Slovakia becomes 2nd European nation to impose Covid lockdown

Brussels: After Austria this week imposed a shutdown, Slovakia has become the second European country to go into lockdown as Covid-19 cases surge, the media reported.

Slovakia has declared a 90-day state of emergency and a two-week lockdown following a spike in Covid cases that saw the country’s seven-day average of cases rise above 10,000, Euronews reported.

The decision came after president Zuzana Caputova addressed the nation on Tuesday, saying that “Slovakia is losing the battle against Covid.”

She also explained that the lockdown was needed as the healthcare staff became overworked, and the strain on the hospitals became almost unbearable, the report said.

During the two-week lockdown, people will be allowed to leave their homes only for specific reasons, such as buying groceries, travelling to work and school, or getting vaccinated.

Those still unvaccinated will be required to have a test or proof that they have had Covid in order to get to work.

All gatherings of more than six people who do not live in the same household have also been prohibited during the 90-day state of emergency.

Slovakia ranks as the third-lowest European Union country in vaccination rates, with little over 45 per cent of Slovaks fully vaccinated.

The country has surpassed the 3,000-hospitalisations mark, and almost 83 per cent of those hospitalised were not vaccinated, according to the Slovak Health Ministry.

As the number of infections is rising steadily in many European countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday warned that Covid-19 deaths in the region could increase by around 700,000 by March 2022.

The additional 700,000 deaths would take the region’s overall death toll to 2.2million.

Slovakia’s neighbours — the Czech Republic and Hungary have also registered a record daily rise in cases.

Austria has already put a total lockdown in place from November 22. The country is also going to make vaccination mandatory from February 1 of next year, making it the first country in the world to do so.

Partial restrictions have also been imposed in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Earlier, the WHO said that it is “very worried” as Covid cases continue to spike in Europe.

According to regional director Dr Hans Kluge the risk is due to low mask use and vaccine hesitancy, winter season, and dominance of the more transmissible Delta variant. Several European countries have loosened masking requirements, citing vaccine efficacy.

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