Ursula von der Leyen says vaccination is answer to Omicron
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In a surprising acknowledgment that health systems across European Union member states are buckling under the pressure of soaring hospital admissions spurred by rising COVID-19 cases, the European Commission President urged Europeans to get jabbed as she stressed vaccines are the only way out of the pandemic chaos. Ursula von der Leyen last month said she the Union might look into the potential introduction of mandatory vaccination to tackle the ongoing health crisis across the bloc.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Ms von der Leyen shared her concerns that the bloc is teetering on the edge of a major crisis.
She said: “We know that our healthcare systems are overstretched right now.
“This is partly linked to the large number of unvaccinated patients.”
The Commission President added how “the answer can only be to increase vaccination” as she threw down the gauntlet on those opposing jabs in the bloc.
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Ms von der Leyen said a ramp-up of jabs must even include “children above five years old”.
She also said “boosting and protective measures” are the answer to combatting the spread of the Omicron variant in the EU.
It comes as restrictions have been brought in across the continent to tackle the latest surge in infections as the contagious Omicron variant has spread at record speeds.
Germany has now banned the unvaccinated from restaurants and non-essential commerce as they seek to clamp down on the new variant.
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The Netherlands has been forced to postpone non-urgent and routine care as they battle soaring hospital admissions.
France has blocked all travellers arriving from the UK through fears of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.
This is despite experts warning that Omicron is already in France and will be the dominant variant by the start of next year.
The rapid spread has also sparked Switzerland to demand vaccine passports or proof of recovery from COVID-19 in order to enter restaurants from Monday. Bars and nightclubs require negative test results.
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Austria has introduced compulsory vaccines for all citizens from February amid huge levels of vaccine hesitancy which triggered a wave of infections last month, the move sparked protests across the country.
Germany is also considering bringing in mandatory jabs next year.
The UK reported a record 93,045 COVID-19 cases on Friday.
Fears are now spreading of a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown in the UK, reportedly being drawn up by ministers to come into effect in late December and into January, as reported by The Times on Saturday, in order to combat the spread of Omicron.
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