Austria locks down unvaccinated, Netherlands reimposes restrictions, as Europe combats surge in COVID cases

The Austrian government ended its threat last week to order unvaccinated people to stay in their homes for an initial period of 10 days, as it works to curb the increase in cases and prevent its hospitals and medical staff are not overwhelmed.

The decision, which came into effect on Sunday at midnight, prohibits unvaccinated people 12 years of age and over from leaving their homes, except for basic activities such as working, shopping for groceries, going for a walk or getting vaccinated, such as reported the Associated Press.

Authorities are concerned about the increase in infections and deaths and that soon hospital staff will no longer be able to handle the growing influx of COVID-19 patients.

“It is our job as the Austrian government to protect the people,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters in Vienna on Sunday. “Therefore, we have decided that from Monday… there will be a lockdown for the unvaccinated. “

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About two million people out of a population of 8.9 million will be affected, according to Austrian press associations. Police will patrol the streets and check immunization status, and violators will be subject to a fine of up to 1,450 euros ($ 1,660). About 65% of Austrians are fully vaccinated, which lags behind other Western European countries. A recent spike in cases has pushed its seven-day infection rate to 775.5 new cases per 100,000 population. By comparison, the rate is 289 in neighboring Germany, which has already sounded the alarm on the rising numbers.

Flu season is approaching and health experts expect it to be worse than last year. WSJ’s Felicia Schwartz explains why it could be an earlier and more severe season and what precautions people can take during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Europe is the only region in the world where cases and deaths are increasing every week, the World Health Organization said last week. And while Central and Eastern Europe is mainly to blame because of their low vaccination rates and general mistrust of their governments, Western countries with higher vaccination rates are also registering higher cases. and reintroduce preventive measures.

See: WHO warns Europe could see 500,000 more deaths from COVID-19 by February amid patchy immunization, and US begins immunizing children as young as 5

The Netherlands announced a three-week partial lockdown on Friday amid rising COVID-19 cases, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte saying his government wanted to ‘deal a blow to the virus’, the AP reported separately. The lockdown, which began on Saturday night, was the first for a Western European nation since the summer.

Dutch bars, restaurants and supermarkets will have to close at 8 p.m., professional sports matches will be played in empty stadiums, and people are encouraged to work from home as much as possible. Stores selling non-essential items will be required to close at 6 p.m.

Dr Michael Ryan, chief of emergency at the World Health Organization, said last week that “frankly some countries are in such a difficult situation now that they are going to have a hard time not putting in place measures. restrictive, at least for a short period of time, to reduce the intensity of transmission.

The WHO has stressed that the way out of the pandemic does not lie only in vaccines, nor in the promising antivirals that have recently emerged. But rather, it forces the public to play their part, to continue to follow security measures introduced last year of wearing face masks in public, socially distancing themselves and avoiding gatherings indoors. Vaccines are not 100% effective, and virus infections do occur, although these infections are unlikely to cause serious illness or death in those vaccinated.

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The unvaccinated account for most of the cases, hospitalizations and deaths for months now, deaths that could have been prevented.

The United States still averages more than 1,100 COVID deaths per day and more than 80,000 new cases are detected, according to a New York Times tracker. New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois and Minnesota are hot spots with an average number of new cases up 40% over the past two weeks, the tracker shows.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker shows 195 million people living in the United States are fully vaccinated, or 58.8% of the overall population, a number that has been static for weeks.

In other news, India is reopening its doors to foreign tourists some 20 months after its borders were closed, Nikkei Asia reported. Travelers must show proof of a recent negative test for the virus.

The UK has extended its COVID vaccine booster program to people aged 40 to 49 and has given the green light to adolescents aged 16 and 17 to get a second injection, the Guardian reported.

Egypt will begin clinical trials for a domestically made coronavirus vaccine, the AP reported. The vaccine trial, named “COVI VAX”, will start with tens, then hundreds, and will eventually include thousands of people.

There has been sad news from a Nebraska zoo where three snow leopards have died from complications from COVID, CBS News reported. “Our leopards, Ranney, Everest and Makaly, were loved by our entire community inside and outside the zoo,” the zoo said in a statement. “This loss is truly heartbreaking and we all cry together. ”

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The global coronavirus-borne disease tally topped 253.4 million on Monday, while the death toll topped 5.10 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The United States continues to dominate the world with a total of 47 million cases and 763,092 deaths.

India is second by cases after the United States with 34.4 million and has suffered 463,655 deaths. Brazil has the second highest death toll with 611,283 and 21.9 million cases.

In Europe, Russia has the most deaths with 251,796 deaths, followed by the United Kingdom with 143,337.

China, where the virus was first discovered in late 2019, has recorded 110,780 confirmed cases and 4,809 deaths, according to its official figures, which are widely considered massively underestimated.

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