France to ease Covid restrictions from Monday

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Fully vaccinated people in France who test positive will from Monday have to isolate for just seven days, down from ten, and can leave quarantine after five days if they show a negative test.

Coronavirus cases have surged globally in recent weeks, fuelled by the emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

France became the sixth country in the world to report more than 10 million Covid-19 infections since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to official data published on Saturday.

Under the new rules, fully vaccinated French people who test positive will be obliged to isolate for just seven days, and can leave quarantine after five days if they show a negative test.

The change in rules should allow a "benefit-risk balance aimed at ensuring the virus is controlled while maintaining socio-economic life," the French health ministry said.

People who test positive for the virus -- but who are not fully vaccinated -- must complete a 10-day quarantine, according to the same rules, but shortened to seven should they present a positive antigen or negative PCR test.

The seven-day quarantine remains for close unvaccinated contacts, who must show a negative test to leave isolation.

Meanwhile, the French parliament is on Monday to begin the final phase of discussions over transforming the health pass into a vaccine pass, with a review by the Senate due on Wednesday.

Europe setting tragic records

Europe had registered a total of 100 million confirmed cases by Saturday.

According to official figures, 17 out of 52 countries or territories in Europe are currently reporting more cases in a single week than at any previous stage of the pandemic.

The countries with the highest ratio of infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the world were all in Europe too, with Denmark showing the worst figure of 2,045.

However, some studies have sparked hope that Omicron does not cause Covid as severe as the Delta variant, with some governments factoring that into their decisions to ease curbs.

But the World Health Organization has warned of trying times ahead, saying Omicron could lead to "a tsunami of cases" because of its high transmissibility.

Rage and raves

Populations in many parts of the world have grown increasingly weary of restrictions, sparking regular protests and defiance in some countries.

Dutch police on Saturday broke up a rave in breach of Covid rules that was attended by hundreds in a disused factory, local media reported.

Dozens of police officers entered the makeshift venue in the central town of Rijswijk with hundreds more mobilised to shepherd people away, local television reported.

The illegal rave attracted people from far and wide with vehicles from France and Germany but also from as far away as Spain and Italy.

In the German city of Stuttgart, an estimated 100 activists attempted to stage an unauthorised protest against Covid vaccines and restrictions.

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