Soaring coronavirus rates in Germany are threatening plans for a rollout of the country’s famous Christmas markets, due to open in about a week’s time.
There had been considerable fanfare over municipalities’ plans to stage the markets this year after they were called off a year ago.
Hopes that the vaccine campaign – which started in Germany on 27 December last year – would have enabled markets to go ahead have been thwarted by a low uptake rate – only about 67% of Germans are fully vaccinated – and the spread of the more infectious Delta variant.
Now authorities from Bavaria in the south to Saxony and Thuringia in the east have begun announcing the cancellation of many scheduled markets, saying a rising infection rate means it would be irresponsible for them to go ahead.
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Far from being irresponsible Covid spreaders, the vast majority of students at English universities have been vaccinated at least once and would request a test if they had symptoms, according to a survey.
Students’ wellbeing has suffered this autumn, however, with a third of those surveyed reporting that their mental health had deteriorated since the start of term, the report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says.
The survey found the average life satisfaction score among students was 6.6 out of 10, significantly lower than among 16- to 29-year-olds in general, who scored 7.0, and the overall adult population in Great Britain, at 7.1.
The ONS report says mental health has worsened as the term has progressed, with 32% of students reporting that their wellbeing has deteriorated, compared with 26% in late September.
It is better than it was last May, when half of students who took part in the survey said their mental health had deteriorated. Most students at that time were studying online owing to lockdown restrictions, while this term students have returned to campuses for more face-to-face teaching.
On vaccination, the survey – which is based on experimental data drawn from responses from almost 1,000 students in England during October and November – found that 91% of respondents had been vaccinated against Covid at least once.
The proportion of students who have been double-vaccinated was 85%, up from 78% in late September. Of the 8% who said they had not been vaccinated, almost a third (32%) said they were fairly or very likely to take a vaccine if offered.
Students also showed they were willing to test for Covid: 92% said they would request a test if they developed symptoms, and 49% said they had taken a test in the previous seven days. Meanwhile, 57% said they would stay at home for 10 days if they developed symptoms.
Last year students were often accused of spreading the virus by holding parties in breach of restrictions, and some were fined and threatened with exclusion from their university studies.
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Tens of thousands of care home residents in England face losing vital support as unvaccinated carers clock off for the last time before double jabs become mandatory.
About 50,000 care home staff who have not had two doses will not be allowed to work from Thursday. Analysis by the Guardian suggests that on current staff/resident ratios without other measures to tackle the problem, the care of about 30,000 people could be affected.
Care operators and health chiefs have warned staff shortfalls could prevent thousands of people from being discharged from hospitals this winter, limiting admissions and clogging up wards. They say it will increase pressure on remaining care staff to work longer hours, despite many being already exhausted.
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Italy has clamped down on protests against the country’s Covid-19 health pass.
The protests, at times violent, have become more prolific since Italy made the pass mandatory for all workers in October.
Demonstrations will no longer be able to take place in city or town centres.
“For weeks the so-called ‘no pass’ protests have been paralysing the centres of many cities every Saturday, creating inconvenience for citizens and shop-keepers, as well as creating crowds of unvaccinated people,” said Carlo Sibilia, undersecretary at the interior minister.
Protests in the northern city of Trieste are believed to have triggered a surge in coronavirus infections.
There was also controversy earlier this month after protesters marched through the streets of the city of Novara wearing striped bibs while comparing themselves to prisoners of Nazi concentration camps.
In October, a demonstration in Rome turned violent after neo-fascist militants ransacked the headquarters of a trade union.
The so-called ‘green pass’, which shows evidence of vaccination, immunisation or a negative test, is required by Italians when entering their workplaces and for dining inside at bars or restaurants, travelling by plane or long-distance train as well as entering museums, theatres, cinemas, nightclubs and stadiums.