Euronews 7 Jan 2021

'Better late than sorry': Sweden introduces masks on public transport


Authorities in Sweden are recommending face masks should be worn in public transport during peak times. Up until now, the country has resisted imposing the use of face coverings in the fight against COVID-19, except in healthcare. But there are signs the government is now taking tougher action.

House members will now be fined if they do not wear masks on the House floor. This comes after 3 Democrats tested positive for coronavirus after the Capitol Hill insurrection. Aired on 01/12/2021.
Countries across Europe are introducing a new round of coronavirus restrictions. They're coming either just before Christmas or soon after. Italy is the latest country to announce new measures. Shops, bars and restaurants there will close, and travel between different regions will be banned. Similar precautions are being taken across the continent.
Germany is seeing shuttered shops and empty streets, as the country goes into its first weekend of hard lockdown this winter.
Austria will follow suit just after Christmas. Non-essential businesses will close on December 26. Austria's coronavirus infection rate is lower than many of its neighbors, but there are fears that could change.
Sweden's infection rate, on the other hand, has been surging for two months. The Nordic country never imposed a full lockdown, relying instead on voluntary social distancing.
But with case numbers going up, non-essential public facilities like pools and libraries will close, and - for the first time - the government is recommending residents wear masks on public transport. Yet the measures remain lax compared to Germany and Austria.
Switzerland, too, is headed for lockdown as restaurants are set to close next week. The Swiss government has urged people to stay inside.
But it has left at least one decision to local authorities: whether to open ski lifts. This year, skiers will have to add COVID-19 to the long list of alpine hazards.
German health departments reported 31,300 new cases on Friday and 702 fatalities related to COVID-19. Over 25-thousand people have now died of the disease in Germany.
In France the toll has passed sixty thousand. President Emmanuel Macron is asking people to remain vigilant after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Australia has put parts of Sydney under lockdown to bring under control a cluster near the city's northern beaches. People may leave their homes only for work, care, exercise or basic necessities.

Meanwhile, a second COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use in the United States. Millions of doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to be added to the massive American vaccination program, which began this week with healthcare workers. Older people in long-term care facilities are next in line. The approval comes one week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer.
President Biden's COVID-19 plan will invoke the Defense Production Act to address personal protective equipment and vaccine shortages and require people to wear masks on public transportation, among other measures. Emergency care physician Dr. Ron Elfenbein spoke with Anne-Marie Green and Vladimir Duthiers on CBSN about the president's push to open schools, the vaccine rollout around the country and new research into the effectiveness of vaccines against variants of the coronavirus.
As authorities in southern Germany and in Austria make FFP2 masks mandatory on public transport and in shops, we ask an expert what difference these masks make.

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