‘Jabbed, cured or dead,’ Germany warns as Europe battles COVID-19 surge

‘Jabbed, cured or dead,’ Germany warns as Europe battles COVID-19 surge
German Health Minister Jens Spahn urged more citizens to get the jab. (AFP)
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Updated 24 November 2021

‘Jabbed, cured or dead,’ Germany warns as Europe battles COVID-19 surge

‘Jabbed, cured or dead,’ Germany warns as Europe battles COVID-19 surge
  • Outgoing Chancellor Merkel warned that Germany’s current Covid curbs “are not enough.”

BERLIN: Germans faced the stark warning Monday that they would be “vaccinated, cured or dead” from Covid by the end of winter, while Austria returned to a partial lockdown as Europe battles an upsurge in the pandemic.
Belgium and the Netherlands are still reeling from clashes that rocked weekend protests against new anti-Covid measures.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte labelled three nights of unrest “pure violence” by “idiots” and his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo called violence at a 35,000-strong protest in Brussels “absolutely unacceptable.”
Europe’s return to the pandemic’s epicenter has been blamed on a sluggish vaccine uptake in some nations, the highly contagious Delta variant and colder weather moving people indoors again.
“Probably by the end of this winter, as is sometimes cynically said, pretty much everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, cured or dead,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said, as he urged more citizens to get the jab.
But in a stark reminder that the vaccine does not necessarily stop infection, French Prime Minister Jean Castex tested positive on Monday despite being double-jabbed.
Castex, who will isolate for 10 days, tested positive after a meeting in Brussels with De Croo, whose office later announced he and several ministers would quarantine.
Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany’s current Covid curbs — including barring the unvaccinated from certain public spaces — “are not enough.”
She told a meeting of leaders of her conservative CDU party that the situation was “highly dramatic,” according to participants.
With intensive care beds swiftly filling up, Germany’s worst-hit regions have ordered new shutdowns, including the closure of Christmas markets.
The restrictions mirror those in neighboring Austria, which closed shops, restaurants and festive markets on Monday, the most drastic restrictions seen in Western Europe for months.
Its 8.9 million people are allowed to leave home only to go to work, shop for essentials or exercise.
The Alpine nation also plans a vaccine mandate from February 1, one of few places in the world to so far to announce such a move.
“Look around you, nobody is here,” said Anelia Lyotin, manning a stall in Vienna selling nuts and dried fruit.
“This situation now is bad for everyone and the only solution is that everyone gets vaccinated,” said the 36-year-old.
Across the border in Slovakia, unvaccinated people were also facing curbs blocking them from entering non-essential stores.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in European cities at the weekend.
Dozens were arrested in the Netherlands over unrest that began in Rotterdam on Friday, and Belgian police fired water cannon and tear gas at protesters on Sunday.
A crowd of 40,000 marched through Vienna on Saturday decrying “dictatorship.”
French security forces arrived in Guadeloupe after a week of unrest over Covid measures, with President Emmanuel Macron pleading for calm on the French Caribbean island.
The Red Cross said in a report on Monday that the pandemic had damaged the “fabric of society.”
It said that women and migrants were among the most affected by secondary effects of the crisis such as income loss, food insecurity, reduced protection against violence and worsening mental health issues.
Austria’s decision to reimpose a partial lockdown came after Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg criticized the “shamefully low” vaccine rate — 66 percent compared to France’s 75 percent — and banned the unjabbed from public spaces.
When that proved ineffective, he announced a nationwide lockdown, with an evaluation after 10 days.
In Germany, the EU’s most populous nation, just 68 percent of the population is fully jabbed.
The country has urged all vaccinated adults to get a booster jab to combat waning vaccine efficacy after six months — a call echoed by two French advisory bodies on Monday.
The European Medicines’ Agency said it was evaluating an application by Johnson & Johnson to be approved as a top-up shot, having already approved Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna boosters.


Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents

Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents
Updated 26 January 2022

Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents

Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents
  • Once the mandate goes into effect, authorities will write to every household to inform them of the new rules

BERLIN: Austria will end its lockdown for unvaccinated residents next Monday — one day before a COVID-19 vaccine mandate takes effect in the country, the government announced Wednesday, according to Austrian news agency APA.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein said the measure, which was introduced in November, was no longer needed because there was no threat of hospital intensive care units being overstretched, APA reported.
For weeks, the lockdown for the unvaccinated has been “a measure that many people complained about, but that was unavoidable for health policy reasons,” Nehammer said.
On Feb. 1, a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for adults — the first of its kind in Europe — will take effect in the small Alpine country. Officials have said the mandate is necessary because vaccination rates remain too low. They say it will ensure that Austria’s hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. So far, 75.4 percent of the country’s residents have been fully vaccinated.
Once the mandate goes into effect, authorities will write to every household to inform them of the new rules.
From mid-March, police will start checking people’s vaccination status during routine checks; people who can’t produce proof of vaccination will be asked to do so in writing, and will be fined up to 600 euros ($676) if they don’t.
If authorities judge the country’s vaccination progress still to be insufficient, Nehammer said earlier this month, they would then send reminders to people who remain unvaccinated. If even that doesn’t work, people would be sent a vaccination appointment and fined if they don’t keep it. Officials hope they won’t need to use the last measure. Fines could reach 3,600 euros if people contest their punishment and full proceedings are opened.


Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack

Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack
Updated 26 January 2022

Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack

Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack
  • ‘At the moment, as we speak, this number is insufficient for a full-scale offensive against Ukraine along the entire Ukrainian border’
KIEV: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Wednesday that the number of Russian troops deployed along his country’s border was not enough for a major attack.
“The number of Russian troops amassed along the border of Ukraine and occupied territories of Ukraine is large, it poses a threat to Ukraine, a direct threat to Ukraine,” Kuleba told reporters.
“However, at the moment, as we speak, this number is insufficient for a full-scale offensive against Ukraine along the entire Ukrainian border.”

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack
Updated 26 January 2022

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack
  • The day-long siege occurred on Jan. 15 when a British man took four people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville

LONDON: British police said on Wednesday they had arrested two men in the northern English city of Manchester as part of a US investigation into a hostage taking at a synagogue in Texas earlier in January.
British police had previously said they had arrested four people over the incident: two teenagers in Manchester plus one man in Birmingham and another man in Manchester. The teenagers have been released without charge.
The day-long siege occurred on Jan. 15 when a British man took four people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, about 16 miles northeast of Fort Worth, Texas. The gunman died as federal agents stormed the temple while the four hostages were released unharmed.


Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February

Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February
Updated 26 January 2022

Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February

Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February
  • The move is the most far-reaching easing of curbs yet seen among the Nordic countries

COPENHAGEN: Denmark aims to scrap all remaining COVID-19 restrictions next week, the most far-reaching easing of curbs yet seen among the Nordic countries.
In a letter addressed to parliament, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the government intends to follow recommendations issued by an expert panel on Tuesday to scrap all restrictions.
The proposal is still subject to parliamentary approval.


Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list

Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list
Updated 26 January 2022

Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list

Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list
  • Oleg Navalny, whose whereabouts are unknown, was last year held under house arrest between January and April
  • He was handed a one-year suspended sentence for violating safety regulations linked to the COVID-19 pandemic

MOSCOW: Russia has put the brother of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on a wanted list, according to interior ministry records, as he faces a summons for a court hearing that could convert a suspended sentence against him into a prison term.
Oleg Navalny, whose whereabouts are unknown, was last year held under house arrest between January and April and handed a one-year suspended sentence for violating safety regulations linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those charges were filed after he took part in a Moscow rally against his brother Alexei’s arrest.
The Federal Penitentiary Service will petition a Moscow court on Feb. 18 to sentence Oleg Navalny to jail time for failing to comply with restrictions imposed against him for violating safety regulations, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
The 38-year-old was released from prison in 2018 after serving three-and-a-half years for an embezzlement conviction that critics say was designed to pressure his brother and smother dissent.
Alexei Navalny was given a suspended sentence in the same case, converted into a prison term last year because of alleged parole violations. He says the charges against him are politically motivated.
An anti-corruption campaigner and high-profile critic of President Vladimir Putin for the past decade, he survived being poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020 and his political network was banned as “extremist” last year.