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Britain ran against the clock on Sunday to vaccinate as many people as possible while Germany warned of the “toughest” days Europe still had to tackle high-flying coronavirus infections.

January 11th is a year since China confirmed its first death from COVID-19, a 61-year-old man who was regular in the market in Wuhan City, where the pandemic hit before it spread around the world.

Almost two million deaths later, the pandemic is still flourishing. New variants are again causing governments from Israel to Australia to impose bans, curfews and restrictions – even when mass vaccinations are carried out.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that every adult in the UK will be offered a sting by the fall. By mid-February, 200,000 people will be vaccinated daily to meet a target of 15 million of the most at risk.

The vaccine drive comes as the UK recorded another 1,035 deaths from the virus, bringing its deaths to nearly 81,000, one of the highest tolls in Europe.

Soaring cases are forcing UK bosses to try to prevent hospital congestion and the government to step up their campaign for home compliance.

“Of course we are all fed up with the restrictions, but we have to find the collective strength to get through this critical period and save as many lives as possible,” wrote UK Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty in the Sunday Times.

Germany recorded 40,000 deaths on Sunday, the Center for Disease Control said.

Chancellor Merkel warned in a weekly video message that the country had not yet felt the full effect of the conviviality over Christmas and New Year.

The coming weeks will be “the most severe phase of the pandemic yet,” she said, as hospitals reach their limits. So far, more than 1.9 million people have been infected, and since Saturday almost 17,000 new cases in Germany.

Belgium also crossed a significant threshold on Sunday, surpassing 20,000 deaths, more than half in nursing homes.

– Examples of vaccines –

With vaccines the only way to end the health crisis, governments around the world are increasing vaccinations and are being forced to reintroduce economically painful shutdowns and restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

Pope Francis and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth became the latest high-profile figures to join the global vaccination campaign as officials sought to overcome skepticism about record-breaking shocks.

Pope Francis urged people to get vaccinated and said he would be vaccinated himself next week when the Vatican begins its campaign while denouncing opposition to the sting.

“There is a suicide objection that I cannot explain, but today we have to get vaccinated,” the Pope told Canale 5 in an interview that aired on Sunday.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip received their COVID-19 vaccinations on Saturday, Buckingham Palace said.

Countries around the world follow with coronavirus shots approved by Pfizer-BioNTech and U.S. firm Moderna, as well as domestically manufactured shots from Russia and China.

India will launch one of the world’s most ambitious coronavirus vaccination campaigns this coming Saturday, reaching 300 million people by July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

Cuba said it will test its most advanced COVID vaccine candidate in Iran after Tehran banned imports of already proven vaccines from the US and UK.

Stricter restrictions

As more vaccination programs get started, governments are being forced to reintroduce restrictions that helped slow the spread of the virus last year but severely disrupted their economies.

Israel began its first working week on Sunday since new restrictions were put in place to tighten the third national coronavirus lockdown declared last month.

Schools that were open during the first phase of lockdown have now closed in some cases after a surge.

All non-essential businesses have also been closed, and increased police operations have forced people to be banned more than 1,000 meters from their homes unless they seek medical care or buy essential goods, among other things.

France was scheduled to expand its COVID-19 curfew to eight departments on Sunday, and the Canadian province of Quebec also launched an overnight curfew.

The streets of Brisbane, Australia were also quiet on Saturday as the more than two million residents were locked again after authorities found a single infection of the new strain from Britain.

Follow the latest news on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

© 2021 AFP

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