Dutch court orders govt to end virus curfew

Published February 17, 2021
BOGOTA (Colombia): A person stands inside a portable epidemiological insulation unit during a media presentation on Tuesday. Colombia’s La Salle University school of architecture designed the small polyhedral pneumatic geodesic domes which can be used to isolate and treat Covid-19 patients in areas where there are no  hospitals or where existing hospitals are overwhelmed with patients.—AP
BOGOTA (Colombia): A person stands inside a portable epidemiological insulation unit during a media presentation on Tuesday. Colombia’s La Salle University school of architecture designed the small polyhedral pneumatic geodesic domes which can be used to isolate and treat Covid-19 patients in areas where there are no hospitals or where existing hospitals are overwhelmed with patients.—AP

THE HAGUE: A Dutch court ordered the government on Tuesday to lift a nationwide coronavirus curfew that sparked riots in the Netherlands, as frustration mounts throughout the world against virus measures almost a year into the deadly pandemic.

Government’s face pushback from populations tired of measures aimed at slowing the virus’s relentless spread, and countries were scrambling to secure sought-after vaccines in a bid to return to a pre-pandemic normal.

North Korean hackers tried to break into the computer systems of Pfizer to search for information on a coronavirus vaccine and treatment technology, South Korea’s spy agency said on Tuesday.

The impoverished nation has been under self-imposed isolation since closing its borders in January last year, as much of the world shut down to protect against the virus that has now killed more than 2.4 million people worldwide.

A deadly second wave prompted a further tightening of restrictions across Europe this winter, including in the Netherlands which imposed a 9pm to 4:30am curfew in January. Violent protests engulfed several Dutch cities in defiance of the curfew — the country’s worst riots in decades — and last week the government extended the overnight stay-at-home order until March 2.

On Tuesday a judge said the government wrongly used emergency powers to bring in the curfew after a case launched by the Viruswaarheid (Virus Truth) group, which has led a series of protests against coronavirus measures in the Netherlands.

“The curfew must be lifted immediately,” the court said in a statement.

“The curfew is a far-reaching violation of the right to freedom of movement and privacy... This requires a very careful decision-making process.” Amid mounting fatigue over coronavirus restrictions — protests against virus measures have been waged from France to Cyprus and Israel — governments are pinning hopes on vaccines to end the pandemic that has infected nearly 110 million people globally.

But with demand far outstripping supply, countries are racing to get their hands on doses of much-needed vaccines. Nearly 172 million vaccine doses have been given worldwide, with the majority so far going to richer countries.

On Tuesday, Seoul’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers “North Korea tried to obtain technology involving the Covid vaccine and treatment by using cyberwarfare to hack into Pfizer”, MP Ha Tae-keung told reporters in South Korea after a parliamentary hearing.

Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, developed jointly with Germany’s BioNTech, began winning approval from authorities late last year.

The North’s leader Kim Jong Un has repeatedly insisted that the country has had no coronavirus cases, although outside experts doubt those claims.

In a boost for poorer countries, the World Health Organisation on Monday approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, paving the way for millions of doses to be distributed.

The AstraZeneca shot, which is easier to store and transport than some of its rivals, will account for almost all the doses set to be shipped under Covax, an international programme designed to ensure that poor countries are not overlooked.

Hungary on Tuesday became the first EU country to receive China’s Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine, with 550,000 doses arriving in Budapest.

The European Medicines Agency has so far approved vaccines for the bloc developed by US-German firm Pfizer-BioNTech, US firm Moderna and British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca with Oxford University.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2021

Opinion

Are we failures?
27 Feb 2021

Are we failures?

Third World leaders emulated their erstwhile oppressors...
Rage of Caliban
27 Feb 2021

Rage of Caliban

Lawyers have shown that the fraternity abides by tribalistic values...
Combating pollution
26 Feb 2021

Combating pollution

Air quality is at hazardous levels, and a more robust policy response is needed.

Editorial

LoC ceasefire
Updated 27 Feb 2021

LoC ceasefire

THE Pakistan-India relationship is known for its complexity and bitterness, but there are times when surprises of a...
27 Feb 2021

Null and void

HAD people not lost their lives, the ham-fisted attempt at rigging the Daska by-election on Feb 19 could have been...
27 Feb 2021

Minister’s non-appearance

FEDERAL Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda’s continued absence from the Election Commission’s hearing on the...
Terrorist’s escape
Updated 26 Feb 2021

Terrorist’s escape

It is not clear how many military personnel were involved in this incident and what the investigation into their actions revealed.
26 Feb 2021

Penalising filers

THE FBR has decided to penalise taxpayers filing their returns late. Apparently, these filers will be required to ...
26 Feb 2021

Corporal punishment

FOR a child born in our society, the cycle of violence begins early. The first taste of violence often comes at the...