Europe International

France to toughen entry rules for travellers from at-risk countries

Paris, Jul 17: The French secretary of state for European affairs announced on Saturday stricter coronavirus rules for travellers coming from the United Kingdom and five EU countries, effective July 18, as the Delta variant continues to spread across the region.“For those coming/returning from Spain and Portugal, but also Cyprus, Greece, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom: an antigen or PCR test of fewer than 24 hours is required for the unvaccinated,” Clement Beaune tweeted. All unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated travellers from these countries will also need to prove they are travelling for an essential purpose. The list of high-risk “red zone” countries will be expanded to include Cuba, Indonesia, Mozambique and Tunisia. Travellers arriving from these countries must have an overriding reason to enter and go into a mandatory quarantine for 10 days, in addition to having a negative PCR test and…

Europe International

Eiffel Tower reopens; COVID passes required as of next week

The Eiffel Tower is reopening Friday for the first time in nine months even though the French government introduced new virus rules this week aimed at taming the fast-spreading delta variant. The “Iron Lady” of Paris was ordered shut in October as France battled its second virus surge of the pandemic. The tower remained shut for renovations even after most of France’s major tourist draws reopened last month. Its reopening comes four days after President Emmanuel Macron announced new measures aimed at warding off a fourth surge, including mandatory vaccinations for health workers and mandatory COVID-19 passes to enter restaurants and venues such as the Eiffel Tower. Starting Wednesday, all visitors to the monument over age 18 will need to show a pass proving they’ve been fully vaccinated, had a negative virus test or recently recovered from COVID-19. The number of daily visitors to…

Europe International

Over 60 dead, dozens missing as severe floods strike Europe

Recent storms across parts of western Europe made rivers and reservoirs burst their banks, triggering flash floods overnight after the saturated soil couldn’t absorb any more water. More than 60 people have died and dozens were missing Thursday as severe flooding in Germany and Belgium turned streams and streets into raging torrents that swept away cars and caused houses to collapse. Among those killed were nine residents of an assisted living facility for people with disabilities and two firefighters involved in rescue efforts across the region. “I grieve for those who have lost their lives in this disaster,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a visit to Washington, expressing shock at the scope of the flooding. Speaking alongside U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House, Merkel said her thoughts were with all those who had lost loved ones or were still searching for…

Europe International

Eiffel Tower Reopens For The First Time In Nine Months

The Eiffel Tower is reopening Friday for the first time in nine months even though the French government introduced new virus rules this week aimed at taming the fast-spreading delta variant. The “Iron Lady” of Paris was ordered shut in October as France battled its second virus surge of the pandemic. The tower remained shut for renovations even after most of France’s major tourist draws reopened last month. Its reopening comes four days after President Emmanuel Macron announced new measures aimed at warding off a fourth surge, including mandatory vaccinations for health workers and mandatory COVID-19 passes to enter restaurants and venues such as the Eiffel Tower. Starting Wednesday, all visitors to the monument over age 18 will need to show a pass proving they’ve been fully vaccinated, had a negative virus test or recently recovered from COVID-19. The number of daily visitors to…

Europe International

German President calls for drastic action to tackle climate change amid floods in Europe

Berlin, Jul 16: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday that efforts to fight climate change must be intensified as floods continue to ravage the country’s west and other parts of Europe.“Only if we decisively take up the fight against climate change, we will be able to keep the extreme weather conditions that we are currently experiencing under certain control,” Steinmeier said in an address to citizens, published on Facebook. On Wednesday, the president contacted by phone the authorities of the two most affected federal states, namely, Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, and pledged to personally visit these areas “at the appropriate time” to talk to the victims, as well as volunteers taking part in rescue operations. Heavy rainfall and floodwater have collapsed houses in western Germany, killing nearly 60 people since Monday.

Europe International

Germany floods: 30 dead, several missing after record rain in Western Europe

Raging floods caused by heavy rain-ravaged areas of Germany and Belgium on Thursday, destroying buildings and sweeping away vehicles with more than 30 people losing their lives in the natural disaster. After homes were severely damaged, or in some cases swept away, local residents started to clean up the debris and rebuild some normality. Emergency workers meanwhile continued to assist those still trapped and look for possible injured persons. Authorities used inflatable boats and helicopters, and the German army deployed 200 soldiers to assist in the rescue operation. Storms across parts of western Europe in recent days caused rivers and reservoirs to burst their banks, resulting in several flash floods overnight as rain-soaked soil failed to absorb any more water. The full extent of the damage across the region was still unclear after many villages were cut off by floodwater and landslides that made…

Europe International

Dozens of people died in flooding in Europe triggered by rainfall ‘not seen in 100 years’.

