April 18, 2024

Pathfinder News

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Covid 19:French Prime Minister Tests Positive

France’s prime minister has tested positive for Covid-19, forcing five Belgian ministers to also go into self-isolation after meeting with the French politician. Prime Minister Jean Castex, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive for the virus after returning to France from a visit with ministers in Brussels. On his return from Belgium, Castex learned his 11-year-old daughter had tested positive for the coronavirus. The Prime Minister then also tested positive and is self-isolating.

His Belgium counterpart, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo, along with four other ministers, are now self- isolating following their meeting. Castex is not experiencing any symptoms and was feeling good when the positive test came back Monday night. Despite being a “contact case” — a person who had contact with someone else with the coronavirus — multiple times before and his wife catching the disease, Castex had until now never caught the disease himself.

The positive test results come as Europe battles a surge in Covid-19 cases that has pushed the continent back to the epicenter of the pandemic, causing governments to toughen restrictions and sparking violent protests from citizens.Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Brussels over tougher government restrictions, with police firing water cannons and tear gas after the peaceful demonstration turned violent. The clashes near the European Commission headquarters came after Belgium tightened its coronavirus restrictions, including broadening mask use and working from home, amid surging cases.

Neighbouring France is also experiencing a rise in Covid-19 infection rates, though President Emmanuel Macron has said a lockdown of the unvaccinated is “not necessary” given the country’s use of a “health pass” to access a wide variety of establishments.Elsewhere Austria has become the first European Union country to go back into full lockdown this autumn amid a record number of cases. Last week, Austria’s seven-day incidence rate passed 1,000 per 1000,000 inhabitants for the first time during the pandemic, according to the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES).

Austria now plans to become the first European nation to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all eligible people from February 1, according to its Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg.In a desperate attempt to encourage people to get their jabs, Austria’s public broadcaster ORF said it is offering a “vaccination lottery” to eligible residents with prizes including a family house, an electric car and smart TVs.

Austria is not alone. Neighboring Germany is also battling record case numbers, particularly in its eastern states where health officials have warned overstretched hospitals could soon run out of beds for intensive care patients.Germany’s Health Minister, Jens Spahn, didn’t mince his words on Monday as he urged people to get vaccinated. Spahn said he was certain that by the end of this winter, everyone in Germany would be “vaccinated, recovered or dead,” in relation to the Delta variant.