Not vaccinated? Here's what you risk around the world

Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Greece, Poland... Countries are tightening their restrictions to fight against the resurgence of COVID-19. Their target: the non-vaccinated. Filling up hospitals, they also display the most serious symptoms of COVID-19. Where in the world is it the hardest to not be vaccinated ? Pressure on unvaccinated workers and health workers With an average of more than 30,000 new cases per day, Germany is steadily tightening its restrictions against COVID-19, especially for the unvaccinated. Since November 1, unvaccinated employees who are forced to self-isolate or who are unable to work because of the COVID-19 measures no longer receive salary compensation. Klaus Holetschek, Bavaria's Minister of Health, is adamant: "The non-vaccinated must be responsible. Bavaria is one of the strictest states in terms of the fight against COVID-19. Expensive PCR tests for the non-vaccinated, activities restricted to them... Jens Spahn, Federal Health Minister, agrees: "It's not about pressure... but about fairness towards the vaccinated. Why should others pay for someone who decides not to be vaccinated? The issue is also stirring debate in Greece. Since November 6, unvaccinated employees have been required to submit two negative Covid-19 tests per week in order to work, compared to the one test required until then. The tests are at their expense (about 60€ per test). Similarly, any non-vaccinated person must now show a negative PCR test before going to administrative services, most shops, banks, restaurants, cafés... Any institution not respecting this risks a €5,000 fine and 15 days of administrative closure. For the non-vaccinated, the penalty is already there. But nothing yet regarding places of worship. The non-vaccinated are mostly the elderly. Other states, such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe, have banned the non-vaccinated from churches. In Norway, unvaccinated healthcare workers are being targeted: they must now be tested twice a week and wear a mask. Hungary is stricter: “Companies can now require staff to be vaccinated," announced Gergely Gulyas, head of the cabinet of the sovereignist Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Those who are reluctant will have to take an unpaid leave and may be dismissed after a year. In Latvia, the vaccinated are separated from the non-vaccinated. For the latter, they are obliged to do their basic shopping in certain authorised shops only. Lockdown and restrictions for the non-vaccinated Lockdown is back. The Netherlands, Austria, Russia and China all under partial lockdown. Austria has been putting the non-vaccinated under lockdown since November 15. Initially for 10 days, the measure could be extended. The pressure tactics are bearing fruit, though. Vaccination centers are filling up again. The lockdown is even longer in the Netherlands: three weeks, with curfew and closure of essential and non-essential areas (8pm for the former, 6pm for the latter). But after these three weeks, only the vaccinated will have access to restaurants and leisure outlets. The non-vaccinated, even with a negative PCR test, will not have access. Russia has also introduced a compulsory lockdown of non-vaccinated people over 60 years old since October 25 (until February 25, 2022). Faced with the health catastrophe, the country is trying to react and is multiplying the anti-COVID-19 measures. China is the most strict country in the fight against COVID-19. In the country of zero tolerance, lockdown is required at the slightest suspicion of a cluster. The latest case: 1,500 students locked in their dormitories following an outbreak in the city of Dalian, in the northeast of the country. Get paid to get vaccinated In the United States, American companies are supporting the vaccination campaign in their own way: rewarding the employee and preserving the company's competitiveness (collective immunity, reduced risk of sick leave). A win-win offer that appeals to employees. At Aldi, they offer 4 hours of salary, two hours per dose. Lidl prefers to focus on the financial advantage: $200 for each employee who agrees to be vaccinated. For American Airlines, it's 1 extra day of paid vacation and $50 in rewards points. McDonald's also opts for 4 hours of paid time off. Various states have undertaken similar actions: free vouchers, discount coupons from partner merchants... Initiatives are flourishing in other countries around the world. In the north of France, a shopping center took advantage of the installation of a vaccination center on its premises to offer discount coupons from partner stores. The same operation was carried out in French Guiana, where a supermarket distributed €5 vouchers. However, these initiatives are not always welcomed.  Skeptics and anti-vaccine activists see them as an instrumentalization and call for a boycott. However, their voices do not carry much weight when compared to the concrete benefits of a vaccination combined with a monetary bonus. In Japan, restaurant owners' initiatives are welcomed: free vouchers or a free product to encourage vaccination. Japan, criticized by the international community for its delay in vaccination, is now a model. In just four months, it has caught up with, and then surpassed, the major countries, which had started their vaccination campaigns several months before it. As of November 16, 76.1% of the population is fully vaccinated and 79% has received at least one dose.  All these incentives seem to be bearing fruit: the non-vaccinated are rushing to vaccination centers. Some of them claim that they are doing the right thing and that they had formerly been afraid to be vaccinated. Others speak of "policing", of stress increased by all these restrictions that prevent the non-vaccinated from living. What about freedom? Last Sunday on the set of BFMTV, the French Minister of the Economy Bruno Lemaire sees it as a selfish drift and takes up the famous quote: "My freedom stops where the other's begins." And the minister appealed, like his German counterparts, to the responsibility of all to finally defeat COVID-19. https://www.expat.com/en/expat-mag/6269-not-vaccinated-against-covid-19-what-are-the-risks-in-your-expat-country.html
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Could the booster dose become essential for travelling?

With the new pandemic wave worldwide, vaccination against Covid-19 remains a major concern. The booster dose adds to the ongoing debate. States are stepping up their vaccination campaign, with some considering making the booster dose a mandatory entry condition. Others prefer to reserve this third dose for vulnerable categories of people. The end of year season kickstarts the celebrations and increased travel period. So what should travellers and expatriates expect? Israel, the pioneer in vaccination It's uncertain whether the world is ready to follow the Israeli model. Still, the country was one of the first to embark on a massive vaccination campaign. The campaign is ongoing, and, as of last summer, many elderly and frail people have already been considered for the booster dose, which will then be extended to healthy people. The eligibility threshold dropped as the Delta, and the latest Omicron variants threaten the country's balance. Now, all children over 12 can receive a third dose of the vaccine, considering the current sanitary situation. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett considers this booster dose a "privilege that other countries do not have." As such, the Israeli green pass is only valid for six months. After that period, the booster dose is possible. The booster dose is also required for any foreigner travelling to Israel. The WHO's opinion on the booster dose Has the booster done become essential for international travel? In France, the Scientific Council and the Vaccine Strategy Orientation Council (COSV) seem to be taking the lead. From December 15, the health pass will be conditional on obtaining the 3rd dose for those over 65. Besides, France is opening the booster vaccination for those over 50 as of December 1, but this should not affect the health pass, at least for now. Ultimately, the aim is to ensure that the entire adult population has got their booster dose for their health pass to be considered valid. Travellers to France would therefore also be affected. However, the WHO believes that the booster dose for non-priority people can wait until January 2022. The Organization still recommends triple vaccination for fragile people, the immunocompromised, and those who have received Chinese vaccines (which are less resistant to the new variants).For Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, it is "a scandal" that must be stopped immediately. He believes that it does not make sense to give booster doses to healthy adults or children when health workers, the elderly, and other high-risk populations are still waiting for their first dose of vaccine in other parts of the world. For the WHO, it is clearly impossible to eradicate Covid-19 with such vaccine inequality. Barely 5% of the population is vaccinated in Africa, and contamination rates are probably underestimated. Figures look a little more promising in South America, where 20-30% of the populations are vaccinated), but it's still far below the rates seen in states with access to vaccines. Could the booster dose become a general travel requirement? It's still unsure whether all States will backtrack and follow all WHO recommendations. In Croatia, the vaccination passport has become perishable since last August - precisely nine months after the last injection. The same applies to Austria. Switzerland, on the other hand, extends the validity of the vaccination passport to 1 year. Israel remains one of the most restrictive countries with 6 months of validity.Triple vaccination travel has not become the norm yet. Still, the long-term validity of the health pass seems to depend on the booster dose in many countries. Faced with the health emergency, Germany is making urgent appeals to the unvaccinated people and accelerating the booster dose campaign. For the German Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, taking the booster dose after six months must become the rule and not the exception. On Monday, November 22, the minister made an alarming statement: "It is likely that by the end of winter, almost everyone in Germany will have been vaccinated, will have recovered or will be dead". While some say this cynically, the current situation looks dramatic in Germany. The government made it clear that the country's future is at stake.The United Kingdom is considering similar arrangements while reassuring expatriates that they will be able to come and spend the Christmas holidays in the territory even without the booster dose. The United States and Canada have not made the booster dose mandatory either. While it is clearly recommended for all adults, there is no obligation yet for it on travellers to get it done.The aim of most States today is to save Christmas. Caught between the resurgence of two highly contagious variants, Delta and Omicron, there is a real threat to economies. The current crisis makes it hard to impose the booster dose on people. Moreover, the deadlines are too short, and the Christmas period is too important to miss out. The new pandemic wave has already shattered the too many travel and immigration plans that have been delayed on and on. While the WHO urges states to follow its immunization policy plan, there are reasons to believe that the booster dose will soon become the rule. https://www.expat.com/en/expat-mag/6311-covid-vaccination-which-countries-require-the-booster-dose-for-travellers.html
