Roundup: Germany, France, Belgium mull ways to curb 4th wave
Madrid Desk, Jul 12 (EFE).- French president Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce his government’s measures to tackle the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen infections across Europe increase significantly in recent weeks.
Authorities in Belgium are not overly concerned with the surge, as health officials believe the increase will not result in a major spike in hospital admissions.
Meanwhile in Germany, the government is considering adjusting how it gauges the evolution of the pandemic given its advanced vaccination programme.
French President Emmanuel Macron held a cabinet meeting on Monday morning to discuss ways to stem the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic that is threatening to outpace the country’s vaccination programme.
The decisions will be announced by Macron in a televised address on Monday night, when the president is expected to outline public health measures as well as his plans for pension reform, which were disrupted by the pandemic.
It is widely assumed that Macron will announce the compulsory vaccination of all healthcare personnel, which remains relatively low (around 60 percent of health workers had received their first jab by the start of July), despite them having access to the inoculations as a priority group since winter.
Several members of the government, including the health minister, Olivier Véran, have ruled out extending mandatory vaccination to the whole population, although the measure might be imposed on other population groups who come into direct contact with the public, such as teachers.
In order to prevent infections from soaring, officials are also considering extending the use of the coronavirus health certificate, which demonstrates that a person has either received both doses of the vaccine, has recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months or has had a recent negative test result, to restaurants and cinemas.
The certificate is currently required to enter events of more than 1,000 people and nightclubs, which were allowed to reopen on Friday.
Coronavirus infections are expected to increase in Belgium, the country’s government spokesman on the coronavirus, Yves van Laethem, said Monday, although authorities are not concerned that the anticipated spike, driven by the more contagious Delta variant, will result in more hospital admissions thanks to the advanced stage of the vaccine rollout.
Despite registering an 82 percent increase in infections over the course of last week, Belgian authorities are not in favor of reimposing restrictions, van Laethem said, although they will not accelerate the return to normality either.
Their neighbors in the Netherlands have been forced to reimpose restrictions on its population due to an alarming surge of infections since all restrictions were lifted in June.
Speaking to the French-speaking radio RTL, van Laethem said it was positive that Belgium “has not taken extreme measures such as the reopening of night clubs” and said he was confident that it would be possible to “counteract this wave of infections by continuing vaccination”.
Almost two thirds of Belgium’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. The entire population over 18 has been able to make an appointment for a jab for the past month.
“This increase in infections is what we have seen reflected in Spain and the Netherlands. We don’t expect a wave at all at the moment because nothing suggests it in other countries that have the same vaccination status as we do. But an increase in hospitalizations is inevitable,” van Laethem said.
The German government will start combining the weekly incidence of coronavirus infections with the situation in hospitals to assess the pandemic situation.
“As risk groups are largely vaccinated, a high incidence does not automatically mean higher occupancy of intensive care units,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Twitter.