Austria on Friday became the first European country to announce that Covid-19 vaccination would become a legal requirement.

Not far behind are Austria – western Europe's least vaccinated country, with 64 % of the total population inoculated – on 1,395, Croatia on 1,275, and Belgium, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, all with rates of more than 1,000.

Moves in the Netherlands to tackle a fourth wave of the infection, including curbs on unvaccinated people, have sparked rioting.

The most common reasons given for this were thinking it would not offer any extra protection ( 53 % ) and the belief that the first two does would be enough to keep them safe ( 45 % ).

separate official figures showed that in the seven days to 15 november the number fell by 291 to 6,183- a drop of 4.5 %.

The WHO has said that it is "very worried" about the surge in Covid-19 infections being seen across Europe.

speaking to the bbc, regional director dr hans kluge warned that some 500,000 more deaths could be recorded across the continent by march unless urgent action is taken.

The warning comes as several nations report record-high infection rates and introduce full and partial lockdowns.

he said that once again, covid had become the "number one cause of mortality" in the region, and urged countries to engage in meaningful debates about vaccine mandates, which he added, should be seen as a “ last resort ”.

The new rules are set to come into force in February.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn has described the situation there as a "national emergency" and refused to rule another national lockdown out.

The UK recorded 44,242 new coronavirus cases on Friday.

The situation in some EU member states, particularly those with low vaccination rates, is indeed dramatic.

In central and eastern Europe in particular, but also Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, case numbers are rocketing.

Infection rates in Romania and Bulgaria, previously the EU's worst-affected countries, are now also much lower.

Meanwhile, thousands of protesters are gathering in Vienna, staging a demonstration against the nationwide lockdown which is set to begin next week.

Austria's far-right opposition Freedom Party is among those who have called for the protest; the group has vowed to fight the new restrictions.

However, the group ’ s leader Herbert Kickl, will be unable to attend the protest after testing positive for the virus earlier this week.

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