Coronavirus live news: France health worker vaccine mandate comes into effect; healthcare rationing ‘imminent’ for Idaho

The Guardian - Wed Sep 15 05:50

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France health worker vaccine mandate comes into effect

The French government faces a stand-off with tens of thousands of health workers and carers Wednesday over a new rule requiring them to receive a Covid-19 vaccine or face suspension without pay, AFP reports.

Starting Wednesday, hospital staff, ambulance drivers, retirement home workers, private doctors, fire service members and people caring for the elderly or infirm in their homes - some 2.7 million people in total - must be able to prove they have had at least one shot of a vaccine.

President Emmanuel Macron issued the ultimatum two months ago, but tens of thousands of carers remain unvaccinated.

One of France’s biggest public sector unions, the hardline CGT, has warned of a “health catastrophe” if the government suspends large numbers of health workers and bars private-sector doctors from practising.

Defiant health workers have joined opponents of a new coronavirus “health pass” required for entry to restaurants, cafes and museums at weekly protests held across France in the past two months.

On Tuesday, a few hundred people attended a union-led demonstration outside the health ministry in Paris.

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Healthcare rationing ‘imminent’ for Idaho

Idaho’s public health officials say crisis standards of care are imminent for the state’s most populated region as hospitals continue to be overrun with unvaccinated coronavirus patients, AP reports.

The southwestern and southern Idaho regions that include Boise and Twin Falls may get official authorisation to begin rationing health care — a step intended to ensure the patients most likely to survive are given access to scarce resources like intensive care unit beds — any day now, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said Tuesday.

“We continue to set new records each week,” said Jeppesen about coronavirus hospitalizations. “We do not see a peak in sight.”

Hospitals in the northern half of the state were given permission to begin rationing care last week, when Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene was forced to begin treating some patients in a field hospital set up in a conference center instead of regular hospital rooms.

“Nearly all the metrics we track are trending in the wrong direction,” when it comes to coronavirus, deputy state epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner said.

On Sept. 11, the state had more than 600 patients hospitalised with Covid, far beyond last winter’s peak when 466 people were hospitalised. Coronavirus patients in intensive care units and on ventilators are also setting record highs in the state. The vast majority of them — more than 91% — are not vaccinated against coronavirus.

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Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coronavirus coverage.

The French government faces a stand-off with tens of thousands of health workers and carers Wednesday over a new rule requiring them to receive a Covid-19 vaccine or face suspension without pay.

Starting Wednesday, hospital staff, ambulance drivers, retirement home workers, private doctors, fire service members and people caring for the elderly or infirm in their homes - some 2.7 million people in total - must be able to prove they have had at least one shot of a vaccine.

Meanwhile Idaho’s public health officials say crisis standards of care are imminent for the state’s most populated region as hospitals continue to be overrun with unvaccinated coronavirus patients.

More on these stories shortly. In the meantime here are the other key recent developments:

  • The WHO warned that Africa has been left behind the rest of the world because of vaccine inequality, with its head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying rich countries and pharmaceuticals have held up efforts to fairly distribute vaccines.
  • The Russian president, Vladimir Putin is self-isolating after cases of coronavirus were detected among close contacts. The Kremlin has said that he will no longer travel to Tajikistan this week as planned for regional security meetings and will instead do them by video conference. He will self-isolate for “a certain period”, the Kremlin said.
  • Turkey reported its highest number of cases since May and a near-record 276 deaths.
  • A WHO official said the vaccine hub established in South Africa may need a year to replicate the Moderna vaccine, as talks with the company on sharing information have not progressed.
  • Mauritius is battling an explosion of coronavirus cases. Hospitals are overwhelmed, ventilators in short supply and cemeteries are running out of space.
  • The UK vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, has said he is hopeful that the over-50s booster campaign will be the “last piece of the jigsaw” for ending lockdowns, as the government announced its winter plan for dealing with the coronavirus. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said it hoped the boosters would top up immunity. MRNA vaccines are being recommended, regardless of which vaccine was originally administered.
  • Sierra Leone has ended a curfew in place since early July after infections dropped to single figures over the past few weeks.
  • A Republican governor in the US, Kim Reynolds, has said she will appeal a temporary order by a federal judge allowing schools in Iowa to make face masks mandatory amid coronavirus. Meanwhile, in Florida, governor Ron DeSantis has threatened to fine cities and counties that force employees to get coronavirus vaccines.