The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Wednesday that the burden of national health systems in Europe would be “too high” from covid disease in December if governments did not step up prevention efforts.
ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said in a statement that European governments need to speed up their vaccination rates, manage booster shots and reintroduce restrictions. “All three of those things need to be done now,” he said. “It’s a choice and not a choice.”
According to ECDC data, 66 percent of the total EU population is fully vaccinated. This “can not quickly reduce the gap between a large vaccine and provide enough space for the virus to spread,” Ms. Ammon said.
Recommended restrictions include wearing a mask, working from home, keeping a safe distance, and minimizing social contact. Lockdown is like an “emergency break,” Ms Amman said, “to reduce the number too much in the short term.”
When asked if the seasonal celebrations should be canceled, Ms. Ammon replied: “We have a little more time until Christmas. But if the situation is not right, it means that these measures should be taken at Christmas as well.”
On Wednesday, Italy announced new restrictions on those not vaccinated, preventing them from eating indoors in restaurants and bars; Attending concerts, sporting events and public ceremonies; And entering nightclubs.
The ECDC also recommended that booster doses be “considered” for all adults, with priority given to those over 40 years of age. On Tuesday, Italy allowed vaccinated people to receive a booster shot five months after the second shot of their initial vaccination. On Wednesday, Portugal’s health secretary said the country would provide booster shots to a quarter of its population by the end of January, Reuters reported.
Europe has seen a sharp spike in the number of new infections, hospital admissions and deaths in recent weeks, prompting governments to impose new restrictions, including the first lockout in Western Europe since the vaccines became available.
Over the weekend, tens of thousands of Europeans across the continent protested, sometimes violently, against vaccine orders and new regulations, and on Wednesday, more than 1,000 people protested in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, the Associated Press reported.