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New restrictions around the world to contain the new Covid-19 surge

Named "Omicron" by the World Health Organization (WHO), the new Covid-19 variant revives the traumas of 2020. According to experts, the 5th wave of the Delta variant, which is likely to be more severe and to last longer than the previous ones, could be even more tragic with Omicron.   The European Union, the United States, Japan, Israel, Singapore, the Philippines, the United Kingdom have already closed their borders with southern Africa and are currently accelerating their vaccination campaign. What is this end of the year going to look like with all the restrictions in place? South Africa strengthens its vaccination campaign On Sunday, November 28, the WHO insisted that countries should reopen the links with southern Africa. The organization believes that countries should not give in to panic-provoked selfishness and take a scientific approach based on risk assessment. South Africa considers itself "sanctioned" for having reported the presence of this new variant to the WHO. This comes as a blow for the country, where tourism, one of its economic pillars, has just picked up. As countries around the world announced border closures, the Johannesburg stock exchange fell by almost 2%. The country, which is at alert level 1, is increasing efforts for vaccination from the age of 12.According to the local authorities, 35.6% of the population is fully vaccinated; 41% received at least one dose. The Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines has announced the beginning of the booster dose campaign with the elderly and the immunocompromised. A curfew is imposed from midnight to 4 a.m. (sale of alcohol prohibited during these hours), wearing a mask is compulsory in public spaces and as soon as you come into contact with any person who is not a family member. Regarding large events, indoor gatherings of more than 750 people are prohibited (no more than 50 if space is limited); outdoors, the limit is 2,000 people. In short, the smaller the space will be, the smaller the number of people, especially if it is a closed space. Large group end-of-year celebrations are to be avoided. Funerals should not accommodate more than 100 people. Israel includes children in vaccination campaign The pioneer in vaccination against Covid-19 is also the first to kickstart the booster dose campaign and the vaccination of children. To date, 44.1% of the population have already received their booster dose. But the wave of Covid now mainly affects children. Since November 22, a special vaccination campaign has been launched, targeting children aged 5 to 11. The Ministry of Health warned that measures against the pandemic could get tighter if the number of daily infections rises to more than 1,000 (around 600 to date). These restrictions would include a limit on gatherings, even for vaccinated people. The ministry points out that assembly areas are the most at risk of infection. Restrictions in Latin America In Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela, vaccination against Covid-19 is open to children from the age of 3. Nicaragua is lowering the minimum vaccination age to 2 years. The major problem, however, is the effectiveness of vaccines. For example, studies show adverse effects of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine in 12-17-year-olds, but not in 3-5-year-olds. The authorities, therefore, reserve it for young children. Latin American countries are also stepping up their anti-Covid measures such as the compulsory wearing of masks, social distancing, and PCR tests even for vaccinated people. Chile, which recently reopened its borders (November 1), is proceeding differently. From December 1, only people who have received their booster dose do not require PCR testing. But for now, quarantine remains mandatory. Colombia, Cuba (Havana) and Peru have introduced a curfew. In Havana, along with the curfew, non-essential businesses such as bars, restaurants, nightclubs remain closed. In Peru, the wearing of masks is compulsory. Indoors (shopping malls, supermarkets, airports, administrations etc.), the wearing of double masks is recommended. Japan: under control With 77% of its population fully vaccinated and less than 100 new daily cases on average, Japan is recovering gradually. The state of emergency has been lifted since October. But the government calls for vigilance. Given the current situation in Europe and the new Omicron variant, a general reopening of borders is not considered for now. Wearing a mask remains compulsory. Small gatherings are permitted except in crowded areas. Companies are encouraged to allow remote working and flexi-time to avoid the rush hours in transports. Restaurants and other leisure venues are expected to do the