containment, vaccine mandate for all – .

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containment, vaccine mandate for all – .


VIENNA – Austria will enter a nationwide lockdown to contain a fourth wave of coronavirus cases, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on Friday, as new COVID-19 infections hit an all-time high amid a pandemic wave in across Europe.

The lockdown will begin on Monday and will initially last 10 days, Schallenberg said.

And from February 1, the country will also make vaccinations mandatory.

Most stores will close and cultural events will be canceled next week. People will only be able to leave their homes for certain specific reasons, such as shopping for groceries, going to the doctor, or exercising.

Wolfgang Mueckstein, the country’s health minister, said kindergartens and schools will remain open for those who need to attend, but all parents have been urged to keep their children at home if possible.

“We don’t want a fifth wave,” Schallenberg said, according to the ORF. “We don’t want a sixth or seventh wave either. “

Full lockdown is the latest effort to control the rapidly increasing number of cases. This is the fourth nationwide lockdown since the start of the pandemic last year. The country reported 15,809 new infections on Friday, a record high.

Earlier this month, Austria introduced rules prohibiting unvaccinated people from accessing restaurants, hotels and major events.

And from Monday, the government is imposing a nationwide lockdown only on those unvaccinated.

Government officials had long promised that those vaccinated would no longer face lockdown restrictions: Over the summer then Chancellor Sebastian Kurz declared the pandemic ‘over’ for those who received the vaccine . But as cases of the virus continued to skyrocket, the government said it had no choice but to extend it to everyone.

“It’s very painful,” Schallenberg said.

Mueckstein, the Minister of Health, said many factors have contributed to the current situation, including the lower than expected vaccination rate in Austria and the seasonal impact of the virus. But he also apologized for the initial reluctance of state and federal leaders to implement tougher measures.

“Unfortunately, even we, as the federal government, have failed to meet our standards in some areas,” he said. “I want to apologize for that. “

After 10 days, the effects of the confinement will be assessed. If the virus cases have not subsided enough, it can be extended up to a maximum of 20 days.

Austrian intensive care doctors welcomed the government’s decision.

“The record infection figures we have seen day after day will only be reflected in normal and intensive care units with a time lag. It is really high time to stop completely, ”Walter Hasibeder, president of the Society for Anesthesiology, Resuscitation and Critical Care Medicine, said Austrian news agency APA.

“Given the current course of the infection, we believe there is no alternative to an even greater restriction on contact than recently, so any measures that help curb the momentum are the welcome, ”he added.

In the past seven days, the country has reported more than 10,000 new cases of infection per day. Hospitals have been inundated with many new COVID-19 patients, and deaths have also risen again. So far, 11,951 people have died from the virus in Austria.

The situation is particularly dire in the regions of Salzburg and Upper Austria, which have been particularly affected by the increase in the number of cases. In Salzburg, for example, the seven-day rate of new infections is almost double the national average.

Hospitals in both states have warned in recent days that their intensive care units are reaching capacity, and hospitals in Salzburg have started discussing potential triage procedures to take only the worst cases.

Austria, a country of 8.9 million people, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe – only 65.7% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Despite all the persuasion and campaigning, too few people have decided to get vaccinated, Schallenberg said, leaving the country with no choice but to introduce mandatory vaccinations in February.

The Chancellor said details would be finalized in the coming weeks, but those who continue to refuse to be vaccinated should expect to be fined. In addition, booster injections are now available for all people vaccinated from four months after their second dose.

“For a long time, the consensus in this country was that we didn’t want mandatory vaccination,” Schallenberg said. “For a long time, maybe too long. ”

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