Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's right-wing National Rally party, said on Thursday that the so-called health passes to cafes, restaurants and shopping malls restrict the freedom of movement of French people in their own country.
"Very quick to censor any firm measure against legal and illegal migrants, the Constitutional Council finds no fault with a law which hinders the freedom of movement of the French, in their own country, on the basis of vaccination. Total hypocrisy," Le Pen tweeted.
Très prompt à censurer toute mesure de fermeté contre l’immigration légale et illégale, le Conseil constitutionnel ne trouve rien à redire à une loi qui entrave la liberté de circuler des Français, dans leur propre pays, sur la base de la vaccination. Hypocrisie totale ! MLP— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) August 5, 2021
The new law on compulsory COVID-19 vaccination for certain professions and the extension of the health pass to bars, restaurants, leisure and cultural venues was announced by President Emmanuel Macron on July 12. Soon it was approved by lawmakers despite thousands of people demonstrating against the legislation.
Health passes have been required since July 21 for museums, theatres, movies, festivals, amusement parks, and all public events attended by more than fifty people.
A rally has been staged outside the French Constitutional Council that approved an extended usage of health passes earlier on Thursday, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
Opponents of the measure gathered at the Port-Royal station, then marched toward the Constitutional Council, which approved health passes for cafes, restaurants, and shopping centres. The new restriction will take effect on August 9.
Yellow vests movement members are reported to have joined the demonstrators who are chanting "Macron, we do not want your sanitary pass!", and "Macron to prison!" Police are present and maintaining order.
President Emmanuel Macron announced new COVID-19 containment measures on July 12, including the so-called sanitary passes, which indicate if the bearer has been vaccinated or has a negative coronavirus test. In addition, the president said vaccination should be mandatory for medical staff and those caring for the elderly. The relevant bill was prepared and passed by the French parliament.
Health passes have been required since July 21 for museums, theatres, movies, at festivals, amusement parks, and all public events attended by more than fifty people.
The Biden administration has not yet made a decision on the vaccination requirement for foreign travelers seeking to enter United States but the respective policy is being worked out, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients said on Thursday.
"Part of that [foreign travel opening] planning is a phased approach that foreign nationals traveling to the United States may, there is still policy work being done here, may need to have some type of a vaccine requirement but that's not a decision at this point," Zients said during a press briefing.
The US authorities have reported a 43 percent increase in the number of new coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and deaths over the past seven days, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said on Thursday.
"Yesterday, CDC reported 103,445 new cases of COVID-19. Our seven day average is about 89,463 cases per day. This represents an increase of 43 percent from the prior seven day average," Walensky said during a press briefing.
Walensky said the seven-day average of hospital admissions is about 7348 per day, an increase of about 41 percent from the prior seven day period.
"And seven day average of daily deaths have also increased to 381 per day, an increase of more than 39 percent from the previous seven day period," she said.
A curfew and new restrictions will be imposed in the Greek regions of Zakynthos and Chania until August 13 due to an increase in COVID-19 infections, the Greek General Secretariat for Civil Protection said on Thursday.
"At the recommendation of the Infectious Disease Commission and the National Committee for Public Health Protection against COVID-19, and as part of the weekly epidemiological surveillance in regions and municipalities, the government decided to impose special local measures for Zakynthos and Chania. These regions will be upgraded to the 'red' [highest] level due to the increased weekly viral load (+69% for Zakynthos and +54% for Chania)," the secretariat said in a press release.
The curfew will take effect at 6 a.m. local time [03:00 GMT] on Friday. It prohibits all non-essential transportation from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Additionally, food and entertainment businesses in Zakynthos and Chania will be prohibited from playing music at any time.
COVID-19 cases in Greece have been on the rise in recent weeks, with new infections reaching 2,856 on Wednesday. Last week, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control cited the increase in coronavirus cases as the reason for marking "red" such popular Greek tourist destinations as Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes.
A 62 percent majority of parents with children under age 18 believe their child care and virtual schooling duties during the pandemic have negatively impacted chances to advance in their careers, a poll by the American Staffing Association (ASA) said on Thursday.
"Work-life balance became a thing of the past for many parents during the COVID-19 pandemic," ASA President Richard Wahlquist said in a press release. "Parents are feeling left behind in their careers and in their workplaces.”
The findings are based on an ASA commissioned Harris Poll of 2,066 U.S. adults, including 1,070 parents and 605 parents of children under 18, the release said.
The survey found that minorities are especially impacted, with seven in 10 Black parents and 62 percent of Hispanic parents concerned that child care and virtual schooling duties hurt their opportunities for career advancement, the release added.
Similar concerns were expressed by 51 percent of White parents, according to the release.
Chinese President Xi Jinping promised on Thursday to provide 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses and $100 million in aid to the COVAX shot-sharing scheme by the end of the year.
"China will continue to do what it takes to help developing countries deal with the epidemic. China will make every effort to provide the world with 2 billion vaccine doses this year," he said in a written address to the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation.
China is hosting the first edition of the virtual forum in an effort to promote fair and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.
The United Nations estimates that more than 11 billion doses are needed to immunize 70% of the global population. UN chief Antonio Guterres told the forum that this would be key to ending the acute phase of the pandemic.
