WHO experts on Thursday criticized the sluggish pace of Europe’s vaccine rollout and said a surge in coronavirus infections was “worrying.” The organization also warned that the virus’ rapid spread at present could increase the risk of new, concerning variants developing in the region. The high number of cases across the region has increased fears that a new, more vaccine-resistant variant might emerge.
A plume of Sahara dust that has blanketed parts of southern and central Europe in recent days caused a short, sharp spike in air pollution across the region, researchers said Tuesday. The cloud of fine sand blown northward from Algeria tinted skies red and mixed with fresh snowfall in the Alps and Pyrenees, leaving slopes looking orange.
Europe launched a mass COVID-19 vaccination drive on Sunday with pensioners and medics lining up to get the first shots to see off a pandemic that has crippled economies and claimed more than 1.7 million lives worldwide. The region of 450 million people is trying to catch up with the United States and Britain, which have already started vaccinations using the Pfizer shot.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said terror attacks are a “European reality” and that major changes need to be made to EU border security. It comes after three recent Islamist attacks in quick succession – two in France and one in Vienna. Mr Macron was speaking after a video conference to discuss anti-terror strategy with the leaders of Germany, Austria, The Netherlands.
Both Germany and France announced new nationwide lockdowns on Wednesday as Europe enters a deadly new phase of the coronavirus pandemic. Chancellor Angela Merkel says German officials have agreed to a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and other leisure facilities in a bid to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus infections. More than half of France’s intensive care units are already occupied by COVID-19 patients.
US President Donald Trump has announced sweeping travel restrictions on 26 European countries in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The ban applies to travelers from countries which are members of the Schengen border-free travel area. The UK, Ireland and other non-Schengen countries are unaffected. US citizens are also exempt. The EU condemned the measures, which it said were taken “unilaterally and without consultation”.
Russian activist group Pussy Riot member Pyotr Verzilov was flown to Germany on Thursday for treatment after suspected poisoning. Verzilov holds Russian and Canadian citizenship. Two people, including one Russian, got sick while eating in a Salisbury, UK restaurant on Sunday; the city where a previous poisoning occurred. Authorities said it is not clear if a crime was committed.
At least seven people have died across Europe as Storm Ciara moves east, shutting down transport and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. High winds in Poland ripped the roof off a ski rental shop, killing a woman and her two daughters. Their father was injured. One man died after his boat capsized in southern Sweden. One other person on board remains missing.
Thousands of protestors against Britain’s withdrawal from the EU marched in London on Saturday to demand a final vote by citizens on the Brexit deal. One person was killed and four others injured in an attack on a Roma camp in western Ukraine on Saturday night. Seven suspects in the attack have been arrested.
Eurocontrol, the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation announced that about half of European flights could be delayed after a system failure on Tuesday. The failure of the ‘Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System’ took place at the Eurocontrol center in Brussels, Belgium. The fault was only the system’s second failure in 20 years.