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Angela Merkel has said travellers from the UK should be quarantined wherever they arrive in the EU, as the union’s agency for disease control forecast that the Delta variant of Covid will account for 90% of cases in member states by the end of August.

Ahead of Thursday’s summit with fellow EU leaders, the German chancellor said she wanted better coordination to fight the spread of the highly transmissible variant that has surfaced strongly in the UK and is now bedding down in the bloc.

“In our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine – and that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see,” Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

Merkel has criticised Portugal in recent days, where the entry of British tourists is permitted without quarantine. The French government also allows double vaccinated travellers from the UK to enter the country without going into isolation.

Merkel’s call for a uniform policy on UK travellers came as Dr Andrea Ammon, the director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), said the Delta variant was likely to spread widely among young people this summer, and warned people with a single jab that they were at risk.

In a sombre statement at a time when many EU countries are looking to relax restrictions and facilitate travel through a Covid passport, Ammon said there remained too many people in the more vulnerable age groups in the union who were not fully vaccinated.

The ECDC’s modelling suggests that without maintenance of the current Covid restrictions and a sharp acceleration in vaccination, there is likely to be a wave of infection, deaths and hospitalisation similar to that experienced last autumn.

Ammon called on younger people who may not have received their full complement of jabs to strictly keep to social distancing regulations. She added that the EU’s public health authorities should accelerate their vaccination efforts to save lives as the ECDC published its risk assessment of the Delta variant.

The ECDC’s latest published data suggests that 33.9% of adults in the EU/EEA are fully vaccinated, and 57.1% have had at least a single dose.

“The Delta variant is more transmissible than other circulating variants and we estimate that by the end of August it will represent 90% of all Sars-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the European Union,” Ammon said. “Unfortunately, preliminary data shows that it can also infect individuals that have received only one dose of the currently available vaccines.

“It is very likely that the Delta variant will circulate extensively during the summer, particularly among younger individuals that are not targeted for vaccination. This could cause a risk for the more vulnerable individuals to be infected and experience severe illness and death if they are not fully vaccinated.”

Ammon, a former adviser to the German government, said the positive news was that two doses of all the available vaccines in Europe provided “high protection against this variant and its consequences. However, about 30% of individuals older than 80 years and about 40% of individuals older than 60 years have not yet received a full vaccination course in the European Union.”

The Delta variant, which has slowed down the UK’s reopening, is believed to be 40% to 60% more transmissible than the original virus and is thought to be associated with higher risk of hospitalisation.

The ECDC’s modelling suggests 70% of new Covid infections will be due to this variant in European economic area by early August and 90% of infections by the end of that month.

The EU agency has further modelled that a 50% reduction in non-pharmaceutical interventions by September, such as permitting the staging of large events, will lead to an increase of infection across all age groups.

Ammon said the variant put the cumulative efforts to control the pandemic at risk and required “immediate actions” from national authorities.

She said: “There are still too many individuals at risk of severe Covid-19 infection whom we need to protect as soon as possible. Until most of the vulnerable individuals are protected, we need to keep the circulation of the Delta virus low by strictly adhering to public health measures, which worked for controlling the impact of other variants.

“It is very important to progress with the vaccine rollout at a very high pace. At this stage it becomes crucial that the second vaccination dose is administered within the minimum authorised interval from the first dose, to speed up the rate at which vulnerable individuals become protected.”

Ammon added: “I am aware that it requires a significant effort from public health authorities and the society at large to achieve this goal. “But now is the time to walk the extra mile. We have several safe and effective vaccines available and every single infection prevented now through our compliance with public health measures, is a life that can be saved by vaccination.” By Daniel Boffey in Brussels, Guardian/Yahoo News

 

The European Union has started the process to lift sanctions on Burundi, local media reported Tuesday.

The EU imposed sanctions on Burundi in 2015 at the height of a political crisis in the East African country following late President Pierre Nkurunziza's extension of tenure, which triggered protests.

At the end of May this year, the EU working groups unanimously directed the EU judicial institutions to revoke the suspension of financial aid to the Burundian government, EU Ambassador to Burundi Claude Bochu told local press.

This came after his meeting with Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

Bochu said the decision was reached after seeing positive progress under the new administration headed by Ndayishimiye in terms of promoting governance, rule of law and human rights.

Noting that the EU expects more positive results, Bochu said that the EU together with other partners such as the African Development Bank would finance the rehabilitation of the Port of Bujumbura and its surrounding areas before the end of this year, and contribute funds to the farming sector.

The East African Community (EAC) bloc had recently appealed to the EU to lift sanctions on Burundi, saying the country is ready to move forward.

EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki said the sanctions were hurting Burundians as well as the people of the entire East African region.

The EAC bloc brings together Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. - James Tasamba, Anadolu Agency

Dinka Malual paramount chief Dut Majak (L), Rizeigat Omda Mohammed Banani (R) unveil the signed resolutions before the peace delegates at South Sudan Hotel in Nyamlel, Aweil West County on 18 June, 2021. Photo: Radio Tamazuj

 

The Dinka Malual, Luo, and Rizeigat communities along the border areas between South Sudan and Sudan last Friday concluded a three-day post-migration peace conference by signing an agreement stating their commitment to promote peace in the region.

The conference which took place in Nyamlel of Aweil East County of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State takes place every year during the dry season as the Arab Rizeigat pastoralists who have been grazing in parts of South Sudan return to their areas in neighboring Sudan.

The participants signed an agreement with about 16 resolutions to promote peaceful coexistence and contain crime before during and after migration.

Some of the resolutions signed include the exact time for migration before which a three weeks notice will be given, 31 cows to be paid as blood compensation for murder cases, prohibition of the burning of bushes, and killing of wild animals. 

Anguei Noon Atak, a Dinka Malual paramount chief in Aweil North County told Radio Tamazuj that the conference was successful.

“The conference sessions went well and we agreed to solve the blood compensations for a specified time. All sides will have to pay compensation in their jurisdiction," he said.

The Rizeigat paramount chief, Idam Abubaker Ismail said this particular conference was different from previous ones as it included sports and social functions bringing all the communities together.

He said, “truly, this peace conference is different from the previous conference because there are a lot of sports and social engagements. These will improve the long-standing relations between Dinka Malual and Rizeigat.”    

For his part, Chan Bak Yaja, the paramount chief of the Luo community in Aweil Center County appreciated the national and state governments involved in the peace initiative for their efforts to promote peaceful coexistence in the border region.

“I think the peace conference between Dinka Malual, Rizeigat, and the Luo has ended peacefully after three days and nobody got sick, and there were no quarrels among the people," he added.

Meanwhile, the Northern Bahr el Ghazal State peace coordinator, William Kolong Pioth hailed the community leaders at the conference for openly discussing the issues and finding solutions to them.

Representing the peace partners, Maria Inecita Montero, the head of civil affairs division and acting head of UNMISS field office in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State said the conference was a success. 

”On behalf of the peace partners, I would say that this conference has achieved its primary objective of bringing the Rizeigat, the Dinka Malual, and the Luo communities together to discuss some issues affecting them during the migration season. Yes, they have, and that why we have the resolutions signed by both parties and that they were able to identify those key issues and come up with the way forward in terms of the agreement on how to resolve those issues," she pointed out.

Over 70 delegates from the Dinka Malual, the Luo, and the Rizeigat communities, government officials, and other guests attended the conference organized by the Northern Bahr el Ghazal State ministry of peacebuilding and funded by UNMISS, UNDP, FAO, VSF, and SAFER WORLD. - Radio Tamazuj

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