Authorities have warned that South Africa is approaching the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, and it is not a question of if, but when the fourth wave will peak.
On Tuesday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported 868 new cases of the virus in the country. This high number was attributed to the government’s decision to include results from the popular rapid antigen tests as part of the national database.
Currently, only 23.4 % of South African adults are fully vaccinated. The government is aiming to get 70% of the population immunised to avoid a festive season lockdown.
Several European countries in partial lockdown
Netherlands, Greece, Latvia, Germany, Slovakia, Italy, Czechia, Sweden and Austria have implemented partial lockdowns and/or tougher restrictions on unvaccinated adults as Europe enters the fourth wave.
Over the weekend, protests broke in Austria, Belgium and Netherlands with irate residents protesting against the Covid-19 vaccines.
Last week, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the country would be going into a three-week lockdown that includes the closure of bars, restaurants and essential shops from 8pm, with non-essential retail and services such as hairdressers to close at 6pm.
The government is also exploring ways to restrict access to indoor venues for unvaccinated people. But it said that’s a politically sensitive measure that would require parliamentary approval.
While the country’s prime minister ruled out another nationwide lockdown, the country has introduced tough measures on the unvaccinated population, and may impose even tighter restrictions to ensure the country’s marketplace remains open for Christmas.
75% of Greece’s adult population are vaccinated. People who are not fully inoculated cannot visit public spaces like movie theatres, pubs, gyms and museums. There is also a seven-month expiration date on vaccine passes for over 60s who haven’t had a booster shot.
The Baltic country became the first European country to reintroduce the lockdown in October. Low vaccine rates (61%) were blamed for the increased hospitalisation rates.
Severe restrictions have been imposed on the unvaccinated. For example, they are only allowed to attend religious gatherings individually for 15 minutes and cannot be in the presence of vaccinated people.
Employees working onsite must be fully vaccinated. They will also have to use separate entrances at shops for essential goods.
German health minister, Jens Spahn, says citizens will either be vaccinated, cured or dead as the country approaches winter amid increasing infections.
“With the very contagious Delta variant, it is very, very likely that anyone who is not vaccinated will over the next few months become infected and lack protection,” said Spahn.
Around 30,000 new cases have been reported in the country, fuelling concerns of another lockdown. Outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel and the heads of Germany’s 16 states agreed to introduce a vaccine mandate for workers in hospitals and care homes.
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger is mulling another lockdown as the country’s health ministry reports increased infections. But the country’s unvaccinated people are in lockdown.
They are not allowed in pubs, gyms, hairdressers. Only those who’ve had the jab or have had Covid-19 in the past six months are allowed to visit restaurants, shopping malls, shops with non-essential goods, sports activities and public events.
Leaders of local governments in the country are pushing for further restrictions on the unvaccinated under a so-called “super green pass” scheme. Italians need to produce a health certificate or “green pass” at cinemas and indoor restaurants, workplaces and some forms of public transport.
The certificate shows that the bearer has been vaccinated, has recovered from the disease within the last six months, or has tested negative in the last few days.
The Czech Republic is debating another lockdown and mandatory vaccines. The country reported running out of personnel at hospitals, pensioner homes and social care facilities. The incoming new government is against another lockdown, but the country’s health minister and chief epidemiologist are in support of mandatory vaccines.
Sweden plans to introduce a vaccination pass on 1 December for public indoor events of more than 100 people. The country is expected to see a rise in cases during the winter months.
During the pandemic’s early days, Sweden stood out by not introducing a lockdown and only recommending the use of masks in certain situations where crowding was unavoidable. 67% of Swedes are fully vaccinated.
Tensions are rising in the country, after that government reinstated the fourth full lockdown and began to implement mandatory vaccines. Austrians have been asked to work from home and non-essential shops are closed. Vaccine rates are now climbing steadily since the lockdown. Thousands of people protested in the capital Vienna against the lockdown.