Corona Virus: What is happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday


This was supposed to be the Christmas in Europe when family and friends could once again embrace each other’s festive festivities. Instead, the continent is the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic with cases rising to record levels in many countries.

With infection rates rising again despite nearly two years of restrictions, the health crisis is increasingly pitting citizen against citizen – vaccinated against unvaccinated.

Desperate to protect overburdened health-care systems, governments are imposing rules that limit the options of the unvaccinated in the hope that this will lead to higher vaccination rates.

Austria on Friday went a step further, making vaccinations mandatory from February 1.

“For a long time, perhaps for a very long time, I and others believed that people in Austria had to be persuaded, to persuade them to voluntarily vaccinate,” Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.

Police officers check the vaccination status of visitors during a patrol in the Christmas market in Vienna on Friday. Austria ordered a nationwide lockdown on Monday and made vaccinations mandatory from February 1. (Lisa Lautner/The Associated Press)

He described the move as “our only way out of this vicious cycle of viral waves and lockdown discussions for good”.

Governments tighten the screws

While Austria stands so far alone in the European Union in making vaccinations mandatory, more and more governments are tightening the screws.

From Monday, Slovakia bans people who have not been vaccinated from all non-essential stores and shopping malls. They will also not be allowed to attend any public event or gathering and will be required to test twice a week just to go to work.

Prime Minister Edward Heger warned that “Christmas does not mean Christmas without COVID-19”. For that to happen, Slovakia would need a completely different vaccination rate.

He described the measures as “close to the unvaccinated.”

Problems at the level of Europe

Slovakia, where only 45.3 percent of its 5.5 million residents have been fully vaccinated, reported 8,342 new cases of the virus on Tuesday.

It is not only Central and Eastern European countries that are suffering again. The rich nations of the West are also taking a hard hit and are imposing restrictions on their populations once again.

A COVID-19 patient receives care in the intensive care unit at the Asklepios Clinic in Gauting, Germany, on Friday. The head of Germany’s disease control agency said regular medical care can no longer be guaranteed in parts of the country because hospitals and intensive care wards are overwhelmed. (Matthias Balck/DPA/The Associated Press)

“It is really time, for sure, to take action,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday. With a vaccination rate of 67.5 percent, her country is now considering mandatory vaccinations for many health professionals.

Greece, too, is targeting the unvaccinated with new measures. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a raft of new restrictions late Thursday on the unvaccinated, keeping them out of places including bars, restaurants, cinemas, theaters, museums and gyms, even if they test negative.

“It’s an immediate protective action and of course an indirect desire to vaccinate,” Mitsotakis said.

— From The Associated Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET

What’s happening all over Canada

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What is happening around the world

Burning bikes were seen in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam on Saturday after a protest against COVID-19 restrictions turned violent the night before. (Jeffrey Groeneweg/ANP/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Saturday, more than 256.8 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker. The reported global death toll has reached more than 5.1 million.

in a EuropeIn Rotterdam, police opened fire on protesters and seven people were injured in a riot that broke out in downtown Rotterdam over a demonstration against COVID-19 restrictions. The mayor told reporters in the early hours of Saturday morning that rioters overran the downtown shopping area of ​​the Dutch coastal city, setting fires and throwing stones and fireworks at officers.

in a Asia, 200 vaccinated foreign tourists arrived on the beachfront island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam on Saturday, in the first wave of visitors to the country in nearly two years as it seeks to revive a tourism economy wracked by the pandemic.

A health care worker takes a nasal swab sample from a South Korean tourist for COVID-19 testing upon their arrival on the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc on Saturday. (Vinpearl/Handout/Reuters)

in a Africa, On Friday, Nigerian authorities launched a campaign to significantly expand immunization against the coronavirus in the country. Officials aim to vaccinate half the population before February, a goal they believe will help them achieve herd immunity.

in a the Americas, The United States on Friday opened up COVID-19 booster footage to all adults and took the extra step of urging those 50 and older to seek one, aiming to stave off the winter wave as coronavirus cases soar even before millions of Americans travel for the holidays.

— From Reuters, Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 7 a.m. ET

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