Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in October

The coronavirus has arrived in Austria. Here’s all you need to know about current measures, including where to get help, information and tips – updated regularly.

with additional reporting by Amina Frassl

After the Austrian government took increasingly drastic measures in March to contain the coronavirus, the country successfully flattened the curve in April, and gradually reopened shops, schools and restaurants again in May.

Life in Vienna got back to something like normality with summer arriving in June, while newly rising numbers in July have prompted regional lockdowns, quarantine, travel warnings and targeted measures. In August, the CoV-Ampel was introduced, and measures were gradually tightened.

In September, with cases rising again at a swift pace, stricter measures have been introduced and people were asked to limit private gatherings to 10 people at max.

With numbers rising rapidly, October brings new challenges in dealing with the pandemic.

For a wrap-up of current measures and developments, check out our current Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna article, with daily updates.

Here’s a timeline of what happened in Austria in October 2020.

October 31, 2020

Government press conference

  • Starting on Tuesday, November 3, 00:00, there will be a second lockdown in Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) announced in a press conference today.
    • All events will be canceled.
    • Hotels will have to close, only business trips will be permitted.
    • Restaurants, bars and pubs will have to close again. Only takeaway will be allowed.
    • Chancellor Kurz said affected businesses will get “80% of their revenue from the same month in the previous year reimbursed,” if they keep all their employees on the payroll.
    • Kurzarbeit (short-time work program) will again be extended and expanded, to safeguard jobs and viable businesses.
    • Universities and the Oberstufe (classes for students older than 14) will switch to distance learning.
    • Schools for your younger children and kindergartens will stay open for now, but the situation will be constantly evaluated.
    • Industry and manufacturing will stay open, as will shops, stores and personal services such as hairdressers, barbers, physiotherapists and other.
    • Wherever possible, people should switch to home office and working from home.
  • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) said “we are currently experiencing a massive second wave” in Europe, with many European countries in lockdown.
    • In Austria as well, Kurz said, infections have been rising exponentially in recent weeks. In the last week, that accelerated even more.
    • Austria has one of the best health systems of the world, emphasized the chancellor, but there is still a maximum capacity. “If we don’t act now,” said Kurz, “we will see an overwhelmed Austrian healthcare system,” with consequences for everybody.
    • Kurz warned of a situation where doctors have to choose who to treat via triage in such a scenario.
  • Kurz called on all Austrians and people in the country to massively reduce their social contacts.
    • During the time of this second lockdown, only people from two households are allowed to meet.
    • There will be a curfew and stay-at-home order between 20:00 in the evening and 06:00 in the morning.
    • People can go out to walk, make sports or for other essential activities.
    • However, it will be explicitly prohibited to visit other household for nightly meetings, parties or other meet-ups.
    • The police can fine people with up to €1,450 for not following these regulations.
  • Kurz said he is fully aware that many people will say and feel “I don’t want anymore, I can’t anymore.”
    • Kurz underlined that he understands this sentiment, but warned of a full escalation of the situation if measures are not taken and followed now.
    • The chancellor said he is convinced that the second lockdown, if followed by people, will reduce the infection numbers massively, which would allow new opening steps in December.
    • The definitive end of all measures will only be possible once there is a vaccine. Kurz showed himself confident that this will make a “normal summer” possible again in 2021.
  • Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) spoke to “all Austrians and all who live in Austria.”
    • Kogler said he understands the frustration with measures, but said they are necessary so that everyone who may need an intensive care bed for whatever reason will certainly get one.
    • Evenings in cinemas, theaters, in bars, restaurants or parties and meetings in friends will not be possible anymore in the coming weeks.
    • In his capacity as sports minister, Kogler pointed out that sport venues will stay open for individual sports and professional athletes.
    • The minister said the government is well aware how hard these measures affect sports, tourism, culture, restaurants, bars and others and wants to express its gratitude for the flexibility and willingness to adapt to the difficult circumstances.
    • Nevertheless, physical contacts need to be reduced massively now, which can only work with the measures outlined above.
    • Kogler also underlined again that the government will reimburse 80% of the November revenue of the previous year to all affected businesses, associations and institutions.
    • Finally, the vice-chancellor expressly thanked all those who work in the healthcare sector.
  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) said we are experiencing “the worst pandemic in the last 100 years” and Europe is worst affected, with a third of new infections globally currently taking place on our continent.
    • Anschober said we were able to contain the virus in spring, because everybody helped together and made their own contribution – and that’s exactly what is needed now again.
    • The health minister showed an official graphic of the WHO, with stable numbers in summer, rising numbers in September and an explosion of infections in October.
    • Last Saturday, Anschober said, experts forecast 2,200 new infections for last Saturday – in fact, 3,600 were reported. Today, 5,349 new infections were reported in the country.
    • The number of hospitalizations and patients with COVID-19 needing intensive care rise with a two-weeks lag to the case numbers.
    • Today, the number of patients in intensive care are at the past peak of spring. Now, however, we are at the beginning of the acceleration.
    • Based on these numbers, experts projected that the capacity of Austria’s intensive care units may be reached in mid-November to the end of November, if strict measures are not taken now.
    • Anschober also said that practically all neighbors and other European countries are currently experiencing the same trend, just with a difference of a couple of weeks in the progression of the second wave.
    • The health minister also shared that that the age groups 15-24 and 25-34 are still those who record the most new infections, but the third most-affected (and most at-risk group) is already that one of people older than 85 years.
    • Therefore, a new concept for visits in care homes will be presented and a new testing concepts will make sure that once a week, everybody in those homes will be tested.
    • The government has already ordered three million rapid antigen tests for exactly this purpose.
    • Anschober asked people to show solidarity, so we can “manage this together.”
  • Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) expanded on the curfew and stay-at-home order (Ausgangsbeschränkungen) between 20:00 and 06:00 o’clock.
    • In general, it will be prohibited to leave the house in that time.
    • There are only five exceptions which permit people to still leave the house:
      • If there is risk or danger in the house.
      • For helping others who need help.
      • For essential needs (food etc.).
      • For professional reasons.
      • For doing sports or taking a walk for psychological hygiene.
    • Nehammer also gave examples:
      • If the police will find a group of people in a park in the night with alcohol, they will face fines and prosecution.
      • The same will be valid for bars or other venues where people could meet.
    • The interior minister said the police will show presence especially at the beginning of these new measures to make sure they will be followed.
      • Dialogue, de-escalation, vigorous action will the principles in police action, Nehammer said.
      • “The police is the partner of the population,” said Nehammer.
  • Finance Minister Gernot Blümel (ÖVP) spoke about the economic situation and the government’s support measures.
    • Blümel said Austria as a “tourist and sport nation” is affected particularly hard.
    • He also pointed to a European comparison that supposedly shows Austria on No. 1 when it comes to the amount of government aid in this crisis as a percentage of GDP; No. 11 in a global comparison.
    • During this lockdown, the key new support measure will be reimbursing business that have to shut with 80% of their revenue in the same month of the previous year.
    • The Kurzarbeit scheme (short-term work program) and fixed cost subsidies for other affected businesses will also be extended.
  • Then, journalists were allowed to ask questions, which we will collect here.
    • A question regarding controls in the private space was answered by Chancellor Kurz who said that the hard measures for culture, restaurants and hotels also necessitate steps like the curfew for private parties and meetings.
    • A question regarding new businesses just founded in this past year and the economy in general was answered by Chancellor Kurz.
      • Kurz said there are no specific experiences with a second lockdown yet; Israel managed to bring its numbers massively down with these measures, Czechia is still struggling and in the Netherlands, the trend is still showing up.
      • Finance minister Blümel said the average of revenues in these past months will probably be the basis for the reimbursement calculations.
  • The press conference just ended. All essential information was communicated today, further details may still be communicated in the following days.

Other news today

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today an England-wide second lockdown, starting on Thursday, November 5, until December.
    • “Now is the time to take action, because there is no alternative,” said Johnson.
  • According to media reports, new coronavirus measures will be valid from November 2 to November 30. A press conference with the final details is scheduled for 16:30.
    • A curfew from 20:00 to 6:00 is expected to be announced. Exceptions are to be made for urgent family matters, work, physical and mental relaxation, and in case of danger. But this measure will in a first step only be valid until November 12.
    • Restaurants, bars, and cafes will be closed. Takeaway will only be available until 20:00.
    • Hotels must shut. Guests who are currently staying at hotels may do so until the end of their stay.
    • Shops will remain open, however, there will be restrictions to the number of people that are allowed to enter the store.
    • Recreational places will be closed, including museums, theaters, cinemas, zoos, and dance studios. Archives, libraries, and parks will remain open.
    • Offices have already been recommended to transition to remote working. Where this is not possible, a minimum one-meter distance must be kept between people. A mask requirement can only be introduced by the employer.
    • All indoor sporting sites and gyms will be closed. Sport outside is allowed, as long as there is no personal contact involved. Professional athletes will be allowed to do sports, but only without an audience.
    • People will only be permitted to visit nursing homes if they show proof of a negative test at the entrance or wear a CPA mask during their entire visit. Only one visitor is allowed per patient every second day. Between November 3 and November 17, each person may only have two of the same people visit. Employees must be tested twice a week
    • Hospital employees will be tested once a week, given there are enough tests. Otherwise, they must wear masks. Hospital visits are allowed, even without proof of a negative test result.
    • All events will be cancelled. Funerals with 50 attendees will be allowed. Political party events, demonstrations, and religious gatherings are exempt from this measure. Rehearsals and performances without audience are also allowed.
    • Schools will remain open. All states, except for Tyrol who is still undecided, have agreed to this.
    • Private parties are still allowed in the immediate living space. Garage or garden parties are banned. Gatherings are limited to six people from two households, excluding children.
  • 5,349 new infections were reported in the last 24 hours.
    • 1,867 people are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals. 265 patients are in intensive care units.
    • So far, 1, 109 people have died with or from COVID-19 in the country.
  • 30 soldiers from the Austrian Bundesheer are helping Slovakia in its mass testing program. This has spurred a political debate within the country.
    • The former left-wing Slovak Minister President Robert Fico criticized the Slovak government for recruiting the helpers, stating that the government is violating the constitution in recruiting foreign soldiers in times of a non-existing “humanitarian emergency.”
    • But Austrian lawyers argue that the soldiers can be viewed as a form humanitarian assistance.
  • Contact tracing efforts in Upper Austria are also at capacity. The federal state is now receiving help from Bundesheer soldiers and from AMS employees.

October 30, 2020

  • An important press conference is scheduled for tomorrow, in which the federal government will reportedly introduce a “light lockdown,” meaning strict measures to curb the spread of the virus. Measures may include:
    • A curfew from 20:00 to 6:00. Exceptions are to be made for urgent family matters, regular needs, for physical and mental relaxation, and in case of danger.
    • Restaurants, bars, and cafes will be closed. Takeaway will only be available until 8 p.m.
    • Hotels must shut. Guests who are currently staying at hotels may do so until the end of their stay.
    • Shops will remain open, however, there will be restricts to the number of people that are allowed to enter the store.
    • Recreational places will be closed, including theaters, cinemas, and dance studios. Museums, zoos, and librarian will remain opened.
    • Offices have already been recommended to transition to remote working. Where this is not possible, a minimum one-meter distance must be kept between people. A mask requirement can only be introduced by the employer.
    • All sporting sites and gyms will be closed. Team sports will be prohibited. Professional athletes will be allowed to do sports, but only without an audience.
    • People will only be permitted to visit nursing homes if they are tested at the entrance or wear a FFP2 mask during their entire visit. Only one visitor is allowed per patient each day. Employees must be tested twice a week.
    • All events will be cancelled. Funerals with 50 attendees will be allowed. Political party events and religious gatherings will be exempt from this measure.
    • Schools will remain open. All states, except for Tyrol who is still undecided, have agreed to this.
  • More than half of the hospital beds in Vienna’s intensive care units (ICU) are occupied. According to Markus Pederiva, spokesman of the Viennese Health Union, the situation is “worrying.”
    • Currently, only 550 hospital beds available in the city. Only 87 out of 150 ICU beds are still available.
  • An anti-corona protest with 15,000 attendees is expected to take place tomorrow at noon at Heldenplatz in the inner city. The demonstrators have planned to drive around the Ring and march from the Heldenplatz to the Burgtheater and back. The protest is expected to end at 18:30.
    • According to a press briefing from the police, mass congregations will not be banned this weekend. This means that the protest is allowed to take place.
    • A protest against corona measures on the national holiday revitalized the controversy over protests during times of corona. Numerous corona measures were broken at the protest. Many attendees did not wear masks and did not keep the minimum distance to others.
    • Therefore, a health expert will be present at tomorrow’s protest to monitor whether the attendees adhere to the corona safety regulations.
  • Today Health Minister Rudolf Anschober urged Austrians to reduce their social contacts immediately. According to Anschober, reducing contacts by one-third will half the infection risk. He also indicated that new measures will be introduced shortly.
  • The Viennese simulation expert Niki Popper said that cutting back on recreational contacts and mobility are essential to curbing the rapid spread of the virus.
  • This weekend Austria will increase controls on its borders to Italy and Slovenia.
  • In a press briefing, the Wiener Ärztekammer (Viennese Medical Chamber) criticized Anschober’s handling of the crisis, as he has failed to present federal measures for the health sector. Vice President Harald Mayer said that the government could have worked on a plan and a functioning, uniform contact tracing program during the summer.
  • The number of patients being treated in hospitals have increased by 65 percent. The number of occupied intensive care beds has increased by 3.9 percent since last week. 12.9 percent of tests are positive, which is an increase of 4.5 percent since last week.
    • The largest portion of infected people, 38 percent, are between 60 and 64. 33 percent are between 20 and 49, 15 percent are between 0 and 19, and 14 percent are over the age of 65.
  • Austrian ministries reported 5,627 new infections within the last 24 hours. This is a new record in cases.
    • According to the AGES dashboard, the 7-day incidence is 277 per 100,000 residents. This is an increase of 17 since yesterday.
    • 1,803 patients are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals. 283 are in intensive care units.
    • In total, 1,082 people have died with or from COVID-19 in Austria.
  • Starting Monday, sick leave can again be granted via telephone. This new ruling is valid until March 2021.
    • Previously, sick leave was only awarded via telephone to those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
    • The ÖVP economic team stressed that this measure should only be valid as long as needed. They believe that personal contact with doctors and in-person diagnosis is still the best option.
  • In a press briefing today, Finance Minister Gernot Blümel and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said that the Finance Ministry is working “under high pressure” on another aid package for local businesses ahead of upcoming, still unannounced restrictions to the public life.
    • “The preservation of jobs and the survival of businesses are at the forefront of the economic assistance to all affected industries,” said Blümel.
  • The commission for the official Corona-Ampel of the Austrian government has switched the entire country to red, the highest alert level.
    • Only a few individual districts, mostly in Carinthia, are still yellow or orange.
  • Austria has introduced new arrival requirements for travelers coming from Czechia, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. Starting tomorrow, individuals are required to present a negative corona test result. Failure to do so means they must enter a 10-day mandatory quarantine.
  • According to the Austrian daily Kurier, the expected new measures that will be announced on Saturday and take effect on Monday will also include a curfew and stay-at-home order from 20:00 in the evening to 06:00 in the morning.
    • This severe measure should forestall nightly meetings in private settings, where most infections are said to take place.
    • An exception would be going out for “physical or psychological relaxation;” visiting other households would be explicitly prohibited.
  • According to the Austrian daily Heute, the government is planning to impose a lockdown based on the German model starting on Monday, November 2.
    • The government held a press conference on October 29 where it implored people to reduce their social contacts and announced new measures for Saturday, October 31.
    • The so-called “lockdown light” should be imposed for four weeks, according to Heute.
    • The German model foresees closing all restaurants, bars, beauty salons, tattoo studios, cinemas, theaters and other public venues, but leaving open barbers and hairdressers, shops, schools, public offices and other essential services.
  • Today Germany put Carinthia on its “red list.” Starting at midnight, all people entering Germany from Austria must self-isolate for 14 days. Individuals who provide a negative corona test are exempt from the quarantine.
  • The City of Vienna will erect three “Checkboxen”(corona test containers) in Favoriten, Ottakring, and Donaustadt by the end of this week. Doctors will be conducting fast corona test there for those who are unsure whether they have been infected with the virus.
    • Individuals who test negative and are suffering from the regular flu will be treated at the spot.
    • In total, the city plans to erect 30 containers by the end of November.
  • Statistician Erich Neuwirth reported 5,234 new infections in Austria in the last 24 hours as of 08:00 today, based on the numbers from Austrian ministries.
    • This is the first time daily infections have exceeded the mark of 5,000.
    • This is five times more than just two weeks ago. On October 16, Austria had reported 1,163 new cases.
  • Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have been rising steeply in recent weeks, but in the places hardest hit in the first wave, they are still significantly below the peak in spring.
    • However, experts underline that hospitalizations lag case numbers by two weeks, making the steep rise all the more worrying.

October 29, 2020

  • Following an expert round of the Austrian government, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP), Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler and Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (both Greens) said in a press conference today at 14:00 that new measures will be announced on Saturday after talks with the social partners and other parliamentary parties.
    • For more information what was discussed at the press conference, please read the points and paragraphs below.
  • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) asked the Austrian population to reduce their contacts and refrain from organizing Halloween parties or meet for All Saints’ Day.
    • Still, the chancellor called for a cool head and asked for patience until Saturday, when new measures and a timetable going forward will be announced.
  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) emphasized three crucial parameters for the capacity of the healthcare systems: available beds, age profile of infected people and available skilled staff.
    • With currently 248 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, Anschober sees the occupancy rate as worrying and close to the peak in spring.
  • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) pointed out that the number of cases is currently “doubling every week,” a strong warning signal.
    • Kurz also underlined the large capacities of the Austrian healthcare system, which gives the country more flexibility in dealing with the pandemic.
    • The chancellor pointed out that the situation in France, Czechia and other countries shows how quickly the healthcare system can become overwhelmed, making normal operations (regular surgeries etc.) hard to impossible.
    • Tomorrow, Friday, a conversation with the Social Partners (employers, employees, institutions) will take place. This Saturday, a talk with the other parties in parliament will take place, after which the government will again inform the public.
    • The government is also coordinating with neighboring countries.
  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) called the situation Europe “more dramatic” than during the first wave.
    • Anschober quoted past projections for about 2,200 new cases this week, when reality has us at already double these numbers.
    • The Health Minister additionally warned that the age profile of the infected people is again rising strongly, with people older than 80 once again affected strongly.
    • Current forecasts foresee 5,800 new cases every day at the end of next week, a very worrying trend, said Anschober.
    • This current trend would bring Austria’s healthcare system to full capacity at the end of November, which the government wants to prevent.
    • The goal for the next days has to be a reduction in the number of new infections.
  • The spokesman of the expert round gave context to the current numbers and forecasts.
    • Approximately 1 out of 100 new infections will have to be hospitalized and taken care of in an intensive care unit.
    • This means that with rapidly rising numbers and a lag of two weeks from new measures to an actual impact in cases, a massive change in behavior of the population is needed.
  • Klaus Markstaller, representative of intensive care system in Austria, spoke about the situation at hospitals.
    • Markstaller agreed with the health minister’s statement that the units are very well equipped in Austria, but also pointed out that ICUs are usually at 85% capacity.
    • That means that the surge capacity is limited and also cannot be expanded quickly, as it is complex and also needs competent staff.
    • Markstaller said “we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world” where every patient can expect to receive individual care. This would not be possible anymore if the healthcare system reaches its capacity.
  • Chancellor Kurz said that the timetable stands – talks with Social Partners tomorrow, with parliamentary parties and governors on Saturday, afterwards a new press conference –and that speculations about new measures cannot be answered conclusively before these talks are over.
    • Kurz said that further statements are being prepared and that the public will be informed as soon as new measures will be agreed upon.
    • The Chancellor again mentioned the number 6,000, referring to new infections a day, as an indicator for a re-instigated lockdown or measures of this kind.
  • A new government press conference was announced for 14:00 today as cases and hospitalizations keep rising and neighboring countries are going back into lockdown.
    • A panel of experts will meet with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP), Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler and Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (both Greens) on the subject of hospital capacities today at 13:00.
    • Also today, the 27 heads of state and governments of the EU will hold a video conference to discuss closer cooperation in the fight against the pandemic. New proposals from the EU Commission are also to be discussed.
    • According to “Salzburger Nachrichten” and “Der Standard”, government circles are talking about “lockdown-like measures”, similar to the ones announced yesterday in Germany. This would entails restrictions on public life, but probably not as dramatic as those in spring.
  • The Austrian Interior Ministry reported 4,453 new positive cases in the last 24 hours since yesterday, as of 09:30 this morning, a new record.
    • Here is how the new infections were reported in Austria’s federal states:
      • Vienna: 821
      • Lower Austria: 1.074
      • Upper Austria: 796
      • Tyrol: 584
      • Vorarlberg: 276
      • Styria: 355
      • Salzburg: 262
      • Carinthia: 166
      • Burgenland: 119
    • There are currently 36,989 active cases in Austria according to the AGES dashboard.
    • A total of 1,692 patients with COVID-19 are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals.
    • Four weeks ago, 88 patients with COVID-19 were in intensive care; now, 248 are, more than three times as many.
    • 29 people with COVID-19 in Austria died from the illness yesterday.
  • The City of Vienna ordered two million rapid antigen tests, announced City Council of Health Peter Hacker (SPÖ).
    • The tests will be used in care homes of the elderly.
    • Furthermore, starting next week, Hacker wants to set up “medic containers” – he called them “checking boxes” – all across the city where people with symptoms can go and get a rapid test.
    • The councilor said that 20,000 rapid tests are already available and there is the option on the table to purchase another 2 million at any time.
    • Starting on November 3, all 17,000 people living in Viennese care homes will also be tested regularly with these rapid antigen tests to detect an outbreak early.
  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has assured that, unlike in Germany and France, Italy is not facing the prospect of a full nationwide lockdown for the time being.
    • “We want to give the restrictive anti-COVID measures time to fully show their effects. Our aim is to get the epidemic curve under control,” Conte was quoted.
    • The government’s job is to combine public health with the needs of the economy, he said. A lockdown at this stage would damage the country.
  • Since last week, rapid antigen tests have been carried out by general practitioners; a pharmacy in Vienna offering the same option was prohibited from providing such tests by the MA 40.
    • “Until it is legally clarified whether pharmacies are allowed to offer rapid antigen tests, we unfortunately have to discontinue the offer,” stated the Marien-Apotheke.
    • The rapid antigen test presents a result within 15 minutes, but isn’t as specific as a PCR test. The pharmacy had also emphasized that it is “just a supplement and in no way a substitute for PCR tests.”
  • The Greek government has ordered a lockdown for the cities of Thessaloniki, Larisa and Rodopi in central and northern Greece.
    • Compared to other European countries, Greece has been relatively weakly affected by the corona virus so far but numbers have skyrocketed in recent weeks.
    • For the first time this week, more than 1,500 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Greece within 24 hours.
  • Bulgaria is also tightening its anti-CoV measures, restricting public life for two weeks due to the sharp rise in new infections.
    • The EU country with a population of 6.9 million people registered 2,760 new coronavirus infections today. 25,105 people are currently infected with the coronavirus. A week ago it was 14,689.
  • Viennese hospitals have changed their strategy for ventilating COVID-19 patients, increasingly relying on AirVo devices, which the city has bought 500 pieces of.
    • AirVo devices utilize a “high-flow therapy” in which a patient is supplied with oxygen at a certain pressure through a nasal cannula via a mask.
    • Due to the new treatment strategy, capacities in intensive care units could be kept free.
    • Occupancy numbers due to COVID-19 have recently risen rapidly in Austrian intensive care units.
  • In Upper Austria, hospitals began to postpone planned routine surgeries.
    • Similar considerations are also underway in Vienna, Salzburg, Tyrol and Styria.
    • Some Styrian state hospitals are partly operating at capacity limits, the KAGes said on Tuesday.
  • With hospital capacity, one of the main indicators for policy, there has recently been criticism about the way data of free beds is collected. The SPÖ accused the government of “flying blind.”
    • An expert jury was assembled by the government to ascertain how many free hospital beds there are exactly and how this can be more accurately measured in the future.
    • “There are certainly no 10,000 free hospital beds in Austria,” said Richard Greil, head internist at Salzburg General Hospital, referring to the currently shown number on the official AGES dashboard.
    • Greil also called for a country-wide uniform method of counting available, occupied and intensive care beds. This is the only way to recognize impending overload.
    • Currently, with health care operations in the hands of federal states and local operators, the data situation is unclear.
    • “Even a very good health system can reach its limits,” warned Bernd Lamprecht, head of the pulmonary clinic at the Kepler University Hospital in Linz. On a CoV station 50% percent more staff is needed than on other stations, Lamprecht pointed out.
  • Switzerland has taken Austria from its red list of coronavirus travel destinations.
    • A new Swiss regulation for setting countries on its red-list is in effect for designated countries and cities whose 14-day-incidence of the virus is 60% higher than in Switzerland.
    • Since Switzerland currently has one of the highest rates of new infections in Europe, only some regions of France are now still on its travel warning list.

October 28, 2020

  • The French government just announced that France will go into national lockdown starting this Friday, October 30, and until December 1.
    • The lockdown rules will be essentially the same as in March, with the exceptions of schools, public service which will stay open, as will the Schengen (intra-European) borders of the country.
    • Grocery stores and other essential business will also stay open, as will factories and construction sites.
    • State support for individuals, employees and business will be more generous, according to the government.
    • France had reported between 30,000 and 40,000 new infections per day in recent weeks, all-time records and per capita massively higher than most other countries.

  • The German government has announced strict measures which will again apply across the country starting next Monday, November 2.
    • A “wavebreaker lockdown” in November is supposed to bring the number of new infections down considerably by reducing social contacts and interaction of people.
    • Restaurants, pubs, bars cosmetic salons, massage, tattoo and fitness studios as well as cinemas will be closed again.
    • No more than 10 people shall be allowed to meet and congregate in public.
    • Events will be canceled, theaters and concert halls shut their doors.
    • Stores, schools and kindergartens however will remain open.
    • Only 25% of new cases in Germany can be traced back to the source of infection at the moment, 75% cannot, which makes it hard to say for sure which areas are driving the current wave of infections.
    • German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of “exponential growth” in cases and asked for a “national effort” in number to bring the number of new infections down. “It is crystal clear, we have to act, and the time is now,” Merkel said.
    • The German government also announced a support scheme in which restaurants and tourist business will get 75% of their revenue from November 2019 reimbursed this year.
  • The Austrian hospital association (KAGes) has today issued a ban on visitors in its hospitals.
    • The capacity of the hospitals are “partly at limit” and the situation is “tense,” the KAGes said in a statement.
    • At the moment, 252 patients with COVID-19 are being treated in Styrian hospitals, 38 of which are getting intensive care.
    • Hospitals have still a bit more than double this capacity, but are factoring in a rise in hospitalizations in the next days due to steeply rising case numbers.
    • The new measures should thus help to contain the spread of the virus and protect both patients and medical personnel.
    • Exception permits will only be issued in special cases. The only general exception is births, were partners can of course come and visit.

  • A study by the Danube Private University (DPU) showed that, four months after the infection with the coronavirus, 94% of cured COVID-patients still have antibodies.
    • The study was conducted in Weißenkirchen in the Wachau, Lower Austria, where a testing campaign in June showed that 102 out of 884 tested inhabitants had antibodies against the virus.
    • That the antibody count is still strong and stable after four months is an encouraging indication that immunity lasts and re-infection are rare.
    • For Ralf Braun, head of the study, these results indicate remaining immunity and “give hope for the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccination programs which can be expected in the next year.”
    • Braun further explained that “the antibody titers remain surprisingly constant. Interestingly, this is not only true for the IgG long-term antibodies, but also for the IgA titers, which I would have expected to decrease over time.”
    • Whether T-cells also provide some sort of immunity is still an open question and currently being investigated.
    • Other international studies came to similar results, underlining that the immune response is usually strong and lasting and that antibody levels can be fine-tuned with a potential vaccine, once it arrives.
  • One of the unusual features of the pandemic to date is that it hit wealthy and emerging countries much harder than developing countries.
    • While poor data may be partly to blame, most experts agree that the trends are clear enough to show a stark difference.
    • This divergence is unusual, as rich countries normally have much more resources and knowledge to fight a disease.
    • However, several properties of the coronavirus – e.g. the way it spreads due to high levels of mobility and particularly that it affects very old people disproportionately – particularly hit richer countries, whose population is on average more mobile and older than that of developing countries.
    • For more information and a statistical snapshot, see tweet and graph bellow (HIC = high income countries; DW = developing world).

  • Austria’s western federal states Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Salzburg have reported new records in the 7-day-incidence of new cases.
    • The value now lies above 300 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, significantly above the Austrian average of 214 new infections per 100,000 people.
    • The AGES also reported that there are currently more than 33,000 active cases of coronavirus in Austria.
  • The federal state of Styria sees contact tracing as “not possible anymore.”
    • The high number of new infections and low staffing make the practice of track and trace increasingly “hopeless,” said six Styrian local health authorities today.
    • Styria has reported 358 new infections in the last 24 hours.
  • German authorities reported 15,000 new infections on a day, a new multi-months high.
    • Meanwhile, media reports indicate that Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking an agreement on one month “wavebreaker lockdown” in November, which would force restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and other venues to close their doors.
  • Authorities Czechia imposed a nighttime curfew, effective as of last midnight.
    • In the coming weeks, people are not allowed to leave their house between 21:00 in the evening and 05:00 in the morning.
    • The strict measure is supposed to curb the still-high numbers of new infections in Austria’s neighboring country, which has been under partial lockdown for the past weeks.

October 27, 2020

  • The head of the Economics Research Institute (WIFO), Christoph Badelt said that a collapse of Austria’s winter tourism is highly likely. The high number of cases in Austria and in other European countries could deter many from traveling.
    • A bad winter season could be detrimental to Austria’s economy, causing it to contract by another -1.5% percent on top of the recession already taking place.
  • Salzburg’s contact tracing team is in emergency mode. One employee tested out of the 40 person tested positive, now 20 others must self-isolate.
  • There has been a virus outbreak in a nursing home in Pinkafeld (district Oberwart) in Burgenland. 54 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 2 have died.
  • The number of unemployed has increased by almost 3,000 since last week. In total, 416,175 people are currently registered as unemployed in Austria.
  • After four of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus, the restaurant Fabios in Vienna’s 1st district will shut its doors for the next 10 days.
  • This morning, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said that a second lockdown would only occur if the health system is under severe strain. This would be when 60-70% of the hospital beds in the intensive care units are occupied.
    • According to Anschober’s criteria, we are currently far away from a second lockdown. However, this could change soon, as the number of cases in Austria are currently increasing at an exponential rate.
    • Anschober also rejected the government’s interference in people’s private lives. He urged everyone to assume personal responsibility in the next three to four weeks.
  • Austria’s tourism industry experienced a -14% reduction in overnight stays in September. In Vienna, the number of overnight stays decreased by -75%.
  • The UN headquarters in New York City announced today that all in-person meetings would be canceled, effect immediately.
    • The policy at UN headquarters Vienna seems to be different at this moment; despite several infections, in-person meetings continue.
  • According to data gleaned from Austrian Social Ministry’s website, 2,835 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in the last 24 hours as of 09:30 today.
    • While relatively stable compared to the numbers of recent days, data after holidays is often spotty.
    • The number still represents a +75% increase compared to last Tuesday.
    • There are currently more than 32,000 active cases across the country according to the AGES dashboard.
    • The number of deaths from COVID-19 have surpassed 1,000. In total, 1005 people have died from the virus in Austria.
  • Germany recorded 11,409 new corona cases within the last 24 hours. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet with state leaders tomorrow to decide on drastic measures. A “wavebreaker lockdown” is being considered.
  • Italy reported a negative record of 22,000 new infections within the last 24 hours.
    • Strict restrictions to public life, including the closure of cinemas, theaters, casinos, clubs, public sporting locations, and pools, have been in effect since yesterday.
    • Restaurants and bars must shut at 18:00 in the evening.
  • Belgium is currently the European country hardest-hit by the pandemic.
    • Yesterday, the authorities introduced mandatory mask wearing in all public spaces and a nightly curfew from 22:00 to 6:00 in the morning.

October 26, 2020

  • Austria celebrates today its National Day (Nationalfeiertag). This year, celebrations will take place mostly online.
    • However, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony and the traditional swearing-in of new recruits by Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen will take place on Heldenplatz.
    • This year, people also cannot visit the Hofburg (the president’s seat) as usual – that’s why President Van der Bellen showed visitors today his offices with a drone (see below).
  • We are experiencing massive, exponential growth,” said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) about the current coronavirus situation in Austria. ”This is an extreme challenge. The situation is very, very serious, even for those who still don’t want to believe it.”
    • Kurz said that a second lockdown would be a measure of “last resort” but could not ruled out, looking at current numbers.
  • According to the data from the Austrian Social Ministry, 2,400 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Austria in the last 24 hours as of 08:00 today.

