ITALY has been plunged back into lockdown as a third Covid wave sweeps across Europe.
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The new wave of cases comes amid the shambles of the EU’s vaccine rollout, which has been hampered by production delays, political infighting and public skepticism over the Astrazeneca jab.
As the UK appears on course to easing restrictions and vaccinating all adults by early June, the Europe appears to be heading in the opposite direction.
The Netherlands has joined Ireland in suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over blood-clot fears despite the World Health Organisation saying there is no link with the jab.
It comes as:
- Hairdressers open from today in Wales as lockdown lifts but people in England will have to wait four weeks
- Brits can jet off to Turkey this summer without having Covid vaccine
- Cases will soar in Autumn despite an expert has warned.
- The Netherlands is the latest country to suspend the AstraZeneca jab
Italy recorded nearly 27,000 cases and 380 deaths on Friday as hospitals struggle to cope with rising numbers.
The country’s Prime Minister has warned Italy faces a similar situation to this time last year when it was Europe’s Covid epicentre.
“More than a year after the start of the health emergency, we are unfortunately facing a new wave of infections,” said Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
“The memory of what happened last spring is vivid, and we will do everything to prevent it from happening again.”
Much of the country, including the region around Rome, is now under tougher restrictions on movements outside the home with most shops closed, along with bars and restaurants.
Officials in Paris say the region may be heading towards a new lockdown as new variants of the virus fill up intensive care units and limited vaccine supplies drag down inoculation efforts.
Special medical planes have dispatched patients from the Paris area to less-saturated regions over the weekend and high speed trains will also pressed into service later this week.
“If we have to lock down, we will do it,” the head of the national health agency, Jerome Salomon, said on BFM television Sunday.
“The situation is complex, tense and is worsening in the Paris region.”
Salomon acknowledges that a nationwide 6pm curfew wasn’t enough in some regions to prevent a spike in cases.
The French government has been relying on curfews for months – along with the long-term closures of restaurants and some other businesses – to try to avoid a costly new lockdown.
In Germany 12,800 new Covid infections were reported on Friday, a rise of over 3000 from the previous week.
The country’s infectious disease agency has acknowledged that the country was now in the grip of a third wave of Covid-19.
Intensive care doctors in Germany warned Monday that the country would need to make an “immediate return” to partial lockdown.
“From the data we currently have and with the spread of the British mutation, we would argue strongly to return immediately into a lockdown to avoid a strong third wave,” Christian Karagiannidis, director of Germany’s intensive care register, told broadcaster RBB.
The number of cases in the country have been rising for the last few weeks as some restrictions have been lifted.
Earlier this month, Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders agreed and easing of restrictions along with an “emergency brake” for a lockdown if case numbers rise above 100 per 100,000 on three consecutive days.
Similarly in Poland, 18,789 new cases and 352 new deaths were reported, the country’s highest figure since November.
The country has already has imposed tight restrictions on social gatherings.
Most schools are closed and restaurants can only serve meals for delivery though new restrictions are likely to be announced this week.