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EU countries lift restrictions despite warnings of spread of virus variant

EUROPEAN NATIONS (China Daily/ANN) -- As successful vaccination campaigns allow European nations to gradually lift their COVID-19 restrictions, medical experts and governments are warning that a cautious approach is essential with some saying the relaxations are coming too soon.
Infection and death rates have halved since last month in the European Union’s biggest nations, such as Italy, Spain, Germany and France, but hospitals continue to face pressure, reported the Financial Times.

People enjoy the scenery from a viewing platform in Rome, Italy, May 15, 2021. --Photo Xinhua

Those nations are now steadily easing social restrictions, but health advisors and some government officials warn the virus is far from being defeated and that vaccination campaigns need more time before curbs can be relaxed further.
Statistics from Our World in Data, referenced by the FT, say 30 percent of the EU population has received one dose of a vaccine, but scientists remain concerned the level of protection is too low.
The FT quoted Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, who said the virus must first be reduced to a “low ebb” before a full summer tourist season could be considered across the continent.
“We need to get to lower levels if we don’t want to restart the problems again too quickly,” he said. “If some places get stuck on a moderate to high plateau, the summer and autumn will be very complicated.”
In the United Kingdom, the rate of inoculation in the population is higher, with nearly 20 million people, or one-third of the adult population, having had both jabs of their vaccine. Another 17 million have had one dose, according to the BBC.
The Press Association reported that British travel companies are seeing a surge in demand for trips to Portugal, after the government put the country on its so-called “green-list” for travel.
The spread of variants of COVID-19 mean Britons are being urged to stay away from countries on the government’s so-called “amber-list “such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece, reported The Times.
Despite lifting a ban on leisure travel outside the UK, the government has said people should “not be travelling to amber or red countries”. Speaking on Times Radio, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned against visiting those countries because of the risk posed by the mutant novel coronavirus strains.
European governments and travel agents are urging anyone making a trip in Europe to be “fully vaccinated”, which is regarded as traveling at least two weeks after the final dose of vaccine has been administered, Forbes reported.
John Bell, professor of medicine at Oxford University and a member of the UK government’s vaccine task force, warned against European travel as large parts of the continent were “largely unvaccinated”.
He told Times Radio: “We aren’t at the peak of this thing globally at all yet.”


(Latest Update May 19, 2021)

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