The Latest: Albania imposes new pandemic restrictions
TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s health authorities reinstalled new tough restrictive measures and warned of a possible obligatory vaccine shot for some categories in their effort to prevent a further spread of the new Delta virus variant.
Health minister Ogerta Manastirliu said that “soon we shall start the application to passing over to a new stage of the vaccination campaign, making obligatory the vaccines for some categories on behalf of the right of the other people not to get infected.”
Albania has noted a significant rise of the daily cases this month to more than 900 from about 100 times less a month ago.
An experts’ committee extended the overnight curfew time by one hour to 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. (2100-0400 GMT). Face masks are obligatory in closed areas. But both rules on the curfew and holding face masks existed during the summer season but authorities did not impose a tough control on that.
Penalties will be 3,000-5,000 leks ($28-48) for the individuals and 100,000-700,000 leks ($954-6,682) for businesses.
August and September have been open months for vaccines for everyone over 18 years old.
There were two deaths and 768 new cases on Sunday and about half of Albania’s 2.8 million population has had at least one shot of the vaccine.
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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
SOFIA, Bulgaria — A Bulgarian health official said Monday that the government should consider implementing “stringent” anti-coronavirus measures amid a surge of infections in the Balkan nation.
In early July, Bulgaria — which has the lowest anti-COVID-19 vaccine rate in the European Union at 18% — was recording just a few dozen coronavirus infections per day, but over the last week has registered between 1,500 to 2,000 infections per day.
Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev on Monday told local television channel BTV that he will recommend to the health ministry stricter measures against COVID-19 “which should apply to the whole country.”
“A new tightening of measures is inevitable where the incidence is high,” Kunchev said. “It is imperative to observe 50% capacity in establishments. A ban on mass events such as concerts and festivals may be imposed.”
Last week, Bulgarian authorities extended the emergency epidemic situation for three months to help curb the infections surge. So far, the country of around 7 million has registered more than 450,000 COVID-19 infections and 18,731 people have died.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government says its financial support packages to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic will end on Oct. 1.
The government announced Monday that with the economy back on track, lockdown measures largely over and unemployment low, “Continuing the support would stand in the way of the economic recovery.”
The government has spent some 80 billion euros ($94 billion) since March last year propping up business ranging from individual entrepreneurs to national flag carrier KLM. It says the support helped limit bankruptcies and unemployment.
The Dutch economy is forecast to grow 3.8% this year and 3.2% in 2022. A number of targeted support measures aimed at education programs and night clubs will remain in the final quarter of the year.
PARIS — France said it will provide 10 additional million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to African countries over the next three months.
France and the African Union announced in a statement on Monday a “new partnership” allowing Paris to deliver some additional AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.
The African Union’s Vaccine Acquisition Trust will be in charge of distributing the doses, in coordination with the global COVAX program, a U.N.-backed effort to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have fair access to the shots.
The African Union’s initiative so far was able to buy enough doses to vaccinate 400 million people, or one third of the African population, by Sept. 2022, at a cost of $3 billion, the statement said.
France promised to share at least 60 million doses before the end of the year with poorest countries. It was the first rich country to donate COVID-19 vaccines via COVAX in April when it gave more than 100,000 doses to Mauritania
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway joined neighboring Denmark in offering people with severe weakened immune systems a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The government said Monday that these people have an increased risk of becoming seriously ill from covid-19, and the vaccine has a lower effect on them than on healthy people.
The government estimates the patient groups amount to up to 200,000 people, including patients with immune deficiency diseases, organ transplants, cancer patients with ongoing or recently terminated cancer treatment, among others.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish Health Authorities recommended Monday that people with severe immune deficiency get a third dose of coronavirus vaccine.
The Danish Medicines Agency said that some people “may have insufficient effect of vaccination against COVID-19, just as they may have reduced effect of other vaccines.”
The government agency said it was a recommendation as to which groups should be offered revaccination with a third dose COVID-19 vaccine on the basis of severely weakened immune systems.
As of Sept. 10, Denmark will no longer consider COVID-19 as “a socially critical disease” and phase out the digital pass that required to enter restaurants, among other places, because of the large number of vaccination.
More than 80% of all people in Scandinavian the country over the age of 12 have been vaccinated twice, and Denmark has a target of reaching 90% by Oct. 1.
BERLIN — Amid slowing demand for the shot, authorities in Berlin offered a special train service Monday for anyone interested in getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The service operated on a circular commuter line that runs around the center of the German capital for two hours.
Officials invited anyone aged 18 or older to step aboard and receive a dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Health authorities are trying to make it easier for people to get the shot, as the pace of vaccination has declined noticeably in recent months. Slightly more than 60% of the German population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while infection rates are rising strongly again.
The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Germany has more than doubled over the past two weeks from almost 5.2 new cases per 100,000 people on Aug. 15 to nearly 11 on Aug. 29.
MILAN — New virus restrictions were in effect Monday in the southern region of Sicily, the first region in Italy to have its status shifted since a summertime loosening.
Sicily has been reporting more than 1,000 new cases of virus every day since the middle of August, and has exceeded the threshold for number of hospital and intensive care beds occupied.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said shifting Sicily to a yellow zone from a white zone “is the confirmation that the virus has not yet been defeated, and that the priority is to continue to invest in the vaccine campaign and on prudent and correct behaviors by each of us.”
The new restrictions come as Italians begin to wind down summer holidays, with Sicily as a popular destination.
People in Sicily are now required to wear masks outdoors and seating in restaurants is limited to four people at a table, even outdoors.
There are no limits on movements and no curfews, as during yellow zones in previous waves.
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian health officials have begun vaccinating high school students between ages 16 to 18 in the occupied West Bank with a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Gaza health authorities are expected begin vaccinating the same age range later this week as part of an expected two-week blitz of all 255,000 secondary school students in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Health Ministry says at least 843,500 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have received a single dose of the vaccine, and more than 452,400 people have received two doses. New infections have risen sharply in the West Bank following the emergence of the highly infectious delta variant.
Last week, Palestinian health officials in Gaza and the West Bank received 500,000 doses of Moderna vaccine donated by the United States through COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing initiative.
But the territories remain far behind neighboring Israel. Less than half the population of the West Bank has received the first dose of coronavirus vaccine while in Gaza the figure is around 15%.
Israel, which launched one of the most successful vaccine campaigns, has faced international criticism for being slow to provide the Palestinians with vaccines. It says that previous diplomatic agreements mean that Israel is not responsible for vaccinating the Palestinians.
PARIS — Some 2 million French workers in restaurants and other service jobs must now show a health pass to go to work, as part of government virus-fighting efforts.
The public is already required to show the pass to go to French restaurants, tourist sites and many other public venues.
Starting Monday, all staff members must also show the pass, which requires proof of vaccination, a fresh negative virus test or recovery from COVID-19. Those who don’t risk suspension or other punishment, and businesses that don’t comply face potential fines.
Nearly 72% of French people have had at least one virus dose and more than 64% are fully vaccinated. A small but vocal minority of people who oppose vaccinations or the health pass system have held weekly protests around the country since July.
France recorded the second-highest number of infections in Europe over the past month, but its summer spike in cases has started to subside since the government imposed stricter vaccination and other virus rules. The country has reported more than 114,000 virus-related deaths.