Austria's government has announced a second mass shutdown and a curfew starting next week until the end of November, in an attempt to halt rocketing coronavirus infection numbers.

"From midnight on Tuesday until the end of November there will be a second lockdown," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a press conference.

A curfew between 8pm and 6am will also come into force.

"All events will not be possible. This will affect the sports, cultural and leisure sectors. Hotels will have to close with the exception of work travel and we must also close restaurants and cafes, with the exception of delivery and takeaway services," Mr Kurz said.

However, unlike the first shutdown in the spring, shops will remain open.

In recent weeks the number of positive test results has surged in Austria, far exceeding the levels recorded in the springtime first wave of the pandemic.

Yesterday saw a new record of 5,627 infections within 24 hours, while Saturday's figure was barely any lower at 5,439.

At the beginning of October the rate of new infections per day was just over 1,000.

The number of those admitted to hospital after contracting the virus has also been rising, with 64 more admissions recorded on Saturday bringing the total currently receiving hospital treatment to 1,867.


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Slovakia begins mass testing programme 

Slovakia has begun a programme to screen its entire population for coronavirus in what would be a global first but medical professionals have warned it could lead to an increase in cases.

Some 45,000 medical workers, army and police are being deployed to carry out the tests in the EU member state of 5.4 million people, collecting swabs at around 5,000 testing points.

Socially distanced queues could be seen forming in the streets of the capital Bratislava even before the points opened at 6am.

"The world will be watching," Prime Minister Igor Matovic said this week.

He said the measure would save "hundreds of lives".

The programme will use antigen tests, which give quick results - something within minutes.

But antigen tests are not seen as being as reliable as the PCR test for which nasal and throat swabs have to be sent to a lab for analysis.

Participation in the testing is not mandatory but anyone who is not able to produce a negative test certificate if stopped by police could get a heavy fine.

Anyone who tests positive has to go immediately into quarantine for 10 days.

Slovakia would be the first country of its size to undergo nationwide testing, although mass testing has taken place in entire Chinese cities.

Smaller European states such as Luxembourg and Monaco have also announced mass testing programmes.

Iran expanded measures beyond capital

Iran has announced the expansion of measures against Covid-19 beyond the capital, Tehran, amid growing calls for a full lockdown after the country posted a string of record highs in deaths and infections.

The measures would take effect on Wednesday and last for at least a week, Alireza Raisi, spokesman for Iran's anti-virus taskforce, said in televised remarks.

They would force the closure of beauty salons, cafes, education centres, gyms, mosques, museums, swimming pools and theatres in 25 provincial capitals and 46 counties, Raisi said.

The measures are an extension of what had already been introduced in Tehran and 43 other counties in recent weeks.

Iran, the country worst-hit by the virus in the Middle East, has recorded several daily fatality and infection highs in recent days, with figures on the rise since September.

The latest record death toll of 415 was announced on Wednesday, with new infections reaching a high of 8,293 the next day.

Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said there had been another 386 deaths and 7,820 new cases in the past 24 hours.