WORLD / EUROPE
New restrictions imposed as COVID-19 surged in Europe
Germans, Austrians rush for shots
Published: Nov 18, 2021 05:28 PM
Empty seats at a street cafe on November 8, 2021 in Leipzig, Germany. The state of Saxony is the first state in Germany to bar people who are unvaccinated from entering restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms, hairdressers and other public venues. COVID-19 infections have skyrocketed in the past week across Germany. Approximately 90% of infected people being admitted to the hospital are unvaccinated. Photo: AFP

Empty seats at a street cafe on November 8, 2021 in Leipzig, Germany. The state of Saxony is the first state in Germany to bar people who are unvaccinated from entering restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms, hairdressers and other public venues. COVID-19 infections have skyrocketed in the past week across Germany. Approximately 90% of infected people being admitted to the hospital are unvaccinated. Photo: AFP

Germans and Austrians are rushing to get vaccinated against coronavirus as infections soar across Europe and governments impose restrictions on the unvaccinated, figures showed on Wednesday.

Germany and Austria have among the lowest rates of vaccination in western Europe and are now the epicenter of a new wave of the pandemic as winter grips the continent.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week said he was cautious about rising cases in Europe, warning of gathering "storm clouds" of infections.

Britain has had much higher case loads than the rest of western Europe since summer 2021, but those rates are coming down just as they are rising in central and eastern Europe.

The German health ministry said 436,000 people received a shot on Tuesday, including 300,000 boosters, the highest number in about three months. Queues have been forming at vaccination centers around the country.

"It is a sign that many citizens have recognized the need," government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said. But he added that the vaccination rate was still not high enough.

About 65 percent of Austria's population is fully vaccinated and about 68 percent of Germany's, well behind the Netherlands and countries like Italy and Spain that were much harder hit in the early waves of the pandemic.

The Netherlands said it was running short of COVID-19 tests as it registered more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, the highest since the pandemic began.

Sabine Dittmar, health expert for Germany's Social Democrats, said she hoped 1.4 million people could be vaccinated a day if shots are administered at companies, by family doctors and by mobile vaccine teams, as well as at vaccination centers.

In Austria, the number of vaccines administered daily has jumped to about 73,000 in the last week, from around 20,000 in October, official data showed, although the vast majority of those were boosters rather than first shots.

Austria has ordered a lockdown on the roughly 2 million people who are not fully vaccinated. It has one of the highest infection rates on the continent, with a seven-day incidence of 925 per 100,000 people, compared with 320 in Germany. Its total death toll from the pandemic stands at 11,848.

Reuters
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