Protests erupted in some parts of Europe Saturday over restrictions on handling the spread of the flu, the usual hot button political issue for national elections in 2018.
Germany put a new rule in place in the eastern border states that will limit how far private hospitals and public hospitals can transport patients across the eastern border.
In addition, a historic skating rink in Berlin closed for several hours Friday night to keep hordes of visiting tourists away from the strains of public workers saluting the victims of an outbreak of the virus.
The nation’s first influenza case was reported in Germany on Oct. 9, triggered by an outbreak in Italy, where hundreds of people had to be hospitalized as a result of the flu outbreak. German doctors and other health care workers had already been restricted in their treatment of flu patients due to the change in policy affecting eastern Germany.
The flu outbreak in Italy — though minor compared to the magnitude of the flu pandemic of 2009 in the United States — created major disruption to public services for many weeks this year. About 70 million people in Italy were affected by the infections in the autumn, and about 60,000 have died from the flu outbreak.
Even as Italy and Germany sought to mitigate the effects of the influenza outbreaks, Swedes were given the boot from a major health care system, saying their health care didn’t meet public health standards in the social safety net system in Sweden, the Scandinavian country’s largest provider of public health care. In response, Swedish patients were given free rides back and forth from their homes to and from public hospitals in the cities and towns of the western regions of the country, where the national health care system was based.
Alarm over the outbreak of the H3N2 virus on German states that include Saxony-Anhalt and Baden-Württemberg deepened throughout the week. Health care workers on the Friday before last could not bring patients who had come in from neighboring eastern German states. Those nurses had been forcibly stripped, locked in a holding room for about 10 hours until they started vomiting and bleeding.
The German National Health Agency on Tuesday announced that it had accepted a review from a board appointed by the federal government on the epidemic and recommended that hospital visitors from the outside states and airline passengers departing for these states should no longer be allowed in the emergency department.
It also said that the influenza vaccine won’t protect against flu this year because the virus has evolved differently than normal. Some of the nation’s health care workers have therefore been restricted from taking patients without restrictions for life, though others will be allowed into patient rooms.
All German children are now required to be vaccinated in the middle of next week against the seasonal flu, the federal health agency announced on Tuesday. It said that it was uncertain if the current vaccine mix will have enough of the strain to be effective.
Some countries are changing their business policy to avoid confrontations with EU members. Croatia did so in all its highways to its EU member state neighbour, Serbia, where there has been a serious outbreak of flu recently, including a death. It also ordered via Europol that all public and private ports along its border with Serbia and Bulgaria.