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Europe's double trouble: Rising Covid-19 infections, resistance to curbs

 TIMESOFINDIA.COM / Updated: Nov 22, 2021, 19:03 IST

NEW DELHI: Covid-19 is causing fresh worries in Europe, for more reasons than one.

The continent is grappling with a fresh bout of infections. The World Health Organization said last week that Europe was the hot spot of the pandemic right now, the only region in which Covid-19 deaths were rising.


All this, despite countries in the region having some of the highest rates of vaccination worldwide.

However efforts to reimpose curbs are being met with resistance, sometimes spiralling into violence and arson. Anti-vaccination marches have also been taken out in several cities.


Among the countries badly hit in the latest wave of Covid infections are France, Germany, Austria and Russia.


The seven-day average of new cases reached 17,153 on Saturday, up from 9,458 a week earlier, an increase of 81 per cent.

"The fifth wave is starting at lightning speed," a French government spokesman told media.

On Saturday, hospitals reported a total of 7,974 Covid patients in their care, with 1,333 of them in intensive treatment. This compares to 6,500 and 1,000, respectively, a month earlier.

However the spike in infections has not led to the massive influx of patients into hospitals, like in the waves in April-May.


Germany's seven-day coronavirus incidence rate rose to the highest level since the pandemic began for the 14th consecutive day on Sunday, reaching 372.7 nationwide. In some regions, it has even surpassed 1,000. The record in the third wave of the pandemic last December was 197.6.

Overall, there have been 5.35 million infections reported in Germany so far; the overall death toll stands at 99,062.
Some politicians say that federal and state governments should introduce compulsory vaccinations soon as other efforts to push up Germany's low inoculation rate of just 68% have failed.


Austria went into a nationwide lockdown early Monday to combat soaring coronavirus infections. The measures are expected to last for a maximum of 20 days but will be reevaluated after 10.

Austria hopes to lift the measures on Dec. 13 but may keep a further lockdown on the unvaccinated.

On Saturday, Austria reported 15,297 new infections, after a week in which daily cases topped 10,000.

Just under 66% of Austria's 8.9 million people are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.


The country reported 35,681 new confirmed cases, down since early November when the daily numbers topped 41,000, the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

But death toll was still hovering near all-time highs on Monday. The state coronavirus task force reported 1,241 Covid-19 deaths, down from the pandemic's record of 1,254 recorded last week.

The surge in deaths comes amid low vaccination rates and lax public attitudes toward taking precautions. About 40% of Russia's nearly 146 million people have been fully vaccinated.


Restrictions meet resistance
Despite surge in infections, efforts to reimpose curbs to contain the spread are being vehemently opposed, unlike on earlier occasions. Vaccine opposition, among others, is seen as a reason behind some of these protests.

In Brussels, violence broke out at a protest against anti-Covid measures which police said was attended by 35,000 people. The march largely focused on a ban on the unvaccinated from venues such as restaurants and bars.

Protesters set fire to wood pallets, and social media images showed them attacking police vans with street signs.


Protests also erupted in several Dutch cities on Sunday.

Demonstrators set off fireworks and vandalised property in the northern cities of Groningen and Leeuwarden, in Enschede to the east and Tilburg to the south.

On Friday night, there was unrest in Rotterdam and last night in The Hague.

The Netherlands went back into partial lockdown on November 13, and is considering allowing bars and cafes to ban people who have not been vaccinated.


In Austria, around 6,000 people gathered in the city of Linz, a day after 40,000 marched in Vienna over the partial lockdown.

Interior minister Karl Nehammer said that the country's anti-coronavirus protest scene is radicalizing.

An "extremely diverse group of people" took part in the anti-vaccination protests, Nehammer said, adding that included concerned citizens but also right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis.