Netherlands relax travel restrictions, US decides to keep them

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At the heart of the summer season, a new wave of Covid-19 contamination – but especially its more contagious variants – threatens almost the entire planet. Iraq has notably recorded, in the last twenty-four hours, its highest figure of new contaminations ever recorded since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

In Senegal, too, the situation is deteriorating rapidly and hospitals in the capital, Dakar, are “Close to saturation, with almost 99% occupancy rate”, explained the national director of public health establishments, Ousmane Dia. The medical staff is “Very tired and in burn-out” and screening laboratories are also “Overwhelmed by high demand”, both for “Suspected cases only for travelers”, also entrusted the ministry of health.

Across the world, the pandemic has killed more than 4.16 million since the end of December 2019, out of more than 194 million confirmed contaminations, according to a report established by Agence France-Presse (AFP), Monday July 26. . The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the toll of the pandemic could be two to three times higher than that which is officially established.

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  • Divergent strategies on travel restrictions in the Netherlands, Congo-Brazzaville and the United States

Contrary to the evolution of the health situation, Netherlands on Monday announced the easing of restrictions and re-authorizing travel to all countries of the European Union (EU), several of which had remained off-limits to the Dutch, only then due to a high rate of infections.

From Tuesday, a negative opinion ” will not be given that in countries with a new variant of concern which is not yet widespread in the Netherlands ”, said the Ministry of Health. And from August 8, travelers over the age of 12 will need to test negative before returning to the Netherlands from those countries.

Read also: Faced with Covid-19 variants, the EU wants to further reduce travel in Europe

On the other hand, the government announced the extension, until 1is September, the ban on festivals spanning several days. The 2021 editions of internationally known music festivals such as Lowlands, Mysteryland and Down the Rabbit Hole, scheduled for August, are therefore canceled. A decision on whether to hold the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort in early September is also expected on August 13.

An Air France Airbus A350 aircraft, in September 2019.

Conversely, the authorities of Congo-Brazzaville told Air France officials that they no longer wanted flights to and from their country to stop in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This request aims to “Do not put populations at risk of contamination”, in particular the Delta variant which represents “84% of the variants in circulation” in the DRC, the government said.

“Today, we have a plane that serves both Brazzaville and Kinshasa. The planes are loaded and we have more than 250 people per plane. If we have to change the rotation, it must necessarily have an impact on customers ”, said Olivier Jallet, director of Air France for the two Congo. “We will see how we could improve the service so as to reassure the Congolese government”, he said, adding that “Since the start of the pandemic […] there is no contamination on board aircraft ”.

Read the column: “The third wave of Covid-19 in an Africa vaccinated at 1% underlines the illusion of a Europe pulled out of the woods”

To United States, again due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant, the authorities “Maintain, at this stage, the existing restrictions” international travel, despite requests for reciprocity from the European Union in particular, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a regular press briefing.

  • In New York, vaccine or weekly screening mandatory for all civil servants

A sign urging people to keep a safe distance, on Governors Island, New York (United States), in April 2021.

The city of New York, in the United States, will require that all its officials be vaccinated against Covid-19 or that they submit themselves, every week, to a screening test, announced, on Monday, the mayor of the city, Bill de Blasio. The measure will take effect on September 13 and is expected to apply to more than 300,000 people, including police, firefighters and teachers in America’s First City.

“The goal is our recovery. The goal is to protect people ”, justified Mr. de Blasio in a press conference. Last week, the mayor had already warned that the thousands of employees of New York public hospitals would have to comply with the same rules.

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In New York, 59% of residents have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, but the pace of vaccination is slowing. Nationally, 57% of all Americans have received at least one dose, and 49% are fully immunized.

  • Greece vaccinates its adolescents, the World Bank and Covax to vaccinate the inhabitants of poor countries

People wait outside a new vaccination center in Athens in April 2021.

The Greece will extend its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 to adolescents aged 12 to 15 in August, announced the Minister of Health, Vassilis Kikilias. The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy have already approved vaccination for this age group. The decision to vaccinate minors over 12 years old was taken as Greece experiences a further rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, mainly due to the Delta variant.

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Teens “Should all go to be vaccinated, even in the middle of the summer”, urged Mr. Kikilias, noting that the percentage of people vaccinated “Hospitalized in critical condition” was “Less than 10%”. About 5.5 million people, out of an estimated 10.7 million people in Greece, have been fully vaccinated, according to official data.

A Kenyan man receives a dose of AstraZeneca vaccine, provided by the Covax system, in Nairobi in April 2021.

While vaccination appears to be the key to ending the health crisis, World Bank and the Covax System set up a new funding mechanism to help the poorest countries immunize their populations. This system should allow them to vaccinate an additional 250 million people by mid-2022, according to a joint statement released on Monday.

Disadvantaged countries, which already have vaccine projects approved by the World Bank, will be able to confirm their desire to purchase additional doses from Covax, the type of vaccine and the delivery schedule. Once the World Bank has informed the country of its plan, the latter can provide Covax with a payment guarantee.

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“Access to vaccines is the biggest challenge facing developing countries to protect their populations from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic from a health, social and economic point of view”, underlined the boss of the World Bank, David Malpass. As of July 26, the 29 poorest countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses per 100 inhabitants, where rich countries are at 95.4 doses per 100 inhabitants, according to an AFP count.

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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