POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - EUROPE

Pandemic

Covid situation is deteriorating in neighbouring countries



In Belgium, several experts are once again calling for social contacts to be limited to a maximum of five people. (Photo: Shutterstock)

In Belgium, several experts are once again calling for social contacts to be limited to a maximum of five people. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Belgium, France, Germany: the new wave of infections seems to be growing and getting out of control. New measures are expected.

With the end-of-year celebrations in sight, everyone is holding their breath. But the fact is that the health situation in Belgium, France and Germany is getting worse and worse. New measures could be announced in the coming days.

Belgium

The measures taken last week (4 days of teleworking, mask wearing in enclosed spaces) to try to control the spread of the virus were the result of a vast political compromise, which seems to have been lost already.

Infection rates are indeed reaching levels never seen before. The Walloon minister of dealth, Christie Moreale, told La Libre Belgique: “We are on alert 5, which corresponds to containment. We are trying to stay on course without closing sectors, but we can see that the situation is very critical, not only in the hospitals but also with tracing, testing and postponements of hospitalisations.”

In Brussels, her counterpart Alain Maron said he was very worried, because “the models predict, for the moment, a peak in hospitalisations for mid-December, around 1,000 beds in intensive care. This is an extremely tense situation”.

A new consultation committee is scheduled for Friday.

While the provincial governors are demanding clear decisions, experts are putting maximum pressure on ministers. The closure of entire sectors is no longer a taboo. Erika Vlieghe, an infectious diseases specialist, said that “general practitioners say they can't take it anymore. The people in charge of tracing are having a difficult time doing their job. It's becoming unbearable in hospitals too, and we don't see any tendency for the figures to stabilise or decrease. On the contrary, they are skyrocketing. We have to stop taking half measures.”

In addition to the closure of sectors, the obligation to work 100% from home, the ban on indoor sports, the compulsory wearing of masks from the age of 9 and even at school, and the limitation of contact to five other people are among the measures that the health sector considers minimal.

France

A health protection council was held on Wednesday with the situation in France “deteriorating rapidly”. And this while the virus will “continue to increase in the coming days and weeks”, said government spokesman Gabriel Attal.

Specific measures have been decided and were detailed on 25 November.

There will be “no lockdown, no curfew, no early closure of shops, no limitation of movement,” said health minister Olivier Véran (LREM). But the vaccination campaign will be stepped up. From 27 November, “the booster vaccination will be open to all adults from five months after their last injection,” announced the minister. This booster dose, given “seven months after the last injection” will become compulsory from 15 January in order to benefit from the health pass. In addition, mask wearing will again be compulsory in all closed places, even those where the health pass is enforced.

Germany

The country has passed the 100,000 death mark, 100,119 to be exact but above all, the number of infections continues to rise, reaching record levels, as does the incidence rate.

Several regions have reinstated strict restrictions to stem the fourth wave of infections, the highest since the virus emerged. But Germany has only 69% of its population fully vaccinated.

For the time being, the government seems to be ruling out the idea of a national lockdown, and is banking on the generalisation of health passes for transport and access restrictions for non-vaccinated people, for example to cultural sites, and vaccination.

The risk of saturation of several hospitals could, however, accelerate the adoption of stricter measures, said people close to the future Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.