EU Begins ‘Historical’ Coronavirus Vaccine Rollout as New Strain Spreads.
The European Union began an early vaccine rollout Saturday, even as countries in the bloc were forced back into lockdown by a new strain of the virus which is believed to be more infectious and continues to spread from Britain. The planned rollout was actually meant to happen on Sunday, Dec. 27, however, some countries like Germany, Hungary, and Slovakia couldn’t wait and started administering the jab on Saturday, Dec. 26.
Across the world, people are being urged to respect social distancing guidelines, as the World Health Organisation urged people not to “squander” the “great, heart-wrenching sacrifices” people had made to save lives.
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 1.7 million lives and is still running rampant in much of the world, but the recent launching of inoculation campaigns has boosted hopes that 2021 could bring a respite. Only hours before the first vaccine doses arrived in France, the country’s health ministry confirmed late Friday that it had detected its first case of the new variant in a citizen returned from Britain.
New variant cases reported worldwide
The first French case of the new coronavirus variant was found in a citizen resident in Britain who arrived from London on December 19, the French health ministry said. They are asymptomatic and self-isolating at home in Tours in central France, and contact-tracing has taken place for the health professionals who treated him.
The new strain of the virus, which experts fear is more contagious, prompted more than 50 countries to impose travel restrictions on the United Kingdom, where it first emerged. But cases of the new variant have still been reported worldwide: on Friday, Japan confirmed five infections in passengers from the UK, while cases have also been reported in Denmark, Sweden, Lebanon, Germany, Spain, Australia and the Netherlands.
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