At least 46 people have died due to severe flooding in western Europe, caused by what experts described as the heaviest rainfall in a century. Up to 70 people are missing in Germany after flash floods swept across western and southern parts of the country, causing buildings to collapse, police said Thursday. Germany is worst hit with 40 people killed, while six people died in Belgium. Luxembourg and the Netherlands are also affected. “In some areas we have not seen this much rainfall in 100 years,” Andreas Friedrich, a German weather service (DWD) spokesman. He added that “in some areas we’ve seen more than double the amount of rainfall which has caused flooding and unfortunately some building structures to collapse. “The German village of Insol in Rhineland-Palatinate is inundated after massive rainfall. A resident of North-Rhine Westphalia examines the damage on Thursday. The German…

Europe International

Immunized but banned: EU says not all COVID vaccines equal

After Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor and his wife received two doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in Nigeria, they assumed they would be free to travel this summer to a European destination of their choice. They were wrong. The couple — and millions of other people who have been vaccinated through a U.N.-backed effort — could find themselves barred from entering many European and other countries because those nations don’t recognize the Indian-made version of the vaccine for travel. Although AstraZeneca vaccine produced in Europe has been authorized by the continent’s drug regulatory agency, the same shot manufactured in India hasn’t been given the green light. EU regulators said AstraZeneca hasn’t completed the necessary paperwork on the Indian factory, including details on its production practices and quality control standards. But some experts describe the EU move as discriminatory and unscientific, pointing out that the World Health…

Europe International

Inclusion Of Covishield In EU’s COVID-19 Vaccination Passport

External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Tuesday took up the issue of inclusion of Covishield in the EU COVID-19 Vaccination Passport with a top European Union official and promised to follow up on the matter. Only four vaccines- Comirnaty of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Vaxzervria by AstraZeneca-Oxford and, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen- have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Only those inoculated with these vaccines will be given vaccination passports and allowed to travel within the EU during the pandemic. People vaccinated with Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), are unlikely to be eligible to travel to the European Union member states under the ‘Green Pass’ scheme as the vaccine is yet to be cleared by the EMA. Jaishankar, who met Josep Borrell Fontelles, the High Representative of the European Union here on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’…

Europe International

Travel To Europe Still A Worry As India-Made Covishield Yet To Get European Union `Green Pass`

The recipients of the Covishield vaccine may not be eligible for Europe’s new ‘vaccine passport’ programme, which recognises a few COVID-19 vaccines whose recipients will be able to travel in and out of Europe with fewer roadblocks than others. The European Union has come up with the concept of Green Pass, which is an immunity document that is meant to ease travel within and to the bloc. Currently, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved only four COVID-19 vaccines for the programme and Covishield vaccine, developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), is not on the list.  Even though Covishield has the WHO’s approval, the ‘Green Pass’ program only accommodates EMA-approved vaccines. The four COVID-19 vaccines approved by EMA are Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech), Moderna, Vaxzervria (AstraZeneca-Oxford), Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). This latest development comes as a shock to the people because while the India-made COVID-19 vaccine,…

Europe International

EU leaders defend LGBT rights amid concern over Hungary law

European Union leaders clashed with Hungary’s prime minister during a heated summit Thursday over new legislation in his country that will ban showing content about LGBT issues to children, a measure that has been widely criticised across the region and has angered human rights groups. A majority of the leaders insisted that discrimination must not be tolerated in the 27-nation bloc and told Viktor Orban that the new Hungarian law goes against the EU’s fundamental values. “Being homosexual is not a choice; being homophobic is,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told Orban during the meeting, according to a EU diplomat. The person spoke anonymously according to usual practice. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte launched a virulent tongue-lashing, suggesting that Orban activate the same clause in the bloc’s treaty that Britain used to leave if he is not happy with the EU’s principles, another…

Europe International

UK set for hugs, indoor dining as COVID curbs further relaxed

England will move ahead with plans to ease further COVID-19 restrictions on May 17, including allowing people to hug and meet indoors, thanks to favourable data on infections and vaccines, the government said on Sunday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a news conference on Monday afternoon to announce the details of the third step in the United Kingdom’s “roadmap” out of the crisis, following discussions with colleagues and advisers in the morning. “The data reflects what we already knew – we are not going to let this virus beat us,” Johnson said, according to a Downing Street statement. “The roadmap remains on track, our successful vaccination programme continues – more than two-thirds of adults in the UK have now had the first vaccine – and we can now look forward to unlocking cautiously but irreversibly.” The country is in the process of gradually…

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