same. Concerned about the revival of the country's socio-economic activities, Keidanren - Japanese Federation of Employers - still urges the government to open the borders, like South Korea. China's choice to remain closed Officially, everything looks fine in China. Xi Jinping's “zero Covid” policy is paying faced with Europe's 5th devastating wave. According to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), this proves that the European and Western strategies have failed. But not everyone same the same views on Chinese policy. Many restrictions have nothing to do with the peaks observed in Europe: international border closure, compulsory negative PCR test of less than 48 hours to travel to certain regions, entry ban in Beijing for any person from an area where a case of Covid has been detected in the previous two weeks, trains stopped or cancelled, entire cities locked down, quarantines, site closures after a single case of Covid detected. Meanwhile, the population can only voice out their feelings online. However, everyone agrees that China would be unable to survive a situation like that in Europe. So the country will remain closed until the Winter Olympics of 2022. More restrictions in Austria Locking down the unvaccinated population wasn't enough in Australia. Since Monday, November 22, the country has been totally locked down for the fourth time, until December 13. According to Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, this was inevitable, considering the new Omicron variant. In practice: no travel pass is required (as previously), non-essential businesses (including restaurants and hotels) remain closed, remote work is strongly recommended, schools are open, but parents are encouraged to keep their children at home. In short, people are only allowed to go out to get some fresh air, go to work, or do essential shopping. For the chancellor, the poor vaccination figures required more drastic measures. With barely 66.7% of inhabitants fully vaccinated as of November 27, Austria is struggling against the upsurge in infections. "A steady rise in the vaccination rate is the only way out of this circle," said Schallenberg at a press conference in Tyrol. The government's objective is to save Christmas. Immunization emergency in Senegal The country is determined to avoid similar scenarios to those of the previous waves. According to Professor Souleyemane Mboup last July, there was a general relaxation, a sort of fatigue. Most people respected the restrictions. But the relaxation came at the end of the second wave. He believes that it is difficult to combine economic emergency and Covid restrictions. This is the main challenge for the country since it reopened its borders to international tourism last October. Wearing a mask is compulsory in public and private spaces: open or covered markets, shops, banks, public services, transportation (including taxis), etc. In restaurants, sports, religious, cultural and leisure spaces that are open, social distancing is mandatory, along with the wearing of masks. Anyone caught violating these laws risks a fine and even imprisonment. Large events are also authorized, up to a limit of 500 participants. With barely 5.5% of its population fully vaccinated as of November 24 and an Omicron variant threatening the world, Senegalese is aware that the fight against Covid-19 requires strengthening barrier gestures and speeding up the vaccination campaign provided the country gets enough vaccines through international agreements. Curfew in Belgium On November 17, the Belgian authorities reintroduced restrictions including social distancing, wearing a mask from 10 years old (compulsory from 12 years old), generalization of the Covid Safe Ticket + (equivalent to the health pass), remote work as soon as possible: 4 days a week until December 13 (then 3 days a week), the booster dose for all in 2022, etc. The occurrence of the Omicron variant and the discovery of a case in Belgium are game-changers. On November 26, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced the closure of nightclubs and a curfew from 11 p.m. for restaurants and Christmas markets. There is no official limit regarding family and friends get-togethers, but the government appeals to the population to limit their contacts.Are Delta and Omicron going to sabotage the holiday season? According to the former director of the Institut Pasteur, Professor Christian Bréchot, virologist, there are hopes for a quiet Christmas, but the risk is omnipresent. Professor Tulio de Oliveira, director of the Epidemic Response Center and innovation, especially notes the lack of international solidarity. In a tweet, he mentions that: "The world should support South Africa and Africa instead of discriminating or isolating them." The WHO has made a similar appeal to other countries. The organization believes that the pandemic will only be contained when all states have equivalent access to vaccines. https://www.expat.com/en/expat-mag/6297-what-the-year-end-period-looks-like-with-a-new-wave-and-restrictions.html
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