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AFP
June 11, 2021

Abu Dhabi to impose tougher Covid rules for unvaccinated; Vaccination in Europe ‘far from sufficient’, says WHO

AFP
June 11, 2021

Copenhagen: The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on Thursday that vaccination rates in Europe were still far off what was needed to stop a virus resurgence and called on countries to maintain protective measures.

According to the organisation, 30 percent of people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 17 percent have been fully vaccinated in the WHO’s European Region -- which spans 53 countries and territories and includes several in Central Asia. "Although we have come far, we have not come far enough," Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, told a press conference.

"Vaccination coverage is far from sufficient to protect the region from a resurgence. The distance to go before reaching at least 80 percent coverage of the adult population is still considerable," Kluge added.

He noted that the region had seen an overall decline in new cases, hospitalisations and deaths for two consecutive months, but urged nations to avoid repeating the "mistake" of last summer by easing measures prematurely, leading to a resurgence in the autumn.

"Over the course of last summer, cases gradually rose in younger age groups and then moved into older age groups, contributing to a devastating resurgence, lockdowns and loss of life, in the autumn and winter of 2020," Kluge said.

He called on countries to take "last year’s lessons aboard," by acting fast on signals of increasing cases, expanding testing and contact tracing, and "rapidly attaining very high vaccine uptake in the most vulnerable populations."

He also called on people to "enjoy the summer safely" by adhering to health guidelines.Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi is to bring in new Covid rules from next Tuesday that will require less frequent testing to access public places for those who have been fully vaccinated.

All residents of the largest of the seven emirates that make up the UAE have been provided with a colour-coded app detailing their testing and vaccination history. From next week, only those with "green" status will be allowed entry to shopping malls and large supermarkets, gyms, hotels, parks, beaches and swimming pools, entertainment venues, cinemas, museums, and restaurants and cafes, the Abu Dhabi Media Office said.

People who have been fully inoculated will maintain their "green" status for 30 days after their last negative PCR test, while those who have not been vaccinated will maintain it for just three days.

The United Arab Emirates, which has mounted an intensive Covid vaccination campaign, warned in April that those who remained unvaccinated would face restrictions on their movement.

In a related development, Iran’s confirmed Covid-19 cases surpassed the three million mark on Thursday, the health ministry said, while daily cases and deaths continued a downward trend ahead of a presidential poll. The Islamic republic, battling the Middle East’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, is preparing to hold its presidential election on June 18.