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A further 40,941 coronavirus cases have been recorded in the UK today, according to most recent data.
Saturday’s figures mark the third consecutive day that the number positive tests have tipped over into the 40,000 threshold, bring the seven-day total to 283,718.
Meanwhile, 150 deaths within 28 days of positive test have been recorded.
It comes after the WHO said that it is “very worried” about the surge in Covid-19 infections being seen across Europe.
Meanwhile, authorities in Rotterdam have arrested 51 people following a violent protest against the country’s coronavirus restrictions on Friday night.
On Saturday afternoon, police said that around half of the people they had arrested were minors.
One officer was hospitalised with a leg injury sustained during the riot, while another was treated on-site by ambulance staff and “countless” others sustained minor injuries.
Two rioters were also hospitalised, after being hit by bullets. An investigation is underway to determine if they were fired by the police.
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic across Europe.
Stay tuned for live updates.
Police in Rotterdam used a water cannon and fired shots in an effort to disperse hundreds of rioters at a violent anti-lockdown protest on Friday night.
The protest was in response to the Dutch government’s plan to introduce a law that would prevent unvaccinated people from accessing select venues. It follows the reimposition of a partial lockdown a week ago – bars, restaurants and essential shops are now legally required to close at 8pm.
At least two people were shot, and seven are understood to have been injured, with police officers among them.
My colleague Tom Batchelor reports.
Riot police used water cannon in an attempt to move hundreds of rioters
Holiday plans are in doubt for up to 100,000 Britons as Covid-19 restrictions return to many parts of Europe, following a surge in cases.
On Monday, Austria became the first European country to reimpose a full lockdown
Similarly, Germany appears to be considering a lockdown, as it faces a fourth wave of infections that, according to outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel, has hit the nation “with full force”. The country has already cancelled the Munich Christmas market which was due to begin next weekend.
Meanwhile, infections continue to soar in the Netherlands, where 23,000 new cases on Thursday – nearly double the peak of 13,000 reached in December 2020 – despite entering a three-week partial lockdown last week, under which bars, restaurants and essential shops are required to close at 8pm.
Science correspondent Samuel Lovett reports.
Austria has become the first country in western Europe to reimpose a full Covid lockdown, with Germany considering following suit
Speaking to reporters in the early hours of Saturday morning, the mayor of Rotterdam criticized the anti-lockdown riots witnessed in the port city on Friday night.
Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said: “On a number of occasions the police felt it necessary to draw their weapons to defend themselves,” and “even fire direct shots”.
It was “an orgy of violence,” he said. “I can’t think of another way to describe it.”
Scenes from the anti-lockdown protest in Rotterdam:
On Friday, the Czech Republic reported 22,936 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily tally since the pandemic began.
The country also recorded 110 deaths on Thursday, marking the first time that the death toll has surpassed 100 since April.
The government has moved to increase restrictions in an effort to ease the burden on hospitals. As of this coming Monday, only people who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months will be able to enter bars, restaurants and hotels, or visit hairdressers, museums and similar facilities.
To date, the country of 10.7 million people has registered nearly two million Covid cases, and 32,005 deaths.
It is hoped that the new measures will encourage more people to get vaccinated. According to Our World in Data, only 58.2 per cent of the Czech Republic’s population is fully vaccinated.
Visitors to Belfast’s Christmas Market will now be required to prove their Covid negative status to be granted entry to the event.
Previously, event organisers had said these measures would only apply on weekends and busy days, but on Friday said the rule would be in place at all times.
In a statement shared on Facebook, they said the decision was taken ahead of the rollout of Northern Ireland’s Covid passport scheme, which is expected to be introduced on 29 November.
Accepted forms of proof include: covid passports, proof of vaccination, negative Covid tests taken within the previous 48 hours (lateral flow or PCR), and proof of recovery from Covid, through a positive PCR test taken within the previous 30 to 180 days.
Organisers added that they were “recommending mask wearing for all those in attendance” and “encouraging payment using card rather than cash” to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus while protecting staff and customers.
The market opens today at noon outside Belfast City Hall.
Slovakia reported 9,171 new Covid cases on Friday, marking its highest daily case count since the pandemic began.
Slovakia currently has the EU’s third-lowest vaccination rate with around 45 per cent of the population having received two doses of a Covid vaccine.
Earlier this week, the Slovakian government imposed tighter Covid restrictions, which prime minister Eduard Heger referred to as a “lockdown for the unvaccinated”, in hopes of easing the burden on the country’s already overwhelmed hospitals.
According to Our World in Data, the Slovakia currently has the worst reported epidemic situation in the world, with a seven-day incidence rate of 11,500 new infections per 1,000,000 residents.
As Austria, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Sweden are advising or ordering their citizens to wear masks, avoid crowded spaces, work from home, maintain social distancing and get vaccine passports, the so called “blizzard from the East” continues to gather storm force.
Scotland and Wales have begun implementing elements of England’s “Plan B”, but England, under Boris Johnson’s leadership, is determined to say the course, trusting in the defensive wall of vaccine coverage rather than implementing additional measures to stem the rising spread of infection.
While mitigation measures may cause some inconvenience, this pales in comparison to the prospect of a full lockdown, and it is difficult to see the downside of these policies when they will serve to protect the NHS, and protect the prospect of a ‘normal’ Christmas.
Read more from The Independent’s latest editorial on the Covid-19 pandemic below.
Editorial: A false sense of security seems to have formed, and with every day that passes without action the chances of a traditional Christmas diminish
Thousands of protesters are expected to gather in Vienna on today, demonstrating against the nationwide lockdown.
The lockdown, which is set to begin on Monday, was announced on Friday, and is intended to contain soaring Covid cases across the country. Under the new measures, most stores must close, and cultural events will be cancelled. People will only be permitted to leave their homes for specific reasons, including buying groceries, going to medical appointments, and exercising. It is expected to last for 20 days, at most.
The government also announced that beginning on 1 February, the country would make vaccinations mandatory.
Austria’s far-right opposition Freedom Party is among those who have called for the protest. Party leader Herbert Kickl, who will be unable to attend the protest, after testing positive for the virus earlier this week, referred to the new measures as “dictatorship”.
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