Italy will enact new rules that will make vaccination compulsory for everyone over 50 because of the increasing cases of the Omicron variant in the country
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Everyone in Italy over 50 must have a Covid vaccine as the government makes it mandatory to combat the surge in cases.
Italy, which was badly hit at the beginning of the first Covid wave in Europe and has now more than 138,000 deaths from the virus, is said to impose vaccination requirements after a cabinet meeting.
The measure, which is one of the strictest in Europe for vaccinations, comes into force immediately and runs until June 15.
The government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi had already made vaccination compulsory for teachers and health workers, and since October last year all employees have had to be vaccinated or submit a negative test before entering the workplace.
Refusal leads to unpaid incapacity for work, but not to dismissal.
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Wednesday’s decree exacerbates this for workers over 50 by removing the option of having a test instead of a vaccination. It was not immediately clear what sanctions would apply to those who break the rule.
“Today’s measures are aimed at ensuring that our hospitals function well while schools and business activities remain open,” Draghi told the cabinet, according to its spokesman.
Right-wing league ministers issued a statement distancing themselves from the vaccination rule over 50, calling it “scientifically unrelated, considering the absolute majority of people hospitalized with Covid are well over 60”.
In other parts of Europe, Austria has announced that it will introduce compulsory vaccination for people over the age of 14 from next month, while in Greece it will be compulsory for people over 60 from January 16.
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The UK on Wednesday confirmed an additional 194,747 new Covid cases, with concerns growing over the number of people being isolated and missing out on their jobs.
The numbers also confirmed that 334 people died within 28 days of testing positive. It’s a huge 696% increase from yesterday’s deaths and a 586% increase from the 57 deaths recorded on Wednesday last week.
A total of 15,659 patients are hospitalized in England with Covid – a number that has increased 49% from week to week.
It is the highest number of hospital admissions since February 17, 2021.