Austria is days away from placing millions of people not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on lockdown Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said today.
The nation’s current rate of infection is at an all-time high and has placed intensive-care units under increasing pressure.
Once 30 per cent of intensive-care beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, people not vaccinated against the coronavirus will be placed under lockdown, according to an incremental plan agreed by the government in September.
The current level is 20 per cent and rising fast.
Around 65 per cent of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the lowest rate of any Western European country apart from tiny Liechtenstein, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data.
‘According to the incremental plan we actually have just days until we have to introduce the lockdown for unvaccinated people,’ Schallenberg told a news conference in the westernmost province of Vorarlberg, adding that Austria’s vaccination rate is ‘shamefully low’.
Austria’s current infection rate is double that of the UK and is higher than any rate of infection seen in Britain during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Dutch experts have recommended their government introduce a two-week partial lockdown, which would be Western Europe’s first since vaccines were widely deployed, and German vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz is meeting with ministers today to discuss new lockdown restrictions.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said today the nation is days away from placing millions of people not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on lockdown as daily infections are at a record high
Around 65 per cent of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the lowest rate of any Western European country apart from tiny Liechtenstein, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data (pictured: man receiving vaccine in mobile vaccination station in Vienna)
The conservative-led government said on Friday it was banning the unvaccinated from restaurants, theatres, ski lifts and providers of ‘services close to the body’ like hairdressers.
‘A lockdown for the unvaccinated means one cannot leave one’s home unless one is going to work, shopping (for essentials), stretching one’s legs – namely exactly what we all had to suffer through in 2020,’ Schallenberg said, referring to three national lockdowns last year.
Many Austrians are sceptical about vaccinations, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third-biggest in parliament, while centrist opposition parties have accused the government of doing too little for months to boost vaccination levels and keep infections in check.
Some conservatives have argued that a lockdown for the unvaccinated would be unenforceable, but Schallenberg declared the police would conduct spot checks to ensure restrictions were being observed.
The surge in Austria comes at a time when Eastern European states, with the continent’s lowest vaccination rates, are experiencing some of the world’s highest daily death tolls per capita.
Dutch experts have recommended their government introduce a two-week partial lockdown, which would be Western Europe’s first since vaccines were widely deployed, while Germany ‘s health ministry today reported that the nation’s one-day Covid case toll has topped 50,000 for the first time as politicians meet to discuss the possibility of winter lockdown measures (Left: Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte, right: German vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz
Meanwhile, Germany‘s health ministry today reported that the nation’s one-day Covid case toll has topped 50,000 for the first time as politicians meet to discuss the possibility of winter lockdown measures.
The Robert Koch Institute this morning registered 50,196 new cases, up from 33,949 daily cases a week earlier, just hours after one of the country’s top virologists warned of 100,000 deaths over winter if no action is taken.
Christian Drosten, of the Charite University Hospital in Berlin, said the country’s vaccination rate needs to quickly increase to prevent catastrophe as hospitals cancel routine operations to focus on Covid patients.
Olaf Scholz, who is expected to be the country’s next Chancellor, said he will hold a meeting of state leaders today to discuss new Covid restrictions.
‘What we need now is for the country to pull together in one direction,’ said Scholz.
‘It is very, very important that we take every measure to ensure that we can protect the health of the citizens of our country.’
Germany has fully vaccinated around 67 per cent of its population against Covid, about the same percentage as the UK.
However, the country is lagging far behind with its booster shots. The UK is offering boosters to everyone aged 50 and over, and has administered 11million doses so-far.
Dutch consider new partial lockdown as coronavirus cases hit record
The Dutch government is considering whether to impose Western Europe’s first partial lockdown since the summer, as new coronavirus cases jumped to the highest level since the start of the pandemic.
A surge in infections that started when social distancing measures were lifted late September has put pressure on hospitals throughout the country, forcing them to scale back regular care to treat COVID-19 patients.
New coronavirus infections in the country of 17.5 million have roughly doubled in the last week and hit a record of around 16,300 in 24 hours on Thursday.
To contain the outbreak, the government’s pandemic advisory panel on Thursday recommended imposing a partial lockdown, shutting down theaters and cinemas, scrapping large events and closing cafes and restaurants earlier, broadcaster NOS reported.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet will discuss the advice during an emergency meeting tonight, and will announce its decisions during a televised press conference scheduled for Friday 1800 GMT.
The government often follows the expert panel’s recommendations.
After a partial lockdown of around two weeks, during which schools would remain open, entrance to public places should be limited to people who have been fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from a coronavirus infection, according to the advice.
The Netherlands has so far provided booster shots to a small group of people with weak immune systems. It will start offering them to people aged 80 years and older in December, while extra shots will eventually be available for anyone older than 60.
Around 85 per cent of the adult population in the Netherlands has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Last month, roughly 56 per cent of Dutch COVID-19 patients in hospitals and 70% of those in intensive care were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.
Unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in Dutch hospitals had a median age of 59, compared to 77 years for vaccinated patients, data provided by the Netherlands’ Institute for Health (RIVM) showed.
Last week, the Netherlands re-introduced masks and expanded the list of venues that require a ‘corona pass’ that demonstrates vaccination or a negative test result, to gain access.