Global Covid infections pass 250 million
Germany, Denmark bring coronavirus curbs back after cases soar
American protesters gather in Grand Park outside City Hall at a March for Freedom rally demonstrating against the LA City Council’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for city employees and contractors in Los Angeles, California.–AFP
More than 250 million Covid-19 infections have been recorded worldwide since the start of the pandemic, according to an AFP count compiled from official reports at 2100 GMT on Monday.
Globally, more than five million deaths from Covid-19 have been recorded so far, but the vast majority of those infected have recovered. Some, however, have continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later.
The figures are based on daily reports provided by health authorities in each country.
A significant proportion of the less severe or asymptomatic cases remain undetected despite increased screening in many countries since the start of the pandemic. In addition, testing policies differ from country to country.
Asia is the second most affected with 56,201,653 cases, followed by the United States and Canada (48,290,522 infections) and Latin America and the Caribbean (46,107,131).
Nearly 449,000 new daily infections have been recorded on average over the past seven days, against just over 400,000 in mid-October.
Denmark brings Covid curbs back
Denmark will re-introduce a health pass because of a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Monday, less than two months after scrapping controls.
The Epidemic Commission has recommended the government classify the coronavirus as a "socially threatening disease" and re-impose the pass, Frederiksen told journalists.
"The government will follow this recommendation."
Frederiksen acknowledged that the return of the pass would make life more difficult for those who were not vaccinated, but added: "That's how I think it should be."
In Denmark, with a population of 5.8 million, 85.9 percent of people over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated.
But at the end of last week, the authorities warned about the risk of hospitals being overwhelmed because of Covid-19, flu and other infectious diseases.
"The health authorities were expecting more people to be infected (by Covid) and hospitalised, but the things have gone faster than expected," Frederiksen added.
The health pass will be re-introduced in bars, restaurants and night clubs and will be obligatory for those aged 15 and above.
"You can live with the corona-pass," said Frederiksen.
"It gives you peace of mind when you go to the cinema or to a concert," she added.
Denmark was a pioneer of the health pass last spring, when the number of new cases was four times lower than it is now.
The health pass was scrapped on September 10 when the number of new cases was four times lower than it is now.
So far in Denmark 2,745 people have died of the coronavirus.
Germany eyes tougher curbs
Germany registered an incidence rate of 201.1 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said, surpassing the previous record of 197.6 reached on December 22, 2020.
The surge in cases, blamed on the nation's relatively low vaccination rate, has prompted widespread alarm in recent weeks as hospital beds fill up rapidly.
Underlining the urgency, the three parties striving to form Germany's next coalition government following September's general election presented a raft of pandemic-fighting proposals -- despite not officially being in power yet.
The Social Democrats, the Greens and the liberal FDP released draft legislation that will give Germany's 16 regional states a legal framework to tame the fourth wave of the pandemic.
The goal is "to protect as many people as possible during the autumn and winter months," said Dirk Wiese, deputy leader of the Social Democrats' parliamentary group.
The plan includes the possibility to exclude unvaccinated people from some indoor events, stricter prevention measures in the workplace, and the option of requiring PCR tests instead of rapid tests.
The incoming coalition partners also want to reintroduce free coronavirus testing, after it was dropped last month as it failed to spur enough unvaccinated people to get the jab.
The proposals will be discussed by the lower house of parliament this week and are slated to take effect from the end of November.
- Curbs on unvaccinated -
The three parties which aim to have a new government installed next month -- with Olaf Scholz replacing Angela Merkel as chancellor -- have however ruled out mandatory jabs or nationwide lockdowns.
The coronavirus vaccination rate in the EU's most populous country has stagnated at under 70 percent, despite official pleas for more citizens to get the jab.
The eastern state of Saxony, where the incidence rate is more than twice the national average at 491.3, on Monday introduced the nation's toughest restrictions yet for unvaccinated people.
Access to indoor dining and other indoor events will be limited to those who are fully vaccinated or can show proof of recovery, a system known as "2G" in Germany.
Only children as well as those who cannot receive jabs for medical reasons will be exempt.
Several other states including Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria and Hesse are also adopting tougher curbs.
Germans are also closely watching Austria, where the start of 2G rules has led to queues outside vaccination centres.