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CORONAPAS

Denmark confirms change to coronapas validity period

The validity period for Denmark’s Covid-19 health pass, the coronapas, will be reduced to five months following parliamentary approval.

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke displays the coronapas at a May 2021 briefing. The validity period for the health pass following Covid-19 vaccination will be reduced on January 16th.
Health Minister Magnus Heunicke displays the coronapas at a May 2021 briefing. The validity period for the health pass following Covid-19 vaccination will be reduced on January 16th. Photo:Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

The changes to the rules, first reported last week, were confirmed by Health Minister Magnus Heunicke to broadcaster TV2 on Wednesday afternoon after a meeting of parliament’s Epidemic Committee, which must approve changes to Covid-19 restrictions.

Under current rules, a coronapas is valid for seven months after a person is fully vaccinated, meaning they have received their second or final dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The new rules reduce that validity period to five months. The coronapas becomes valid again or remains valid if the holder has received a booster vaccination.

The change comes into effect on Sunday January 16th according to earlier information provided by the Ministry of health. This means that people who received their second dose five to seven months ago but have not had a booster will lose their green coronapas on that date.

Up to 500,000 people in Denmark could be lose their valid coronapas as a result of the change to the rules, news wire Ritzau writes.

The Covid health pass will become valid again immediately after the booster jab is received, according to the planned rule changes earlier announced by the Ministry of Health.

No decision has yet been made on the validity period of the coronapas following the booster jab. As such, no expiry date is currently set for the pass following boosters.

According to the rule changes tabled by the government to the Epidemic Committee earlier this week, the period for which the coronapas becomes invalid following a positive PCR test for Covid-19 is reduced from 14 days to 11 days under the new rules. It remains valid until five months after the positive PCR test (unless the holder subsequently receives a second or booster vaccine dose).

A valid coronapas is currently required at bars, restaurants, cafes and several other customer-facing businesses in the service sector. It must also be presented on intercity trains and regional buses, at universities, language schools and other further education, at state workplaces and at gyms and places of worship.

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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