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COVID digest: Paris bans 'Freedom Convoy' protest

February 10, 2022

The Canadian-inspired rally of motorists will be banned in the French capital. Elsewhere, the Philippines has reopened its borders to foreign travelers. DW has the latest.

Freedom Convoy France
Protesters in France are getting inspired by Canada as they protest against COVID restrictionsImage: Boutria Luc/MAXPPP/dpa/picture alliance

Police in Paris on Thursday announced a ban on a French version of the so-called "Freedom Convoy" of motorists protesting against the country’s coronavirus restrictions. Authorities will bar protesters from holding demonstrations in the French capital from February 11-14.

The convoy set out from southern France on Wednesday, aiming to converge on Paris and Brussels to demand an end to virus restrictions.

After officials in Paris announced the ban, the mayor of Brussels said the Belgian capital would also forbid the protest convoy. 

A total of six convoys have been organized so far. In addition to residents from Nice, people from Bayonne, Strasbourg and Cherbourg, among other cities, have taken part.

The French protests are the latest in a series of global demonstrations inspired by the Canadian truckers that have occupied the capital city of Ottawa.

A sizeable group of truck drivers has blocked a border crossing to protest a COVID-19 vaccine mandate imposed in January by Canada and the US.

Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:


Berlin’s 72nd International Film Festival has opened with a screening of French director François Ozon's "Peter von Kant" on Thursday. The film, notably set during a lockdown, is premiering at a pandemic-affected Berlinale as cinemas reduce capacities to 50%.

Meanwhile, Germany has reported 247,862 new infections, bringing the country’s total to 1,769,540 cases, according to the latest data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases. The death toll has risen to 238.

In the United Kingdom, Prince Charles, the eldest son and heir to Queen Elizabeth II, tested positive for COVID-19 and is isolating at home, his office said Thursday. 

Buckingham Palace said Charles met with the queen recently and would neither confirm nor deny if she contracted the coronavirus but did say she was not showing any symptoms. 

It is the second time Charles has tested positive for coronavirus, having experienced a mild bout of COVID-19 in March 2020. 

In France, diplomatic sources told Reuters French President Emmanuel Macron refused a Russian-administered PCR test in Moscow that was requested by the Kremlin ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week. As a result, the two leaders met across an exceptionally long table due to Kremlin COVID-19 protocols in place.

One member of Macron's entourage told Reuters: "We knew very well that meant no handshake and that long table. But we could not accept that they get their hands on the president's DNA."

Macron took a PCR test prior to departure and an antigen test on arrival in Moscow.


Authorities in Japan have extended virus-linked curbs into next month as the country’s biggest coronavirus wave shows signs of peaking. 

"While infections are still increasing, there's a relative slowing trend among working people in their 20s and 30s," top medical adviser Shigeru Omi told reporters, adding that health centers are shifting focus to the elderly and those at risk of developing serious illness.

Meanwhile, Japan's Health Ministry has said it will approve a pill to treat COVID-19 developed by US drugmaker Pfizer. Officials are expected to expedite final approval for use using emergency approval measures. 

The Philippines has opened its borders to foreign travelers after one of the world's longest virus-induced lockdowns. 

Travelers from 157 countries with visa-free arrangements with the Philippines will not be required to quarantine upon arrival as long as they are fully vaccinated and have tested negative for the virus. 

The COVAX vaccine-sharing program has reduced the number of doses allocated for North Korea as the country fails to arrange for any shipments. The number of doses earmarked for Pyongyang now stands at 1.54 million, down from 8.11 million last year.

Last year, the country rejected planned shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns over side effects. It remains unclear whether North Korea has imported any vaccines against COVID.

South Korea has announced a change to its COVID strategy, pushing all patients with mild symptoms to treat themselves. The move is expected to free up medical resources for more serious cases as new infections hit a new high.

Starting Thursday, authorities will only provide care to virus-19 patients aged 60 and older or those with underlying conditions, while others will be required to monitor themselves and seek medical help from designated clinics if their conditions worsen.

Hong Kong has recorded a sharp increase in vaccination rates amongst the elderly after the omicron variant of the virus fueled a new spike in infections. 

The rise in vaccinations has also been aided by the introduction of a vaccine pass — starting February 24 — that will be a requirement for everyone who wants to shop, eat out or use public facilities.


Tonga has recorded 31 more COVID infections, doubling its active cases to 64. This is the Pacific island nation's first community outbreak and tests attributed it to the contagious omicron variant. 

Tonga had successfully restricted the number of infections to just a single case. But a massive eruption of an undersea volcano and the resulting tsunami caused Tonga to open its borders to critical international aid

Authorities in New Zealand have arrested more than 120 protesters after closing a protest camp outside the country's parliament. 

"Police continue to have a significant presence at the ongoing protest on Parliament grounds," Superintendent Corrie Parnell said in a statement. "Parliament grounds were officially closed this morning however a number of protesters are still refusing repeated requests to leave the precinct."


The World Health Organization's (WHO) regional Africa office has said the number of COVID-19 infections in Africa could be seven times higher than official data shows, due to lack of access to testing and underreporting of cases. Deaths from the virus could be two to three times higher.

"We're very much aware that surveillance systems problems that we had on the continent, with access to testing supplies, for example, have led to an underestimation of the cases," the WHO's Africa director, Matshidiso Moeti, told an online media briefing Thursday.

Tunisia is lifting the night curfew it imposed last month from Thursday. However, a ban on gatherings and demonstrations will extend for one more week.

see/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)