Europe

UK to impose hotel quarantine for returning Britons

  LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — British citizens returning home from roughly 30 countries deemed at “high risk” from new coronavirus variants could soon have to quarantine in hotels, reports said on Wednesday. Beefed-up rules will require the travellers to stay in hotels near airports for 10 days, according to the Times and BBC. Non-UK arrivals from the targeted destinations — which include South America, Portugal, Cape Verde and South Africa — are already barred […]

AstraZeneca ‘not selling EU doses to other countries’: CEO

PARIS, France (AFP) — AstraZeneca’s CEO insisted Tuesday that the company was not selling vaccines ordered by the European Union to other countries at a profit, after delayed orders sparked fury from EU leaders. The British-Swedish drugs firm admitted last week that it would not meet its contractual delivery commitments to the EU because of “reduced yields” in its European supply chain. That prompted European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides to announce that the EU plans […]

Italy PM to quit Tuesday, seeking new govt

by Alice RITCHIE ROME, Italy (AFP) — Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced he will resign Tuesday, in what media reports said was an attempt to build a new government after weeks of political turmoil. He called a cabinet meeting for 9:00am (0800 GMT) when he “will inform the ministers of his desire to go to the Quirinale (President Sergio Mattarella’s office) to resign”, his office said. Media reports suggest Conte will seek a mandate […]

France imposes border controls in scramble to avoid lockdown

PARIS, France (AFP) — New border controls came into force in France on Sunday as part of a massive effort to contain the spread of Covid-19 and avoid another nationwide lockdown. After a slow start to vaccinations, French health authorities reported that a million people had received coronavirus inoculations by Saturday. But stubbornly high new rates for infections, hospitalizations and Covid deaths fuelled fears France may need another full lockdown, which would be the third, […]

German virus death toll tops 50,000 as new cases ease

  by Deborah COLE Agence France Presse BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — Germany on Friday recorded more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, as public health officials expressed cautious optimism about a slowing infection rate. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) disease control centre said 859 people died from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 50,642. “That is a distressing, incomprehensible number to […]

Three dead as gas blast rocks Madrid building

by Thomas PERROTEAU MADRID, Spain (AFP) — At least three people were killed on Wednesday when a huge explosion ripped through a building in Madrid, with officials confirming it was caused by a gas leak. Images from the scene showed the walls on the top four or five storeys of the residential building in the heart of the La Latina neighbourhood had been blown out, with debris littered far and wide. Government representative Jose Manuel […]

UK registers daily record of 1,820 coronavirus deaths: govt

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain on Wednesday announced 1,820 fatalities from Covid-19 in a 24-hour period, breaking the previous day’s record toll and taking its total death toll to 93,290. Recent weeks have seen the UK register the highest tallies of daily deaths since the pandemic began, as a virus variant believed to be more contagious has swept the country and threatened to overwhelm hospitals. © Agence France-Presse

At least two dead in Madrid building blast: mayor

MADRID, Spain  (AFP) — At least two people were killed on Wednesday when a huge explosion ripped through a building in Madrid, in what appeared to be caused by a gas leak, officials said. The emergency services tweeted that two people had died, while another person was seriously injured and six had suffered light injuries in the blast. “It seems there was a gas explosion in the building,” mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida told reporters at […]

Strong explosion rocks building in central Madrid: witnesses

MADRID, Spain (AFP) — A strong explosion rocked a building in central Madrid on Wednesday, witnesses said, with images from Spanish television and the emergency services showing the street covered in debris. “Nine fire crews and 11 ambulances have gone to Calle Toledo following an explosion in a building,” local emergency services tweeted. The cause of the blast was not immediately clear. © Agence France-Presse

Serbia starts vaccination with Chinese-made Sinopharm

BELGRADE, Serbia (AFP) — Serbia launched on Tuesday a mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign and became the first European country to use the Chinese-made Sinopharm jab. “It is the only way to return to normal life,” said Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar, the first who received the vaccine. “These are all very safe vaccines,” Loncar said as the state-run RTS television carried his vaccination live at the virology institute in Belgrade. There is no reason for concern […]

One in eight in England have had COVID-19: official data

  LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — An estimated 12 percent of people in England had been infected with coronavirus by December last year, up from nine percent in November, according to official antibody data released Tuesday. One in 10 people in Wales, one in 13 in Northern Ireland and one in 11 in Scotland were also estimated to have caught the virus, according analysis of random blood test results published by the Office for National […]

UK expands virus vaccination campaign to over-70s

by Callum PATON LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain on Monday extended its coronavirus vaccination campaign to people over the age of 70, as new, tougher restrictions for all arrivals to the country came into force. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said some four million people across the country had been vaccinated — half of them aged over 80, and another 50 percent care home workers and residents. The speed of the rollout — Britain’s biggest […]