Vienna / Bratislava (dpa) – To curb the sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infections, the Austrian government wants to present new measures on Saturday.
Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) wishes to inform the public at a press conference (4.30 p.m.) in Vienna. In the meantime, the first round of nationwide corona mass tests are starting in Slovakia to detect previously unknown sources of infection through rapid testing.
The measures planned in Austria and from when they will apply have remained open. The media are speculating on a partial lockdown similar to German measures with the closure of restaurants and leisure facilities. In addition, the nightly exit restrictions were up for debate. An unconfirmed draft regulation circulating in the media on Friday called for a ban on leaving private quarters between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. except for specific valid reasons.
Kurz cited 6,000 new infections per day as a critical value for further strengthening measures to prevent hospitals from becoming overburdened. Austria, which has just under 9 million inhabitants, recorded a record 5,627 new cases in 24 hours on Friday, more than 1,000 more cases than the last record reached the day before. The government is warning of an overload of intensive care units from mid-November if the numbers continue to rise.
Slovakia also uses mass testing to detect sources of infection. This weekend, the military is due to set up around 5,000 acceptance points for mass testing nationwide, including in schools and town halls. Rapid antigenic tests are used, which give a result in 15 to 30 minutes, but are considered to be less reliable than PCR tests.
The initiator of the project is the populist-conservative Prime Minister Igor Matovic, in power since March. One of the critics is the state medical association, which spoke of a waste of resources. The second round of testing will follow next weekend, November 7-8. Participation is voluntary. But only those who can test negative are exempt from the applicable exit restrictions.
In a test carried out in four districts on the border with Poland a week ago, nearly four percent of participants tested positive. Since the start of the pandemic, authorities have recorded more than 55,000 corona infections and 212 deaths. However, Slovakia only counts those deceased for whom another cause of death has been excluded. The EU member state has nearly 5.5 million inhabitants.
On the Icelandic island in the North Atlantic, stricter corona measures will apply from Saturday due to the growing number of infections. The maximum number of meeting participants will be reduced from 20 to 10. Up to 30 people are allowed to attend funerals; A maximum of 50 customers is now allowed in pharmacies and grocery stores. Sporting events and stage performances are prohibited, swimming pools, bars and nightclubs are closed. Alcoholic restaurants must close at 9 p.m. The stricter measures are expected to apply until November 17. The infection process almost came to a halt on the island with around 360,000 inhabitants in the summer, but then picked up speed.
Belgium is particularly affected by the corona virus. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced new measures after a crisis meeting in Brussels. Most stores must close on Mondays, with the exception of supermarkets. Nighttime curfews remain. Bars, restaurants and cafes, cultural and sporting venues are already closed anyway. Contact restrictions will be further tightened. In the future, Belgians will only be able to receive one visitor per week at home; for singles, there are two. School holidays will be extended until November 15. According to the European Health Agency, Belgium currently has the most corona infections in the European Union in terms of population.
The United States has now recorded more than nine million infections with the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. This came out of data from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on Friday. The United States recorded the highest absolute number of infections detected, followed by India with more than eight million cases and Brazil, where around 5.5 million infections have been recorded. The number of new infections recently reached an average of 75,000 per day. For Thursday, for example, Johns Hopkins even reported more than 88,000 new infections.