The Austrian government ordered a nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated people starting Monday to slow the country’s fast spread of COVID-19.
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In Europe, the Austrian government ordered a nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated people starting Monday to slow the fast spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The move prohibits unvaccinated individuals over the age of 12 from leaving their homes except for basic activities such as working, grocery shopping, going for a walk — or getting vaccinated.
Authorities are concerned that hospital staff will no longer be able to handle the growing influx of COVID-19 patients.
“It’s our job as the government of Austria to protect the people,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters in Vienna on Sunday. “Therefore we decided that starting Monday … there will be a lockdown for the unvaccinated.”
The lockdown affects about two million people in the Alpine country of 8.9 million people, news agency APA reported. It doesn’t apply to children under the age of 12 because they cannot yet officially get vaccinated.
The lockdown will initially last for 10 days and police have been asked to check people outside to make sure they are vaccinated, Schallenberg said.
Unvaccinated people can be fined up to 1,450 euros ($2,080 Cdn) if they do not adhere to the restrictions.
Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe — only around 65 per cent of the total population is fully vaccinated. In recent weeks, the country has faced a worrying trend in infections. The country reported 11,552 new cases on Sunday; a week ago there were 8,554 new infections.
Deaths have also been increasing in recent weeks. On Sunday, 17 new deaths were reported. Overall, Austria’s pandemic death toll stands at 11,706, APA reported.
The seven-day infection rate stands at 775.5 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In comparison, the rate is at 289 in neighbouring Germany, which has already also sounded the alarm over the rising numbers.
Schallenberg pointed out that while the seven-day infection rate for vaccinated people has been falling in recent days, the rate is rising quickly for the unvaccinated.
“The rate for the unvaccinated is at over 1,700, while for the vaccinated it is at 383,” the chancellor said.
Schallenberg also called on people who have been vaccinated to get their booster shot, saying that otherwise “we will never get out of this vicious circle.”
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What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, more than 253.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the global database maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5 million.
WATCH | ‘No country can simply vaccinate its way out of the pandemic,’ says WHO:
‘No country can simply vaccinate its way out of the pandemic’: WHO
As Europe combats a major surge in new COVID-19 cases, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned that “vaccines do not replace the need for other precautions.” He urged people to follow pandemic restrictions in addition to getting vaccinated. 2:49
In Asia, China reported the first cases among foreign athletes at preparatory events for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games. Officials say two lugers from the same country tested positive and they have been transferred to quarantine hotels.
In the Americas, hundreds of Venezuelans have been traveling to Colombia recently for coronavirus shots, as Venezuela struggles to get enough doses for its people.
In Africa, Moderna has offered to sell its vaccines to the African Union at $7 US a shot, said the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control. The figure represents a substantial discount compared to the $22-$37 price range that other buyers agreed to this year.