VIENNA, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday that a second lockdown might be the "ultimate measure" to contain the sharp rise of coronavirus infections.
"The higher the infection rates, the more restrictive measures are needed," said Kurz on the Austrian National Day. "The ultimate measure is a second lockdown."
He emphasized that the Alpine country is facing an "extreme challenge" with the "exponential growth" of infections. "Even for those who still do not want to believe it, the situation is very, very serious," said Kurz.
The key is to prevent the intensive care units from being overwhelmed, added the chancellor.
In an email revealed by local media on Sunday, Elisabeth Puchhammer-Stockl, a leading virologist who sits on the coronavirus "traffic light" committee, has warned members of the government's COVID-19 task force against the uncontrolled spread of the virus.
Austria's largest newspaper Kronen Zeitung quoted her as saying in the email that her team's analyses of individual cases in Vienna have shown infections can be acquired in public space, such as shops and public transports.
"We have found in these investigations that more and more people do not know where they could have been infected," the virologist said.
Austria reported 2,456 new COVID-19 infections within the past 24 hours, more than doubled compared to that of a week ago, according to data published by the Interior Ministry.
So far, there have been 83,267 positive test results. As of Monday morning, 992 people died, and 1,330 people are in hospitals for coronavirus treatment, 188 of them in intensive care units.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries including France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.
According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Oct. 19, there were 198 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 44 of them were in clinical trials. Enditem