October 25, 2020

  • Austrian ministries reported today 2,782 new coronavirus infections in the country. That brings the number of active cases in the country to 28,100 according to the AGES dashboard.
    • Here’s how these daily new cases are spread across Austria’s federal states:
      • Burgenland: 47
      • Carinthia: 46
      • Lower Austria: 416
      • Upper Austria: 612
      • Salzburg: 269
      • Styria: 325
      • Tyrol: 313
      • Vorarlberg: 68
      • Vienna: 686
  • 1,225 patients with COVID-19 are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 174 of which are getting intensive care. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 979 people in Austria died from or with the virus.
    • Individual hospitals in Vienna, Lower Austria and Tyrol have meanwhile already reached capacity. However, there are still many other hospitals in the country with lots of spare capacity at this point.
  • The virologist Elisabeth Puchhammer-Stöckl from the Medical University of Vienna has warned that the country is losing control of the chains of infection.
    • Detailed analyses in Vienna have shown that “infections are already being acquired in an unclear manner in public space (…),” was Puchhammer-Stöckl quoted.
    • To the Austrian daily Kleine Zeitung, Puchhammer-Stöckl said “more and more people do not know where they infected themselves.”
  • The practice of contact tracing – long seen as the ideal way to break infection chains early – is under strain under the massive count of new cases in recent weeks.
    • In Tyrol, contact tracing will not trace all new infections anymore but just focus on those were a chain of infections can be quickly identified.
    • In Carinthia, the regional government is now looking to hire students to help with contact tracing.
    • Meanwhile, Vorarlberg has accepted an offer of the Austrian Society for Health and Nutrition Safety (AGES) to provide 30 additional employees to help with contact tracing.

October 24, 2020

  • Austria’s ministries reported 3,614 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, a new record.
  • Amid a rapidly escalating second wave, the city of Vienna currently seems to have stabilized the number of daily new infections.
    • According to Mario Dujaković, spokesperson for Vienna’s City Council for Health, Peter Hacker, the reproduction number of the virus (R) has fallen to 1.04 this Friday.
    • According to the Austrian Society of Health & Safe Nutrition (AGES), Vienna was “the only federal state in which the R value fell below 1 on at least one day in the past week.”
  • Vienna Airport and Austrian Airlines made their first test run with the rapid coronavirus antigen tests planned to be rolled out over the coming weeks.
    • Passengers on the flight OS 229 to Berlin were tested.
    • It takes between 10-15 for the results to be available. They will be sent to passengers via e-mail, SMS or can be inquired about at the counter of Austrian Airlines.
    • The rapid antigen test does not replace the requirement for a negative PCR test that many countries have instituted; however, it does help to make flying safer (people who test positive can’t board the train) and gives a strong indication of one’s status.
  • Austria’s 7-day incidence of newly reported cases is now on par with the United States. The second wave also shows on the district level, as comparisons of spring and autumn illustrate.
  • On the weekly updated map of the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC), most of Europe (including Austria) is now colored red, the highest warning level.
    • Only Germany, Greece, Scandinavia and the Baltics are still mostly yellow or even partly green.
  • According to the AGES, there are currently 25,825 active cases of coronavirus in Austria.
    • The number of new cases will be reported at 14:00.
    • However, observers caution that the weekend and the national holiday on Monday may warp the numbers in the next days and that the first completely accurate picture may only emerge again coming Wednesday morning.

October 23, 2020

  • Czechia imposed a new lockdown, valid from Thursday, October 22 to November 3.
    • Strict restrictions on free movement are in place, both within the country and for foreigners coming in.
    • Mask-wearing is mandatory in almost all public settings, people are called to stay home.
  • The Slovakian government announced a strict curfew and partial lockdown starting on November 1.
    • Moreover, antigen tests for the entire population will start shortly.
  • Belgium ordered another lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
    • With more than 10,000 deaths in total, the country is seen as the hardest-hit per capita in the world (even though there are doubts about counting methods in many other countries).
    • On Thursday, the number of new daily infections exceeded 13,000 in the 10-million people country, on par with the extremely high numbers of Czechia and more than in eight-times bigger Germany.
  • In Austria, there were 3,271 new cases reported since the day before as of 08:00 today.
    • This is a new record. The number of positive cases has doubled since October 20 – that’s Tuesday this week.
  • The largest COVID-19 contact tracing study to date found that children are key to spread of the virus and also found evidence of superspreaders playing a key role.
    • A study of more than a half-million people in India who were exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 suggests that the virus’ continued spread is driven by only a small percentage of those who become infected.
    • Children and young adults were found to be potentially much more important to transmitting the virus — especially within households — than previous studies have identified, according to a paper by researchers from the United States and India published Sept. 30 in the journal Science.
    • The researchers found that 71% of infected individuals did not infect any of their contacts, while a mere 8% of infected individuals accounted for 60% of new infections.
    • The researchers found that the chances of a person with coronavirus, regardless of their age, passing it on to a close contact ranged from 2.6% in the community to 9% in the household.
    • The researchers found that children and young adults — who made up one-third of COVID cases — were especially key to transmitting the virus in the studied populations.
    • These findings correspond with a recent report of the Israeli Ministry of Health that said “Children are the engine of the outbreak” (see tweet below for details).
  • The Austrian government’s Corona-Ampel now colors the country mostly in orange and red, the two highest alert levels.
    • Almost all districts in Tyrol, Salzburg and half of those in Upper Austria are red.
    • Vorarlberg, Vienna, Styria, Lower Austria and Burgenland are mostly orange, with some red, yellow and also green areas.
    • Only Carinthia is still mostly yellow, with some orange and green districts, too.
    • The map has completely changed in the last 6 weeks, from one dominated by green to one predominantly orange and red.
    • In total, 21 new districts were switched to red by the Corona-Kommission.

