Austria prepares to place millions of unvaccinated people in confinement

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Austria is days away from ordering millions of unvaccinated people to stay at home, its chancellor said, in a rare move that underscores the growing exasperation of European leaders towards those who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters on Friday that the government should give the “green light” for the move this weekend.

“The goal is clear: we want on Sunday to give the green light to a national blockade for the unvaccinated,” Schallenberg told a news conference in Innsbruck.

Earlier, he had called the country’s vaccination rate “shamefully low” and hinted that the measure would be triggered within days. “In other states, this rate is much higher – it’s disgraceful because we have enough vaccines available,” Schallenberg said at a news conference on Thursday.

Contaminations

His warning came as a wave of Covid-19 infections sweeps across Central Europe. A three-week partial blockade was announced in the Netherlands on Friday night, with health officials reporting a rapid increase in cases in the country.

“Tonight we are bringing a very unpleasant message with very unpleasant ​​and far-reaching measures,” interim Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a television speech, ordering restaurants, supermarkets and non-essential retailers to close early and imposing measures of social distancing. “The virus is everywhere and needs to be fought everywhere.”

Norway also announced new measures on Friday, as the population of the German capital, Berlin, prepares for new restrictions that will take effect on Monday.

Lockdown

Under Austria’s plan, which was agreed in September, unvaccinated Austrians will face a stay-at-home order, as 30% of intensive care beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients. The current rate is 21%, according to the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), and an outbreak of infections has boosted it quickly.

Unvaccinated people are already excluded from entertainment venues, restaurants, hairdressers and other areas of public life in Austria. If the new measures take effect, those unvaccinated will be required to stay at home, except for a few limited reasons; the rules will be overseen by police officers who will make spot checks on those outside.

About 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, one of the lowest rates in the European Union.

“It is clear that this winter will be uncomfortable for the unvaccinated,” Schallenberg warned on Thursday. “A blockade for the unvaccinated means you can’t leave the house unless you go to work, buy essentials, stretch your legs – this is exactly what we all had to go through in 2020,” he said.

Following Schallenberg’s announcement, the governor of Upper Austria province, in the northwest of the country, pressed for the measure to be introduced in his own province soon. The region is the most affected area in the country, with Stelzer calling the situation in his province “dramatic”.

Schallenberg’s tone epitomized the frustration several European governments expressed toward unvaccinated groups in society as a wave of Covid-19 infections sweeps the region.

Germany

In neighboring Germany, ministers have increased their rhetoric on those who have not been vaccinated. The capital, Berlin, announced on Wednesday that it will ban people who are not vaccinated from restaurants, bars, gyms, hairdressers and cinemas starting next week.

Vaccination rates vary across Europe but steadily decline in the east of the continent.

Meanwhile, German authorities warned on Thursday that the country continued to face a “very worrying” increase in Covid-19 cases and advised residents to “urgently cancel or avoid major events if possible, but also reduce all other contacts. unnecessary. ”

According to the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s seven-day incidence rate has risen to 263.7 cases per 100,000 people — up from 169.9 cases reported a week ago.

Officials in the country’s richest state, Bavaria, declared a state of emergency on Thursday. “The coronavirus pandemic threatens the lives and health of large numbers of people across the state of Bavaria,” said a statement issued by the state premier’s office on Wednesday, adding that “in many hospitals, there are no or there are only very few capabilities available.”

Norway

The Norwegian government said on Friday it would reintroduce “some more national measures” to “reduce the infection [Covid-19]” in the country. Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol said that “unvaccinated people over the age of 18, who live with someone infected with the virus, will have an obligation to take the test”, adding that the obligation would apply from 17 November .

The government will also advise municipalities to begin testing unvaccinated health workers twice a week, with a clear message that they must wear a mask, according to the statement.

For the second week in a row, Europe was the only region in the world where cases and deaths increased in the World Health Organization’s weekly global report.

Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 7, there was a 1% increase in new cases weekly, the update said, and just over 3.1 million new cases were reported. The region also reported a 10% increase in new deaths in the last week.

(Text translated, read original in English here)

Reference: CNN Brasil

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