CoV on December 9 | Only 4 Out of 22 Tested Disinfectants Effective

The coronavirus is shaping our lives. Here’s everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Austria on December 9, 2020 – updated regularly.

Reporting on COVID-19 in Austria is brought to you by Benjamin Wolf, Amina Frassl & Daniel El-Sabeh.

Find here the daily coronavirus update for Austria and Vienna, with everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Austria.

We also prepared in-depth coverage about about Vienna’s mass testing campaign for you.

And if you want to know how Austria will open up after the second lockdown, we’ve got you covered.

Here is a wrap-up of the measures currently in place in Austria, as they were announced, and information about the situation in general.

Get yourself tested! From Dec. 4-13, 08:00-18:00, everyone in Vienna can get a free rapid antigen test in the Stadthalle, the Marxhalle and the Messehalle. Register at österreich-testet.at.

December 9, 2020

  • Many disinfectants for the hands do not effectively kill off SARS-CoV-2, a new study showed.
    • The Verein for Konsumenteninformation (Association for Consumer Information, or VKI) has examined 22 disinfectants and products for hand hygiene.
    • Only 4 out of the 22 tested products can be expected to actually be effective in killing off the virus.
    • The disinfectant from Certainly, the Clean & Fresh disinfection gel from Joh. Niernsee KG, the Clean Hand Gel from CF and the Hand Hygiene Lotion from Brüder Unterweger contained enough alcohol to render “enveloped viruses” such as the coronavirus harmless within 30 seconds.
    • Furthermore, the price is a bad indicator for effectiveness. The products cost between €1.90 and €26.30 per 100 ml, yet the most effective one actually proved to be a disinfectant for €2.50 per 100 ml from the Austrian manufacturer Cleanly.
    • In general, the VKI cautions that hand disinfectants are not a very effective way to ward off SARS-CoV-2 in general and that “it is more important to keep your distance and wash your hands thoroughly at home than to constantly disinfect your hands on the way.”
  • The virus SARS-CoV-2 already circulated in Milan, Italy, in November 2019.
    • Researchers at a university in Milan re-examined several saliva samples from a local hospital, among them a mouth swab from a boy who had a bad cough in November last year.
    • The swab proved that the child had SARS-CoV-2 at the time. Neither the boy nor the family had traveled abroad before that period.
    • That indicates that the virus had already been circulating for a while at that time in northern Italy.
  • The European Medicines Agency (EMA) shows itself confident that an approval of the first vaccine is soon to be expected.
    • “We are more and more convinced of the test results we receive,” said EMA director Emer Cooke.
    • On December 29, the EMA will convene a meeting with representatives of all 27 member states’ health authorities to decide on the authorization of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine.
    • Until then, experts will examine the test results “day and not” Cooke assured, adding that “no corners will be cut” when it comes to the safety and security of the vaccine.
    • The EMA has scheduled another meeting for January 10 to decide on an emergency authorization for the vaccine of US company Moderna.
  • Today, Canadian health authorities issued an emergency authorization for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and Biontech.
    • Canada follows the UK and Bahrain, who both also already approved the vaccine.
    • While Canada has so far come better through the pandemic than the neighboring US, it is also struggling with the virus. More than 13,000 have died in the 38 million country since the beginning of the pandemic.
    • Rising cases in recent weeks have prompted the Canadian government to once again enact stricter measures.
    • Canada expects deliveries of between 20 and 76 million doses of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine in 2021.
  • Austrian ministries reported 2,932 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The number of known active cases decreased slightly by -623 (-1.5%) to 41,131.
    • Austrian federal states reported the following numbers of new infections:
      • Burgenland: 118
      • Carinthia: 291
      • Lower Austria: 519
      • Upper Austria: 544
      • Salzburg: 201
      • Styria: 443
      • Tyrol: 116
      • Vorarlberg: 104
      • Vienna: 546
  • The 7-day-incidence for all of Austria stands at 242 new infections per 100,000 people.
  • A total of 3,854 patients with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized, -63 (-1.6%) since yesterday.
    • Of those, 610 are in intensive care, +1 (+0.2%) more than before.
    • Since yesterday, 54 people in Austria have died due to or with the virus, bringing the total since the beginning of the pandemic to 4,056.
    • Over 20,000 PCR tests were performed, which is double than in the summer but a third lower than in recent weeks.