The launch of the production of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V is expected in autumn, the Russian ambassador in Cairo Georgy Borisenko has said.
"In the fall, it is expected to launch the production of this highly effective product in Cairo after providing the necessary technology," the diplomat said in his article about Moscow-Cairo relations.
Sputnik has obtained a copy of the article.
In April, the Russian Direct Investment Fund has said that it signed an agreement with Egyptian company Minapharm on the production of over 40 million Sputnik V doses per year.
A new law requiring the public to hold a health pass to access bars and restaurants and health workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-September largely complies with the country's founding charter, France's constitutional court ruled on Thursday.
It added, however, that it would be unconstitutional to sack a health worker on a short-term contract who refuses a vaccine.
Moderna Inc. in a financial statement on Thursday said it believes the booster shot will be necessary as early as this fall while predicting we are going to see more breakthrough Delta infections in vaccinated people.
“We believe a booster (dose 3) is likely to be necessary this fall, particularly in the face of Delta,” the statement said. “We believe that increased force of infection resulting from Delta, non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) fatigue, and seasonal effects (moving indoors) will lead to an increase of breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals.”
In the statement, Moderna claims its vaccine remains highly effective (about 93 percent) over a period of 6 months after an individuals get their second dose.
Moderna’s revenue in the second quarter of 2021 made $4.4 billion with $4.2 billion coming from COVID-19 vaccine sales, according to the statement.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a moratorium on booster COVID-19 vaccine shots until the end of September to ensure equitable access to vaccines around the globe. The White House said that such a moratorium would be a “false choice” as both goals, helping poor countries with vaccines and booster vaccination, can be accomplished simultaneously.
The Beijing International Film Festival has been postponed due to new COVID-19 outbreaks in China, according to the event's official WeChat account.
"Due to the recent outbreaks of the epidemic in many areas of the country, the 11th Beijing International Film Festival, originally scheduled for 14-21 August, will be postponed for general safety and health reasons," the statement said.
The organizers have not announced for how long the festival will be put off.
The Russian film "Blockade Diary", directed by Andrey Zaitsev, is supposed to be presented during the main competition. The movie will be released in Russia in September.
The Beijing International Film Festival has been held annually since 2011 with the support of the Beijing government, China Media Group, Beijing City Cinematography Authority, and a number of other organizations. The so-called "Beijing Film Market" has become an integral part of the festival, where filmmakers from across the world gather to sign deals for the joint development, financing, production and distribution of movies. Over the past 10 years, the total amount of deals made at the festival has reached $25.2 billion.
China, which was the first to report the novel coronavirus in December 2019, has since managed to quickly and effectively curb the epidemic within the country. For a long time, there were practically no locally acquired COVID-19 cases, with most infections coming from abroad. However, the new outbreak, which began in mid-July at Nanjing International Airport, has spread to several other cities and provinces of China. This week a number of cities introduced new restrictions.
In total, the country has recorded over 105,000 COVID-19 cases, including 4,848 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
France is working on a mechanism that will enable vaccinated tourists from non-EU countries to obtain a COVID-19 heath pass, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, the state minister for tourism, said on Thursday.
"Our goal is that starting from 9 August, [non-EU] tourists who are on the territory of our country could receive health passes, using the same model as French people who are outside France. We will launch a mechanism that will meet such requirements," Lemoyne said as broadcast by France Inter.
Earlier in July, President Emmanuel Macron announced a number of new restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19, including the mandatory use of health passes — indicating either immunity against COVID-19 or a negative PCR test — in bars, restaurants, airplanes and long-distance trains starting August.
Against the backdrop of the Tokyo Olympic Games, Japan set a new record of over 15,000 daily COVID-19 infections, breaking the previous record of 14,200 cases that was registered just one day earlier, NHK broadcaster reported on Thursday.
Due to the surge in new infections, the Japanese government introduced a regime of enhanced anti-coronavirus measures in Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Hyogo, Kyoto and Fukuoka for the period between August 2-31, and also declared a state of emergency in Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa and Osaka.
In addition, pre-emergency measures were expanded to cover the prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Shizuoka, Aichi, Shiga and Kumamoto for the period between 8-31 August.
Russia registered 23,120 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, up from 22,589 the day before, taking the overall tally to 6,379,904, the federal response centre said on Thursday.
"Over the past day, 23,120 COVID-19 cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 2,017 cases (8.7%) without clinical symptoms," the centre said, adding that the rate of increase stands at 0.36%.
Moscow has the highest number of new cases with 3,227 daily infections, up from 2,502 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 1,911 cases, up from 1,906, and the Moscow region with 1,287 cases, down from 1,517.
The response centre reported 794 new deaths linked to the coronavirus, up from 790 the day before, raising the country's total death toll to 162,509.
In the same 24 hours, 20,370 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, up from 20,096 the day before, bringing the total to 5,700,212.
The Japanese capital of Tokyo, which is currently hosting the Olympic Games, registered a new single-day record of over 5,000 COVID-19 cases, Kyodo news agency reported on Thursday, citing sources in the government.
Just on Wednesday, Tokyo reported its previous record of 4,166 coronavirus cases.
Japan is experiencing a sharp increase in new infections. On Wednesday, the country registered its single-day record of 14,200 new cases.