COVID-19: Austria enters full national blockade amid record number of cases – while fourth wave sweeps Europe | World News

Austria announced a full national blockade on Monday as countries across Europe impose major COVID-19 restrictions to counter a fourth wave sweeping the continent.

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said the confinement would last “a maximum of 20 days”.

He also announced that there will be a “requirement to be vaccinated” starting February 1st.

The country has already introduced a series of stringent measures along with Germany and Slovakia in the weeks before Christmas, as debate intensifies over whether single vaccines are enough to treat coronavirus.

About 66% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.

And the infection rate is among the highest on the continent, with a seven-day incidence of 971.5 per 100,000 people, and daily cases continue to set records.

Two states in Austria – Salzburg and Upper Austria – have already triggered a range of restrictions, with the rules extended to apply to vaccinated people and next week’s full confinement, which will see schools closed and a curfew imposed.

Last week, Europe accounted for more than half of the seven-day average of infections worldwide and about half of the most recent deaths, according to a report by Reuters.

It comes later German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced fresh limits public life for those who have not had a vaccine in places where hospitals are dangerously rapidly filling up with coronavirus patients.

And Greece also imposed more restrictions on unvaccinated people after a recent increase in cases – banning them from all indoor spaces, such as cinemas, museums and gyms.

The death rate from the virus has reached its highest level in six months, as about a third of Greece’s population remains unvaccinated.

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