Lockdown 4.0 in Austria, experts warn of complacency setting in

Austria has become the first Western European country to re-impose strict lockdown measures as COVID-19 cases witnessed a sudden spike. Monday saw a nationwide lockdown, the fourth since the start of the pandemic in 2020, coming into place in the face of surging coronavirus infections.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Europe is the only region in the world which is witnessing a steady rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Coronavirus induced deaths rose by 10 per cent in the past week and at least 1.9 million cases were in Europe. The development in Austria is being closely watched by other European nations even as they struggle with rising cases that are putting a huge strain on healthcare systems.

Austria started off by imposing a lockdown on approximately two million people who have not been fully vaccinated yet. Around 65 per cent of the total Austrian population has been fully vaccinated till date – the lowest in Western Europe. As a result, the seven-day infection rate has gone over 800 cases per 100,000 people.

In a bid to tackle the rising numbers, the Austrian government has decided to go ahead with the lockdown despite earlier promises that public lockdowns were a thing of the past. The latest measures are expected to last a maximum of 20 days with re-evaluations after 10. The public will be required to stay at home barring activities like grocery runs, medical checkups and exercising.

Places of public gathering like restaurants, cafes, bars, theatres, hair-dressers and other establishments deemed non-essential will be required to close shop for the duration of the lockdown. Tourist travel to the Alpine country will also be banned as of now. Hotels will also be closed, forcing tourists currently in-country to make arrangements for a quick departure.

Austria’s Health Minister, Wolfgang Mueckstein, commented that the situation called for an immediate action to stem the rising tide of new COVID-19 infections. “A lockdown, a relatively tough method, a sledgehammer, is the only option to reduce the numbers (of infections) here,” he said. The government had earlier imposed a lockdown on the unvaccinated but with daily infections pushing past the previous peak a year ago, it had no choice but to re-introduce a fourth lockdown.

This predicament is an eye opener for other nations which have seen a decline in cases in the past months. Countries like India which have seen an all-round decrease in infection should not take the situation lightly. Experts like Dr. Naveet Wig, Chairperson of COVID Taskforce, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), has cautioned against getting complacent. “Looking around us, the feeling one gets is that we have overcome COVID-19 pandemic and the public at large has lowered the guard. It resembles the situation before the second wave hit India,” he warned.

Andrew s

Andrew has been in the online publishing industry since 2015. After receiving his degree in professional journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, he contributed to multiple websites as a freelance writer and feature editor. Mostly, Andrew tackles controversies and theories that lead to a specific conclusion that either debunk or justify a particular claim. Further, Andrew participates in social developments that aim to simplify every individual's way of life and fight for peace. He is the new Editor-in-Chief of Pressroom Today.

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