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COVID-19

EU urges countries to reinstate curbs to halt coronavirus resurgence

EU health authorities have urged countries to consider reinstating some restrictions if they have started seeing a resurgence of new coronavirus cases.

EU urges countries to reinstate curbs to halt coronavirus resurgence
Germany was one of the countries that reported most of the new cases in late July, said ECDC. Photo: John MacDougall/AFP

In its latest risk assessment, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said there was evidence that the novel coronavirus was picking up speed.

“While many countries are now testing mild and asymptomatic cases, which has resulted in increased case reports, there is a true resurgence in cases in several countries as a result of physical distancing measures being relaxed,” the agency said.

The Stockholm-based agency said for those countries seeing an increase “the risk of further escalation of Covid-19 is high”.

If those countries fail to implement or reinforce restrictions, the risk was “very high”, it warned.

 

According to the ECDC, countries that had seen the increase after control measures were lifted, “should consider re-instating selected measures through a phased, step-wise and sustainable approach”.

The ECDC also said the total number of daily cases, as well as the 14-day incidence rate seemed to be increasing, “although it is currently lower than the first peak which occurred on April 9th, 2020”.

In the two weeks leading up to August 2th, most of the over 100,000 new cases were reported in Spain, Romania, France, the UK and Germany, it said.

According to a tally by AFP, over 3.3 million cases of Covid-19 have so far been recorded in Europe as well as 213,353 deaths.

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COVID-19

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.

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