UK's unlawful PPE contracts, Germany to mandate jabs?: COVID-19 daily bulletin
Daniel Harries
Pupils queue to receive coronavirus vaccinations at a primary school in Naples, Italy. /Reuters/Ciro De Luca

Pupils queue to receive coronavirus vaccinations at a primary school in Naples, Italy. /Reuters/Ciro De Luca


· The UK government's use of a 'VIP fast lane' for personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers with contacts to government ministers and officials has been ruled unlawful by the High Court.

Campaign groups the Good Law Project and EveryDoctor took the government to court over claims that suppliers with political connections were given preferential treatment in acquiring contracts worth millions of pounds.

· Russia has so far recorded 698 cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant and will prepare new measures by the end of the week to combat its spread, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said.

Omicron has pushed case figures to record highs in Western Europe, but the variant has been slower to hit Russia, where daily cases have fallen from a peak of 41,335 registered in early November.

· France's Health Minister Olivier Veran said it was too early to say if the current, Omicron-fueled wave had peaked in the country, which is currently reporting record numbers of daily new cases.

"We still need a bit of time to work out whether or not we are near a current COVID peak," Veran told France Info radio, adding that the more dangerous Delta variant was declining in France.

French health authorities on Tuesday reported 368,149 new coronavirus cases, the highest single-day tally of the pandemic. And the seven-day moving average of new cases, which smoothes out reporting irregularities, rose to a record level of 283,394.

· Germany reported 80,430 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, the highest recorded in a single day since the pandemic began, as the contagious Omicron variant rips through a population with lower vaccination rates than some other parts of Europe.

The previous daily record, on November 26, was more than 76,000. Just under 75 percent of the population has had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious disease show.

· The ruling Social Democrats (SPD) expect a bill on making vaccination mandatory in Germany to be voted on by parliament in March, the party's leader in the legislature said.

Parliament passed a law in December making coronavirus vaccinations compulsory for certain professions from mid-March onwards. The SPD plans to have an expanded vaccine mandate proposal ready after a parliamentary debate at the end of January, said the SPD's Rolf Muetzenich.

· Surging infections are forcing local authorities in Finland to deviate from a government strategy based on mass testing, tracking and isolation. Helsinki and neighboring cities recommend that those with a mild infection do not get an official test as the waiting time can now be days, authorities said in a joint statement.

"Tracing infections has lost its effectiveness due to delays in testing and in contacting the patients," they said. Instead, authorities said anyone with symptoms, including children, should stay home voluntarily.

· Ireland should be in a position to start easing restrictions from next month once the number of people requiring critical care remains stable, a senior minister said on Wednesday.

Ireland has the second-highest incidence rate of COVID-19 in Europe and one of the continent's highest uptakes of booster vaccines, helping keep the number of patients in intensive care stable and well below the peak of previous waves of the disease.


Source(s): Reuters ,AFP

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