Nov. 14 (UPI) — Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced Saturday that the country is going to enter a second lockdown while Greece plans to close primary schools for two weeks and Iran plans to impose tighter restrictions as COVID-19 infection rates rose around the globe.
On Saturday the World Health Organization reported 657,312 new cases of COVID-19 around the world and 9,797 new deaths recorded in the previous 24 hours. Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker reported 53.7 million total infections and 1.3 million deaths around the world since the pandemic began.
The United States reported both the highest number of new cases — 1,142 — and the highest cumulative number of cases at 10.5 million.
But the rate of new infections in Europe has spiked sharply upward in recent weeks, with several countries reporting numbers of new infections that are several times higher than they were two weeks ago and also exceed the number of cases recorded during the spring.
In Austria, Kurz said Saturday that authorities are failing to trace 77% of new COVID-19 infections and that the country’s target infection rate has exploded to 10 times higher than expected — prompting a two-and-a-half week lockdown in the country.Austria reported 9,586 new infections Friday — a number nine times higher than at the peak of its initial wave earlier this year. It has recorded more than 191,000 cases total since the pandemic began, and 1,661 COVID-related deaths.
Its new restrictions will kick in Tuesday, and will include the closure of schools and shuttering of all non-essential shops and services.
The Greek government plans to close all primary schools and nurseries for two weeks after reporting its second highest number of new infections — 3,038 — since the beginning of the pandemic.
The country has also imposed a nationwide public curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., though individuals who need to go out for work, to see a doctor or walk a pet are exempted.
And Iranian deputy health minister Alireza Raisi announced through state television Saturday that the country will impose tighter restrictions on 100 cities and towns as its infection rate climbs.
Masks are already mandatory in Tehran, and Raisi said non-essential businesses — such as cinemas, cafes, gyms and pools — will shutter in the country.
The country announced 7,820 new infections and 386 new deaths, bringing the total number of cases in Iran to 612,772 and the total number of deaths to nearly 35,000.