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Countries across Europe are still battling the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s the latest from the continent.

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The holidays: Germany’s top leaders have agreed on a draft proposal to outline Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, according to CNN’s affiliate NTV. On Wednesday, German chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with the state premiers to agree on the framework. The draft proposal says that:

  • Up to 10 people can celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve together, with children up to the age of 14 excluded from that count
  • The time frame for these rules would be valid from December 23 – January 1
  • Fireworks are expected to be banned in popular public areas to avoid large crowds. 

ICUs are packed: Patients being treated in intensive care unit facilities reached an all-time high, according to data released on Monday by the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine.

  • 3,742 Covid-19 patients are being treated in ICU facilities
  • Around 57% of patients in ICU’s need ventilation
  • 21,333 intensive-care capacity facilities in the country are currently occupied for other diseases
  • 6,616 ICU beds are still vacant

Cases and deaths: Germany has registered 13,554 new daily coronavirus infections within 24 hours — 865 less than Tuesday a week ago — according to data from the country’s infectious disease agency, the Robert Koch Institute.

The reported death toll rose by 249 to 14,361. Germany’s total coronavirus case count now stands at 942,687. Its positivity rate stands at 9.6%, compared to 9.2% last week.

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Cases are falling: The number of new Covid-19 cases in Belgium continues to fall, but it is declining more slowly than in the first half of November.

Over the past week, an average of 3,672 new daily cases were registered in the country, a decrease of 28%, or a halving of the number of infections every 15 days.

“This makes this decline less pronounced than in the first half of November, when it recorded a fall of almost 50% on a weekly basis or a halving every 7 days,” Steven van Gucht, head virologist of the Belgian health authority, Sciensano said. He added that if that trend continues they expect an average of 500 new cases a day by the end of the year.

Belgium has registered 559,902 Covid-19 cases so far, with a total of 15,755 deaths.

Lockdown: Strict lockdown measures were put in place on November 2 and are due to last until December 13, with a review this coming Friday. Local media are reporting the strict measures may well be kept in place for the Christmas holidays to avoid another wave.

Belgium has registered 559,902 Covid-19 cases so far, with a total of 15,755 deaths.


Vaccines: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says vaccine distribution will start at the end of January. He said that for now, the vaccine will be voluntary and will not be administered on a mandatory basis.

Conte said he “will definitely” get the vaccine because it will be “absolutely safe,” adding that he would not however, be among the first to be vaccinated since the “fragile and most exposed to danger need to have it first.”

Christmas: Hopes of skiing over the Christmas holiday are fading, after Conte stressed that allowing “indiscriminate holidays on the snow” would cause a third wave.

During an interview on Italian TV Monday evening, Conte said coordination between EU countries aimed to limit activities ‘connected to skiing’ was needed because if Italy bans skiing, but the neighboring countries allow it, then Italian tourists returning home from hitting the slopes abroad “would risk bringing back the contagion to Italy.” 

At the moment, there is no specific government decree banning skiing.

United Kingdom

Exiting lockdown: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a plan to return to a three-tiered system when England ends lockdown on December 2. Under the previous tier system, regions were previously classified as: Tier 1 “medium” alert level, Tier 2 “high” alert level and Tier 3 “very high” alert level.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned his strategy is “full of risks” and “threatens to undo the progress and undermine the difficult sacrifices” the public have already made.

Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA, said that it’s “extremely concerning that outdoor events with crowds of up to 4,000 people will be allowed to go ahead and groups of 1,000 will be allowed to congregate indoors as many of the new proposals are more relaxed than previous measures.”

He added that the government should not “repeat the same mistakes” of the “failings of the first three-tiered system” which led to another national lockdown.

Last week, the BMA urged strict new measures when England lockdown ends to prevent a “collapse” of healthcare services this winter. Among the measures the BMA wants to see being imposed is no travel between or across different local lockdown tiers. 

Ministers will announce and vote on which areas will be placed into which tier on Thursday.

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