After marches in Europe against vaccination rules, the W.H.O. warns the pandemic is ‘nowhere near finished.’

Thousands of protesters in France and Greece marched on Wednesday against the inoculation campaigns in both countries after the authorities announced new coronavirus vaccination requirements this week.

Those rules are in keeping with encouragement by the World Health Organization to increase vaccination efforts. The pandemic is “nowhere near finished,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, said at a news briefing on Thursday. Another W.H.O. official, Prof. Didier Houssin, urged countries to discourage mass gatherings.

French and Greek officials announced on Monday that shots would soon be mandatory for health workers. In France, proof of vaccination or a negative test will also be required to enter restaurants, movie theaters and malls starting this month.

Like in many other European countries, vaccinations in France (where 39 percent of those eligible have been fully immunized, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford) and Greece (where that number is at 41 percent) have accelerated over the past few months.

The new measures carry a political risk for President Emmanuel Macron of France less than a year before a presidential election. Vaccine hesitancy in the country is high, and opponents on the far right and on the far left have criticized the requirements. But Mr. Macron has argued that vaccinations are “the only way to a return to normal life.”

In Greece, demonstrators also gathered to protest against a plan to make coronavirus vaccines available to teenagers over 15.

This year, Italy became the first European country to make inoculation mandatory for health workers. Hundreds have since filed a complaint to contest the legality of the requirement.

In others news from around the world:

Singapore reported a new cluster of infections at karaoke bars, driving the city-state’s biggest daily surge in cases in 10 months. Health officials closed several karaoke lounges, known locally as KTV, and asked anyone who had visited those or similar establishments in recent weeks to come forward for testing or to isolate for 14 days. Singapore recorded 60 cases on Wednesday, but officials said that there were no immediate plans to reintroduce social restrictions because of the growing rate of vaccinations. More than 70 percent of people in Singapore have received at least one dose.

The United States will begin shipping 1.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Sri Lanka as part of its effort to share vaccines with countries in need, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Wednesday.

Source: Read Full Article