[cm_ad_changer group_id="1"]

Alberta, Ontario making more people eligible for COVID-19 booster doses

The latest:

  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: COVID@cbc.ca.

In Europe, unvaccinated people across Germany will soon be excluded from nonessential stores, restaurants and sports and cultural venues, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Thursday, and parliament will consider a general vaccine mandate as part of efforts to curb coronavirus infections.

Merkel announced the measures after a meeting with federal and state leaders, as the nation again topped 70,000 newly confirmed cases in a 24-hour period. She said the steps were necessary to address concerns that hospitals could become overloaded with patients suffering from COVID-19 infections, which are much more likely to be serious in people who have not been vaccinated.

“The situation in our country is serious,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, calling the measures an “act of national solidarity.”

She said officials also agreed on a nationwide requirement to wear masks, new limits on private meetings and a goal of 30 million vaccinations by the end of the year — an effort that will be boosted by allowing dentists and pharmacists to administer the shots.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her designated successor Olaf Scholz wear masks in Berlin on Thursday. (John MacDougall/Reuters)

Merkel said authorities plan to require staff in hospitals and nursing homes to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and she backed the even more contentious idea of imposing a general vaccine mandate. She said parliament would debate the proposal with input from the country’s national ethics committee. The mandate could take effect as early as February.

“In light of this situation, I really think it’s necessary to pass such a mandate,” Merkel said, adding that she would have voted for it if she were still a lawmaker.

Just months ago, Merkel suggested that a vaccine mandate would not be effective, but she did not rule out the possibility.

About 68.7 per cent of the population in Germany is fully vaccinated, far below the government’s minimum goal of 75 per cent.

In Germany, unvaccinated people will still be able to meet in private settings, but only in very limited numbers. A household with an unvaccinated person over 14 can meet with only two people from another household; the limit does not apply when everyone is vaccinated.

A police officer is administered a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot in Hilden, Germany, on Thursday. (David Young/dpa via AP)

There have been large protests against pandemic measures in the past in Germany, and the proposed vaccine mandate is likely to be opposed by some, though opinion polls show most Germans are in favour.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is expected to be elected chancellor by a center-left coalition next week, has also backed a general vaccine mandate, but he favors letting lawmakers vote on the issue according to their personal conscience rather than party lines.

“If we had a higher vaccination rate, we wouldn’t be discussing this now,” he said.

The rise in COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks and the arrival of the new omicron variant have prompted warnings from scientists and doctors that the country’s medical services could become overstretched in the coming weeks unless drastic action is taken. Some hospitals in the south and east of the country have already transferred patients to other parts of Germany because of a shortage of intensive care beds.

Intensive care nurses treat a patient severely ill with COVID-19 in Halle (Saale), Germany, on Nov. 22. (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP)

Germany’s disease control agency reported 73,209 newly confirmed cases Thursday. The Robert Koch Institute also reported 388 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 102,178.

To reduce the pressure on hospitals, the sale of fireworks traditionally set off during New Year’s in Germany will be banned. Each year, hospitals treat hundreds of people with serious injuries because of mishandled fireworks.

The new measures — which are considered a nationwide minimum — will take effect once the 16 states incorporate them into existing rules, likely in the coming days.

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Omicron variant renews uncertainty for travellers: 

Omicron variant renews uncertainty for travellers

20 hours ago

The uncertainty around the omicron variant and new COVID-19 testing and isolation requirements has some wondering if international travel is about to be upended again. 2:04

  • Booster appointments for Alberta residents over 60 now open.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations, ICU airlifts cost Saskatchewan at least $100M.
  • N.B. urges residents hold off on holiday travel as province sees 95 new cases.
  • N.S. reports 40 new cases as province finds new cluster in northern zone.

What’s happening around the world

As of Thursday, more than 263.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.2 million.

PHOTOS | Hong Kong to launch mobile app ahead of China border opening: 

In Asia, Hong Kong authorities will launch a new “health code” mobile phone app next week that travellers to mainland China would be required to use. Unlike China’s app, Hong Kong’s will not track a user’s movement, the government said. Only Hong Kong residents who plan to cross the border are required to use the app, which will be available starting Dec. 10.

In Africa, the omicron variant has been detected in Zimbabwe, according to Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga who is also the health minister, making it the fifth African country to report the variant’s presence after Botswana, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria.

In the Americas, the U.S. is making it mandatory by early next week for Canadians and other foreign visitors who arrive by air to get a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of their departure, regardless of their vaccination status, as part of a pandemic battle plan for the winter months.

View original article here Source

[cm_ad_changer group_id="2"]