Austria experiencing second coronavirus wave: Chancellor

Austria has so far been able to avoid the brunt of the health crisis. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

VIENNA (AFP) - Austria is experiencing the start of a second wave of coronavirus infections, its chancellor said on Sunday (Sept 13), as cases spike upwards in line with other EU countries.

From Friday to Saturday, the Alpine nation of nearly nine million people reported 869 new cases - more than half of those in the capital Vienna.

"What we are experiencing is the beginning of the second wave," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in a statement, appealing to the population to stick to anti-virus measures and reduce social contacts.

He warned that the mark of 1,000 cases per day would be reached soon.

France reported 10,000 new infections on Saturday, close to the level of the peak of the first wave in April, while Britain introduced new restrictions on gatherings last week as the number of new daily infections surged to around 3,500.

On Friday, Mr Kurz announced that the government would expand mandatory mask-wearing and slap new restrictions on events from Monday.

Masks will be compulsory in all shops and public buildings, in addition to places where they must already be worn such as supermarkets and public transport.

The conservative leader has warned that the government could introduce further measures if cases kept rising but would try to avoid a repeat of the lockdown imposed in March, which entailed severe restrictions on movement and the closure of shops and restaurants.

Austria has so far been able to avoid the brunt of the health crisis. Total coronavirus infections currently stand at more than 33,000 with around 750 deaths.

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