Austria's parliament has passed a new law making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for adults - the first European country to approve such a measure. Only 72 percent of Austrians are currently fully vaccinated against the coronavirus - one of the lowest rates in western Europe.
Spain, meanwhile has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, and it's now considering a pandemic exit strategy. The government says it's time to start treating COVID-19 like any other endemic seasonal respiratory disease. It might be a view that resounds with the Spanish public, but it doesn't yet have the backing of the experts.
Germany has reported a record number of new coronavirus infections – more than 140,000 in a single day. That's 48,000 more new cases than this time last week.
France will begin to lift COVID-19 restrictions on February 2nd thanks to what are being called 'encouraging signs' that the wave of Omicron variant infections is ebbing.
And the World Bank has approved a 750-million dollar loan to South Africa aimed at helping the poor, it says, recover from the effects of the pandemic.
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