The Malta Independent 17 August 2022, Wednesday

Live Covid updates: Majority of patients in German ICUs not vaccinated

Associated Press Friday, 14 January 2022, 06:22 Last update: about 8 months ago

BERLIN (AP) — Most COVID-19 patients in intensive care in German hospitals aren't vaccinated, data published on Thursday indicates.

The data from Germany's intensive care association DIVI showed that 62% of ICU patients whose vaccine status was known had received no protective shots against the coronavirus. Unvaccinated people make up about a quarter of the German population.

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Almost 10% were only partially vaccinated while 28% of ICU patients were fully inoculated, it said.

About 72.3 % of the German population has received at least two jabs, while 45.1% have also had a booster shot.

Germany's independent vaccine advisory panel on Thursday endorsed booster shots for children and adolescents aged 12 to 17.

The expert committee said children in that age range should receive the mRNA shot made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech at least three months after their last vaccination.

Germany has seen a steady rise in cases in recent weeks as the Omicron variant has started spreading throughout the country.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany's disease control agency, 81,417 newly confirmed infections in the past 24 hours, and 316 deaths.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach told lawmakers on Thursday that he believes compulsory vaccination for everyone is "the fastest and safest way out of the pandemic."

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PARIS (AP) — French teachers voiced anger at the way the French government is handling the pandemic in schools, denounced confusing rules and called for more protection during a nationwide strike on Thursday.

Exhausted by the pressures of surging COVID-19 cases, many teachers answered the call by 11 unions to protest virus-linked class disruptions and ever-changing isolation rules.

France is at the epicenter of Europe's current fight against COVID-19, with new infections topping 360,000 a day this week, driven by the highly contagious omicron variant.

Health Minister Olivier Veran announced on Twitter Thursday that he tested positive for the virus and was self-isolating in order to continue working.

The teachers' strike puts the government of President Emmanuel Macron under additional pressure a week after opposition lawmakers delayed implementation of a key measure that mandates proof of vaccination for entry into restaurants, cultural and sport facilities.

Teachers want clarifications on rules and more protections, such as extra masks and tests to help relieve the strain.

Among those at a demonstration in Paris' city center was English teacher and SE-UNA union member Lilia Larbi who said that people are "fed up" with the situation at school.

"The strike is not against the virus, it's against bad communication, changing rules... and the bad handling of the sanitary crisis," she said, adding that the government "is denying reality."

Larbi said she taught to only three children in her class on Wednesday because colleagues either tested positive for COVID-19 or were waiting for test results. "We feel like we're babysitting" rather than teaching, she said.

Paris teacher Frédéric Le Bihan expressed "exasperation" at the confusing "orders and counterorders."

Within a span of a week, authorities changed the rules on testing schoolchildren twice.

Le Bihan said teachers are under additional pressure from parents who expected them to implement government directives "which is not possible."

Unions estimated that 62% to 75% of teachers were supporting the protest movement, depending on which school they're posted. The government said 27% of teachers were on strike.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The new Dutch government met Thursday to discuss whether to extend or ease its coronavirus lockdown amid growing anger among owners of businesses that have been shuttered for weeks.

The Netherlands has been in a strict lockdown since mid-December, with measures including all nonessential stores, bars, restaurants, cinemas, theaters and museums closing their doors, while European neighbors such as Germany and Belgium have imposed far fewer restrictions.

That has led to frustration particularly in towns and cities close to the borders that are seeing people shuttling across borders to shop or dine out.

The lockdown is in place until at least the end of Friday. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and new Health Minister Ernst Kuipers will hold a press conference Friday evening to announce the future of the measures.

Dutch media, citing unnamed sources in The Hague, reported that the government plans to ease the lockdown by allowing non-essential stores to resume business with people who make appointments, permitting businesses like hairdressers and gyms to reopen and letting university and other higher education students return to classes. Elementary and high schools re-opened earlier this week. The government did not comment.

Some businesses are planning to open their doors on Saturday regardless of whether lockdown measures remain in force.

Shop owners in the Wyck neighborhood of the southern city of Maastricht, near the borders with Germany and Belgium, posted messages on social media to say they would open from noon until 5 p.m. on Saturday, and stores in other towns made similar plans.

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LONDON (AP) — British officials said Thursday the self-isolation period for people in England who test positive for COVID-19 will be reduced from next week to five full days, instead of seven.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid also said that early signs indicate that the rate of hospitalization from the coronavirus in the country is starting to slow.

Javid told Parliament that official data suggested two-thirds of people are no longer infectious by the end of the fifth day after they test positive. He said that starting Monday, those infected can leave isolation from the start of day 6, after taking two negative tests.

Currently, those infected can be released from self-isolation after seven days if they test negative on both days six and seven.

Javid urged people to continue to self-test for the virus, so that "we can restore the freedoms to this country while we're keeping everyone safe."

The U.K. saw record numbers of daily confirmed infections over Christmas and New Year, topping 200,000 cases on some days, as the more transmissible omicron variant spread rapidly. Industries from retail to education, and infrastructure like public transport and postal services, have been severely disrupted because scores of workers had to isolate and could not go to work.

Javid told lawmakers that although hospitals will "remain under significant pressure" over the coming weeks -- with almost 17,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in England -- the current wave of the pandemic has not seen an increase in intensive care patients.

Official data showed "encouraging signs" that cases were falling in London and eastern England, he added, but infections were rising elsewhere in the country.

Javid stressed that vaccines, testing and antiviral treatments continue to be the best way to "protect our health and our freedoms as we learn to live with COVID."

The U.K. has entered the third year of coping with the pandemic "but this virus is not going away," he added.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark will offer fourth coronavirus vaccination shots to risk groups and vulnerable citizens as the pandemic situation in the country has worsened due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said Wednesday that health authorities would offer fourth vaccine jabs to the "most vulnerable groups" such as those with weakened immune systems.

Heunicke didn't say when the rollout of the fourth jab would begin in the country of 5.8 million. He stressed that while the omicron variant appears to be less dangerous than the previously dominant delta variant, it is not harmless.

Effective Jan. 16, Denmark will ease some of coronavirus restrictions as lawmakers agreed to reopen cinemas, entertainment parks, museums and theaters among other venues. Also, limited numbers of spectators will be allowed at indoor and outdoor sports events.

Only a handful of countries worldwide have begun fourth vaccinations, or announced plans to do so.

Israeli media have reported that over 250,000 of the country's citizens have so far received a fourth shot since the rollout started in early January. Israelis aged 60 and over, medical workers and those with weakened immune systems are eligible for the fourth jab.

 

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