In France, every child is now obliged to have 11 vaccinations. If parents want their children to attend school, or take part in many extracurricular activities, they must accept. There is no opt-out or concessions made to vaccine doubters.
On Monday France’s government and health authorities are speeding up the country’s Covid-19 vaccine drive – a process complicated by widespread scepticism about the inoculation that has encompassed the usual global conspiracy theories.
For weeks, polls have suggested up to 60% of the French population do not wish to be vaccinated. As the government’s vaccine operation enters its third week, official figures show that as of Saturday at least 93,000 people had been given the jab – a much lower number than elsewhere in Europe, including the UK, Germany and Italy:
More now on the opposition to the Tokyo Olympics:
The Kyodo poll results show a hardening of opposition to the Olympics among the Japanese public, despite repeated claims by the organisers, the IOC and government officials that it will be possible to host a “Covid- safe” Games under plans to be released in the spring.
But with the vaccine rollout in Japan expected to start several months later than those in the US, Britain and other European countries, doubts are growing about the wisdom of allowing 11,000 athletes, as well as large numbers of officials and other Games-related staff to enter Japan. No decision has been made on whether to admit overseas sports fans.
Concern that the Games may have to be called off has spread to the organising committee itself, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
“The Tokyo Olympics could be canceled if the state of emergency is not lifted by March,” a Tokyo 2020 official told the newspaper. Another Olympic-related official cited the difficulty in winning over the public when medical workers are struggling to cope with an influx of Covid patients in the capital.
The IOC’s official line is that the Games will go ahead as planned, but last week, the organisation’s longest-serving member, Dick Pound, said he was uncertain about Tokyo 2020’s prospects. “I can’t be certain because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus,” Pound told the BBC.
About 80% of people in Japan are against holding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer, amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the host city and other parts of Japan.
A weekend poll by the Kyodo news agency found that 35.3% wanted the Games to be cancelled, while 44.8% favoured another delay. Local organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have said that it will not be possible to postpone a second time.
The Games, which are due to open on 23 July, were delayed by a yeardue to the Covid pandemic.
The survey was conducted as experts warned that the recent rise in cases was putting hospitals under extreme pressure, forcing the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, to bow to pressure from the governors of Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures to declare a state of emergencythat will last until at least early February.
Suga’s handling of the pandemic since he took office four months ago has seen his approval ratings fall 9 percentage points since December to just 41.3%. The poll found that disapproval of Suga stood at 42.8%, with “lack of leadership” over the pandemic the most commonly cited reason.
The daily tally of infections in Japan exceeded 7,000 for the third day in a row on Saturday, although the country’s cumulative death toll, at just over 4,000, is much lower than those in many other countries.
Ministers were under pressure on Sunday night to escalate the current lockdown in England amid warnings that current measures may not be tough enough.
They came as the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said about 2 million people – including about a third of people over the age of 80 – had already been vaccinated, and the opening of the mass vaccination sites is intended to accelerate the process.
More than half a million people over the age of 80 are to receive letters inviting them to attend one of seven large coronavirus vaccination centres opening in England, where they will be able to book an appointment online or over the phone.
But, in an interview on Sunday, Hancock also said that, with hospital cases and deaths still rising sharply, the NHS was “probably under the greatest pressure it ever has been”:
Nearly half of England’s headteachers are being forced to prioritise class places among vulnerable students and the children of key workers because of a huge increase in demand, according to a survey of school leaders.
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), which carried out the survey, said the government’s “confused” messages to parents on school attendance risks defeating its aim of suppressing the virus:
Small businesses and manufacturers in the UK are bracing themselves for a fight for survival this year, according to fresh survey data, as they negotiate the twin threats of Covid-19 and weaker post-Brexit trade with the EU.
More than 250,000 small firms expect to fold without further government financial support, according to a quarterly poll by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
Manufacturers’ trade body Make UK said its members expected lower investment in the UK and to have a harder time recruiting talent: