Coronavirus News Update – May 18: Europe Cautiously Reopens as Indian Variant Looms

Doctors in Tokyo Call for Cancellation of Summer Olympics There

By Anna Breuer on 18 May 2021
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Krakow’s Rynek Główny, the largest medieval town square in any European city

Countries in Europe are cautiously moving towards normalcy, as governments there lift restrictions in response to a decline in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The French prime minister, Jean Castex, said that the easing of restrictions would “take place in a gradual, careful and guided way” there, while the United Kingdom’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, issued a warning over the Indian coronavirus variant known as B.1.617. “We must be humble in the face of this virus,” he told Parliament Monday.  Cases there remain flat and there are fears that the variant could delay a full reopening on the Continent and in the British Isles.

In Poland, bars and restaurants reopened over the weekend after months of being closed and Britain began to enjoy indoor dining on Monday.  In France, outdoor dining on café terraces will begin Wednesday along with the reopening of cinemas and theaters, while Italy will adjust its nighttime cufew from 10 to 11 p.m. local time.

As of Tuesday morning, the world has recorded over 164.9 million Covid-19 cases and has seen over 3.4 million deaths, according to Worldometer, a service that tracks such information. In addition, over 143.3 million people worldwide have recovered from the virus.

Since the start of vaccinations at the end of last year, the world has administered more than 1.48 billion doses as of Tuesday morning, the equivalent of over 19 doses for every 100 people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that as of Tuesday, 157.8 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Approximately 59.8% of the population over the age of 18 –some 154.5 million people – has received at least a first inoculation, including 122.2 million people, or 47.4% of the same population, who have received both doses. Meanwhile, 56.3% of the population over the age of 12, or 157.8 million people, have received at least one shot, including 122.2 million, or 44.2% of the same population, who have received both doses. Overall, 37% of the population, or 122.9 million people, has been fully vaccinated against the virus.

Protests against holding the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo continue. On Tuesday, doctors in the city called for the games’ cancellation, saying that hospitals in the Japanese capital are already overwhelmed and “have almost no spare capacity.”

More Covid-19 patients are under 50, a stark contrast to the situation one year earlier.  The change reflects the success of the vaccination program that has inoculated 85% of Americans over 65, but it may also reflect pandemic fatigue, a situation in which people believe that, since they are healthy, they need not continue to take appropriate precautions.

Finally, health officials in Germany put some 200 residents of an apartment complex in Mettmann, a town in Nordrhein-Westfalen, after one person there tested positive for the Indian coronavirus variant known as B.1.617.

Jonathan Spira contributed reporting to this story.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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