  • A study on antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at the University of Innsbruck has concluded that people who’ve recovered from COVID-19 have “long-lasting and stable immunity.”
    • This result concurs with similar international studies which has similar results.
    • “The 29 study participants were on average 44 years old and all of them had contracted COVID-19 in March,” Deisenhammer, head of the Neuroimmunology group at the Medical University of Innsbruck, described the examined group.
    • Antibodies were detected in all subjects at three points in time, two to eight weeks, three months and six months after the onset of symptoms.
    • The stability and permanence of antibodies is also crucial for the long-term effectiveness of vaccines, which will start to be rolled out over the coming months.
  • Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel made an emotional plea to parliament and all Germans to reduce their contacts before the Christmas holidays.
    • “I really am sorry, from the bottom of my heart. But if the price we pay is 590 deaths a day then this in unacceptable,” Merkel said, referring to open Christmas markets and other spaces where many contacts are still taking place.
    • Merkel also recommended letting the Christmas school holidays in Germany already start on December 16 (instead of Dec. 19), to further make it easier for families with children to isolate before the high holidays.
    • Schooling is a matter of the federal states in Germany, which is why the federal government headed cannot impose one solution across all the country.
    • “What will we say when we look back at this once-in-a-century event if we weren’t able to find a solution for these three days?” she asked her colleagues in parliament.

  • Austria’s second hard lockdown has had less of an impact than Israel’s earlier this year.
    • Experts had hoped that the number of new infections would fall below 2,000 a day – in reality, Austrian authorities reported 2,377 new cases on Tuesday.
    • While the rate of new infections fell by 50% per week in Israel, in Austria it only decreased by 30%.
    • Mathematician and simulation expert Niki Popper still expects numbers to fall as an aftereffect of the lockdown, with the nadir in new cases probably around December 15.
    • Viennese statistics professor Erich Neuwirth underlined that Austria’s caseload going into the lockdown was significantly higher than that of neighboring countries.
    • “Even if cases continue to drop for another two weeks, Austria would just be at the current level of Germany,” Neuwirth pointed out.
    • However, both experts also emphasized that a lockdown is not the only measures that can work – an effective testing strategy, contact tracing and generally more awareness of the population can help stabilize the numbers, too.
  • In Lower Austria, Styria and Upper Austria, preparations for the mass tests on the upcoming weekend run at full speed.
    • While Vienna chose to offer mass tests at three testing sites over period of two weeks (Dec. 4-13), most other federal states opted for a one-weekend strategy.
    • Below, you can find when you get tested where.
  • First doses of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine have arrived in Israel.
    • The 9-million country wants to start vaccinating its population soon, probably after the US FDA makes a decision on emergency use authorization (EUA) on December 10.
    • According to government sources, Israel has purchased 8 million doses of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 4 million people.

  • Austria’s travel restrictions over the holidays (Dec. 19 – Jan. 10) will probably include exceptions for couples and close family members.
    • The measures presented by the government last week foresee that everyone traveling to a risk country with more than 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks (i.e. all of Austria’s neighbors and most countries in Europe and the Americas at the moment) will have to quarantine for 10 days upon returning to Austria.
    • After five days in quarantine, people can “test themselves free” with a negative PCR test result.
    • The concrete decree has not yet been published, which has led local politicians to demand several exceptions for families living across the border and commuting regularly.
    • The Austrian daily Die Presse reported that insiders from the Social Ministry confirmed that such exceptions will be included in the decree.
    • The report says that “The quarantine rules will not apply to contact with people whom you meet physically on a regular basis, i.e. at least once a month. So: You may very well meet your partner or children abroad at Christmas if you have already had regular contact.”
    • Details are to follow once the decree will be officially published.

