No confinement, no curfew”.

The booster dose of the anti-Covid vaccine, currently available to over 65s, will be open to all adults from Saturday.

As of January 15, 2022, in the absence of a reminder, the health pass will be invalid seven months after the last injection. As for the period of validity of negative tests, opening right to the pass, it will be reduced to 24 hours (instead of 72 hours).

Due to the resumption of the pandemic in France, Morocco will suspend regular flights between the two countries from Friday evening.

Prosecute countries blocking the lifting of patents

Lawyers and human rights defenders announced on Thursday that they wanted to take legal action against Germany and other countries accused of blocking negotiations for the lifting of patents on anti-Covid vaccines.

Africa: one in 4 caregivers fully vaccinated

Only 27% of health professionals, or about one in four, have been fully vaccinated in Africa against Covid-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated Thursday.

Germany: Merkel calls for “additional restrictions”

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday urged the emerging German government to quickly tighten measures to tackle the spike in infections as the country crosses the 100,000 virus-related death mark.

Czech Republic: Christmas markets and nightclubs closed

The Czech government declared a thirty-day state of emergency on Thursday, including the closure of Christmas markets and nightclubs.

Belgium: the rebound exceeds the “most pessimistic” forecasts

The increase in contamination and hospitalizations linked to Covid in Belgium is “Higher than the most pessimistic curves” experts, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Thursday, who will urgently bring together the heads of the executives of the federated entities on Friday morning to decide on new measures.

Daily contaminations broke a record in Belgium on Monday with 23,621 new infections, according to the public health institute Sciensano.

Netherlands and Belgium ready to announce new measures

In the aftermath of a tightening announced in France and the crossing of the 100,000 dead threshold reached by Germany, their Dutch and Belgian neighbors are preparing to make decisions that are sometimes difficult to accept among the population, especially in the Netherlands.

At a press conference scheduled for Friday evening, Prime Minister Mark Rutte could announce the closure of bars and restaurants at 5 p.m., instead of 8 p.m. currently, local media reported.

Europe once again became the global epicenter of the pandemic this fall, while the highly contagious Delta variant reduced the effectiveness of vaccines against the transmission of the disease to 40%, according to the WHO.

More than 5.17 million dead

The pandemic caused by the coronavirus has killed at least 5,173,915 worldwide since the end of 2019, according to a report established by AFP from official sources Thursday at 11:00 GMT.

The United States is the most bereaved country, with 775,785 deaths, ahead of Brazil (613,642), India (466,980), Mexico (293,186) and Russia (269,057 deaths).

In Europe, the Covid-19 has caused the death of more than 1.5 million people, according to the AFP count.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, taking into account the excess mortality directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19, that the toll of the pandemic in the world could be two to three times higher than that calculated from official figures.

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