September 2, 2021

Europe

EUROPE: Managing the pandemic – what we are watching

BY Andrius Tursa, Antonio Barroso, Luis Cornago, Wolfango Piccoli

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( 5 mins)

This updated weekly piece provides snapshots of how selected European governments are dealing with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you want to discuss any of the countries mentioned in more detail.

Graph of the week

EUROPE: Managing the pandemic – what we are watching 1

EUROPE: Managing the pandemic – what we are watching 2

Spain

– Daily cases have continued to drop in the last week and stand at around 6,600. Hospitalizations due to Covid-19 are also declining, but deaths are still rising.

– More than 70% of the population has gone through a full vaccination cycle. Regarding third doses, the government is planning to deliver booster shots exclusively to the immunosuppressed at this stage.

– During a negotiation with trade unions and employers, the PSOE-Unidas Podemos government has proposed to increase the minimum wage by 1.58% immediately, which would take it to EUR 965, before raising it to EUR 996 in 2022 and 1,027 in 2023. A final decision on the exact amount of the increase is expected next week.

France

– Daily cases are still decreasing, with the seven-day average at 15,713 infections. Hospitalizations and deaths due to Covid-19 are also going down.

– The pace of vaccinations remains stable at more than 410,000 daily jabs, and 66% of the population has completed a full vaccination cycle. The government has launched two initiatives to vaccinate the 15% of individuals from the over-80 cohort that still have not received the jab.

– The government has started to wind down some of the crisis support measures put in place during the pandemic. For example, from 1 October, the Solidarity Fund for businesses will be replaced by a scheme allowing companies in sectors badly battered by the pandemic to cover most of their fixed costs.

Italy

– Sicily turned from low-risk white to moderate risk yellow on 30 August to curb a surge in cases and hospitalizations. It was the first time the government has had to re-tighten rules in any region since late June. But Sardinia and Calabria may follow it into yellow as their ICU and hospitalization rates are over the critical thresholds.

– Even though the vaccination campaign slowed down significantly over the summer, authorities remain confident about meeting the goal of vaccinating 80% of the eligible population by the end of September. At present, around 70% of Italians over 12 have completed the vaccination cycle.

– Italy broadened usage of its Green Pass on 1 September, making it obligatory for anyone traveling on high-speed trains, planes, ferries, and inter-regional coaches. Protests against the Green Pass in railway stations registered a paltry turnout.

Greece

– Infection levels spiked in August to the highest level recorded in the country so far, and pressure on hospitals has been building in recent weeks. At the same time, the vaccination program went through a summer lull. As a result, just 54.5% of the total population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases is just above 3,000.

– Staff at public hospitals have held protests around the country on 1 September – the deadline to comply with a vaccination mandate for health care workers or face suspension without pay. Recent figures suggest that around 20% of medical staff is unvaccinated, raising concerns about shortages in the autumn.

– Following a poorly executed cabinet reshuffle, the ruling New Democracy party is expected to announce the appointment of a political head for the newly created civil protection ministry within the next few days. The ministry was set up in response to the growing civil protection challenges, such as the pandemic, as well as ever-more threatening natural disasters.

Poland

– The epidemiological situation remains largely favorable, but new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are gradually rising. The government anticipates a sharper rise in infections in mid-September.

– Third “booster” vaccine doses for persons with immune system disorders will become available in the next few days. The government is also launching a three-week vaccination campaign in schools.

– Inflation rose by an estimated 5.4% year-on-year in August – the fastest pace since 2001. Rising prices are prompting debates on whether the country’s central bank will start its monetary tightening cycle in November.

Hungary

– The seven-day rolling average of new cases jumped from 97 to 170 during the past week but remains comparatively low. The Delta strain comprises around 90% of all new infections, and the Chief Medical Officer has warned that the country is on the verge of a fourth wave of the pandemic.

– The government has extended the deadline for the compulsory vaccination of healthcare staff by two weeks until 15 September. Unvaccinated healthcare professionals could face dismissals, although authorities are unlikely to pursue such tough measures due to persistent medical staff shortages.

– Concerns about the potential influx of refugees from Afghanistan could boost the ruling Fidesz’s electoral campaign ahead of the general vote in spring 2022.

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