  • Neighboring Slovakia is preparing a new, third lockdown, according to media reports.
    • After mass tests and a lighter lockdown brought cases down, they’ve been rising rapidly again in recent days.
    • Already now, schools for children older than 10 are closed in the country, restaurants and bars were only allowed to sell take-away and shops were only permitted to open with restrictions.
    • Slovakia with 5 million inhabitants reported 1,622 new daily cases on average in the 7 days before Dec. 7; Austria with 9 million inhabitants reported 3,319 new daily infections in the same period.
  • Switzerland also plans further restrictions in the coming days and weeks.
    • Starting on December 12, restaurants, bars, shops and markets should already close at 19:00 in the evening.
  • The Netherlands is also weighing further, tougher restrictions.
    • In the past week, a cumulative 43,103 new cases were reported – that is an average of more than 6,000 daily new cases, in a country of 17 million.
    • Since October 13, a partial lockdown has been in force in the Netherlands, which brought numbers down considerably. Since last week, they’ve been rising once again.
  • In Germany, a new, tougher lockdown over the holidays seems increasingly likely.
    • Virologist Christian Drosten, one of the main advisers of the federal government and a public figure in the country, said: “The fact is, we absolutely have to do something now.”
    • Germany has been in a partial lockdown since November 2, which succeeded in stabilizing new case numbers on an elevated level.
    • German authorities have reported about 20,000 new cases every day in the last month, for a country with 83 million inhabitants.
    • The idea now floated by Drosten and Health Minister Jens Spahn is to gradually start to tighten restrictions on December 14 before going into a full lockdown between December 24 and January 10.
  • Austrian shops and malls reported of only “moderate interest” of customers on the first two days after stores were allowed to reopen.
    • Despite pictures of queues in front of individual stores, the retail sector as a whole reported that customers mostly come to buy very specific items and do not linger for linger.


On the next page, you find an overview of all measures currently in place in Austria.

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Benjamin Wolf
Benjamin studied Journalism, History and International Affairs. After stints with Cafébabel in Paris and Arte in Strasbourg, he is now working as managing editor and COO for Metropole in Vienna. Fields of expertise are politics, economics, culture, and history. Photo: Visual Hub

Current Status

If you live in Vienna, make sure to register for getting a vaccine against COVID-19 under impfservice.wien.  Here you can book your vaccination appointment.

Austria and Vienna have lifted most coronavirus restrictions in the summer.  

Here’s an overview of where you can get tested for COVID-19 in Vienna and how the free PCR “gargle” tests at home work. 

If everything is a bit much for you or you experience domestic violence of any kind, here is our mental health resource article.

Numbers

For current coronavirus numbers, check the website of Ministry of Health and the AGES dashboard.

The Austrian Ministry of Health also publishes daily vaccination statistics and a preview of scheduled deliveries.

Resources

The City of Vienna has compiled comprehensive information on questions and answers regarding coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease in English.

The Austrian Ministry of Health has put together FAQs on the coronavirus and also provides material to download on how to protect yourself and others from the disease, also in English.

Furthermore, the ministry will constantly update its German-language website with information on the number of people tested and cases of COVID-19 in Austria.

Hotlines

Health advice by telephone1450

If you show symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties) or fear that you are ill, stay at home and dial health number 1450 for further procedures (diagnostic clarification).

Coronavirus hotline AGES+43 0800 555 621

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) answers questions about the coronavirus (general information on transmission, symptoms, prevention) 24 hours a day at +43 0800 555 621.

VKI hotline for travel law questions+43 0800 201 211

For legal questions concerning trips that have already been booked (e.g. whether a trip can be cancelled free of charge), the experts of the Association for Consumer Information (VKI) provide advice free of charge from Monday to Sunday between 09:00 and 15:00 at +43 0800 201 211.