How Is The World Responding To The COVID-19 Pandemic?
Many countries have started to ease pandemic measures and restrictions around the world. However, as novel variants emerge, circulate, and create new waves of infection, it is hardly possible to say that we are nearing the end of the pandemic. The pandemic response around the world still differs substantially and continue to fluctuate as the virus continues to evolve. Getting informed on the current state of pandemic responses around the world could help you travel with ease. Read along to find out about the current pandemic responses around the world including vaccination rates, masking policies, stay-at-home policies, testing policies, and restrictions on internal and external travel.
What share of the global population has been vaccinated against COVID-19?
As of May 15, 2022, 65.4% of the global population has received at least one dose of vaccine against COVID-19. Although the total number of vaccines administered worldwide has reached 11.65 billion doses, data suggests that 84.3% of the population in low-income countries remains completely unvaccinated. In the US, around 78% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine, and 67% of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The UK exhibits similar statistics with more than 78% of its population being at least partly vaccinated, and 73% being fully vaccinated. Many countries in South America have also vaccinated most of their populations, thus reaching a continental ratio of around 84%.
While it somewhat depreciates within countries such as Slovakia (≈52%), Croatia (≈57%) , Poland (≈60%), and Slovenia (≈61%) the share of vaccinated people within the European Union generally remains high. In total, data suggests that around 76% of the people living within the EU have been vaccinated, almost 74% of which have been fully vaccinated. By vaccinating more than 92% of its population, Malta has the highest share of vaccinated citizens within the EU. To exemplify further, around 88% of the Spanish population, 84% of the Italian population, 81% of the French population, and 77% of the German population have been vaccinated.
In Asia, around 75% of the population has received at least one vaccine against COVID-19, and approximately 69% of the population has been fully vaccinated. Countries such as Japan (≈82%), China (≈89%), and Singapore (≈92%) have vaccinated most of their populations, while in Russia the ratio is relatively lower (≈55%). In the Middle East, countries such as the United Arab Emirates (≈99%), Kuwait (≈80%), Iran (≈76%), and Saudi Arabia (≈75%) have high vaccination ratios, while Yemen (≈2.2%), Syria (≈14%) and Afghanistan (≈13%) have some of the lowest vaccination ratios in the world. The severely low rates of vaccination and the lack of vaccine availability are also very concerning in many African countries, such as South Sudan (≈5.8%), Niger (≈8.7%), Nigeria (≈13%), and Chad (≈13%).
Have schools and workplaces been reopening around the world?
Although there might be regional differences in regulations, in many countries around the world the schools have been partially or fully reopened. Within the EU, countries such as France and Germany have introduced testing and contact tracing within schools, while some countries including Spain, obliged the use of face masks. In England, all obligatory COVID-19 measures applied within schools have recently been removed, while in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales some restrictions remain. In the US, schools have been partially reopened. Moreover, an increasing number of public and private schools that comply with the safety protocol are participating in progressive expansion to face-to-face education. In Asia, several countries including Indonesia and Japan have allowed the reopening of schools, although the governments recommended online education. On the other hand, schools for all levels of education remain closed in China, Iran, and Pakistan.
In many countries within the EU, workplaces have also been reopened. In France and Germany, the government recommended working from home, but removed the obligatory closure of workplaces. In the UK, Canada, Norway, and Sweden, all measures concerning workplace closure have been lifted. In Russia and the US, the measures became exclusive to certain sectors or categories of workers, while in China, Iran, and Turkmenistan, they continued to be applied in all cases except for essential workplaces.
What are the government policies on masking around the world?
Most European countries have eased their masking policies. The Netherlands and the UK have lifted the masking requirement completely. In France, Belgium, Germany, and Spain, the mask requirement has been removed except for public transportation and healthcare facilities. In Russia and the US, the mask requirement is still in place for all public spaces. In certain countries such as Pakistan and China, wearing a mask is always a required for anywhere outside the home.
Have the restrictions on public events and gatherings been lifted?
In Russia, the government recommends the cancellation of some public events and imposes restrictions on public gatherings involving more than 100 people. In many European countries such as the UK, France, and Germany, the restrictions on public events and gatherings have been completely removed. In the US, although some public events are still restricted, there is no restriction for public gatherings of any size. On the other hand, in China, there are strict restrictions on both public events and public gatherings.
What are current stay-at-home measures applied around the world?
Although in some countries the government recommends staying at home as much as possible, stay-at-home measures are no longer applied as a requirement in the US, Australia, and within Europe. Stricter measures are applied in some countries including Russia, India, and China. In Russia and India, it is allowed to leave the house for essential activities such as daily exercise and grocery shopping. China has stricter stay-at-home measures that have very few exceptions.
What are the current restrictions on domestic and international travel?
In Europe, some countries including the UK, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark have completely removed their pandemic-related travel restrictions. In many other European countries such as Germany and France, the governments require the EU Digital COVID certificate or equivalent certificate. In the absence of this certificate, some countries accept proof of vaccination, proof of recovery, or a negative test result. Travel restrictions may also differ in accordance to the risk level of the area of departure. The Russian government is gradually removing its international travel restrictions, although some measures such as testing remain in practice. International travel to China from some countries is currently suspended. You may also need to demonstrate your vaccination status, undergo testing prior to and following your travel, and comply with quarantine measurements. In most European countries including the UK, Italy, Sweden, Spain, and France, there are currently no restrictions on internal travel. In some parts of the US, Australia, and China, government restrictions on internal travel remain in practice.
Is the use of COVID-19 rapid antigen test kit mandatory for entry to countries and air travel?
Testing requirements for travelers differ substantially around the globe. Within the EU and 40 non-EU countries, the EU Digital COVID Certificate enables free travel. The certificate covers a vaccination certificate, a test certificate, and a recovery certificate. Anyone can obtain a test certificate regardless of their vaccination status. The test certificate can be obtained either by a negative PCR test result obtained no more than 72 hours, or a negative rapid antigen test result obtained no more than 24 hours before travelling. However, as each member state has the right to decide whether it accepts rapid antigen tests alongside NAAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test) as known as RT-PCR tests, make sure to check the specific requirements of a country beforehand. Travelers with an EU COVID certificate can freely travel between the member countries without additional restrictions such as testing or quarantine.
In order to travel to Russia, travelers need a negative PCR test result obtained no more than 72 hours prior to travelling. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted. In the US, either a negative PCR result or a negative rapid antigen test result obtained no more than 24 hours is sufficient for travelling. In China, it is mandatory to have a negative PCR test result taken at most 7 days before boarding. All travelers are also required to take a PCR test on arrival. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted. In Japan, travelers are required to have a negative PCR or quantitative antigen test result obtained no more than 72 hours before departure. All travelers must also take a PCR test on arrival in Japan.