October 22, 2020

  • Germany has put 8 out of 9 Austrian federal state (except Carinthia) on its red list. A travel warning is due to follow soon. 
    • This is seen as a hard blow to Austrian winter tourism, as Germans make up the biggest guest group. 
    • Additionally, Germany will stop testing returning travelers for free. Instead, starting on November 8, travelers from red zones have to enter a mandatory 5-day quarantine. 
    • The Netherlands put 7 out of 9 Austrian federal states on their red list.
  • Today, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Culture Minister Susanne Raab (ÖVP) appealed to the population to refrain from visiting cemeteries together on the upcoming holidays of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day (November 1-2).
    • The archbishop of Salzburg, Franz Lackner, supported this plea.
    • The government advises against family celebrations in the coming weeks.
    • Raab appealed to visit the graves only with people who live in the same household.
    • “The graves will be blessed, even if not as part of a joint celebration,” wrote Kathpress in a statement by the Bishops’ conference to the parishes. Believers should visit the graves but avoid large family gatherings.

 

  • The “baby elephant” as a symbol for keeping distance celebrates its comeback after the corresponding regulation was repealed by the Constitutional Court (VfGH) and has only existed as a recommendation since July.
    • The distance of one meter in public space will now be “anchored as a legally binding requirement again,” said Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Green).
    • Furthermore, “face visors” will not be an adequate mouth-and-nose protection going forward.
  • A record of 2,435  new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Austria in the last 24 hours, as of 09:30 today. According to the AGES dashboard, there are currently 23,226 active cases.
    • Burgenland: 386
    • Carinthia: 538
    • Lower Austria: 2,694
    • Upper Austria: 2,624
    • Salzburg: 1,531
    • Styria: 1,331
    • Tyrol 1,730
    • Vorarlberg: 1,142
    • Vienna: 9,411
  • As of today, 1,002 patients with COVID-19 are being treated in Austrian hospitals, 161 of which are getting intensive care.

October 21, 2020

  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) presented Austria’s updated “SARS-CoV-2 test strategy” in a press conference today at noon.
    • The minister pointed out that the pandemic is still accelerating, the peak of the second wave would still be far off.
    • Anschober saw it as “particularly worrying” that Europe was now once again the epicenter of the pandemic, with a third of new cases worldwide have been reported on the continent in recent weeks – more than in the US, in India and in Brazil together.
    • For Austria, the new record of 1,958 infections today was another warning signal – but, said the minister “not comparable to numbers in spring,” as much more testing was taking place now.
    • Nevertheless, total active cases jumped by 30% in just one week and the number of hospitalized patients is on the rise, too.
    • The number of patients needing intensive care was relatively stable and the spare capacity in Austrian hospitals also in a “good range,” as of now.
    • Finally, Anschober announced that select physicians and dermatologists will offer new fast antigen test for the coronavirus as of tomorrow, Thursday, October 22.
      • While these tests are fast – a result should be available within 15-30 minutes – and relatively cheap, they also have some drawbacks.
      • Health Minister Anschober stressed that they cannot replace the much more accurate PCR test, but complement it.
      • Concretely, the specificity of antigen tests is very high (approaching 100%), while their sensitivity is lower (around 95%).
      • That means that all people testing positive can be practically certain their result is correct; but for those testing negative, there is still a residual chance that they may be positive after all.
  • A record 1,958 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Austria in the last 24 hours, as of 08:00 today.
    • A quarter of these cases were detected in Vienna.
      • Burgenland: 34
      • Carinthia: 55
      • Lower Austria: 341
      • Upper Austria: 328
      • Salzburg: 197
      • Styria: 174
      • Tyrol: 232
      • Vorarlberg: 83
      • Vienna: 514
    • According to the AGES dashboard, there are currently 20,000 active infections in Austria.
    • 889 patients with COVID-19 are being treated in Austrian hospitals, 145 of which are getting intensive care.
  • The Czech government has introduced mandatory mask-wearing also outdoors in all built-up areas.
    • Masks have also to be worn inside cars when traveling with people who do not live in the same household.
    • Exceptions apply when doing sports or when keeping more than 2 meter distance is possible (i.e. in nature).
    • Czech authorities reported 11,984 new cases today, a new record.

October 20, 2020

  • Ministries have reported 1,524 new cases in Austria today.
    • A total of 889 COVID-19 patients are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, an increase of +90 (+11.3%) since yesterday.
    • Of those, 145 patients are getting intensive care, the same number as the day before.
    • Since the beginning of the pandemic, 914 people in Austria have died from or with COVID-19.
  • In Hietzing, Vienna’s 13th district, a big and growing coronavirus cluster around schools has been identified.
    • Out of 333 new cases in Vienna today, 40 can be traced to the boarding school at the Himmelhof. Teaching is suspended for today.
    • The Diefenbach Gymnasium (high school) – of which some students live at the at the Himmelhof – is also affected.
    • At the moment, there are 350 active cases of coronavirus at Viennese schools and 54 at Viennese kindergartens. That compares to a total of 600 schools with 230,000 students and 2,000 kindergartens with about 87,000 available spots.
  • While the number of new cases in Austria are high and rising, the division of new detected infections among the federal states has changed markedly in recent weeks.
    • While Vienna had by far the most new cases in the last months (often half of Austria’s total), it recently only made up between a fifth or a sixth.
    • It thus seems that, at least at the moment, Vienna is flattening the curve.
    • Instead, sharp increases of new cases have been recorded in the federal states of Salzburg, Tyrol and Vorarlberg (see graphs below), where new daily infections even exceeded those in Vienna.
    • Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Styria and even the Burgenland and Carinthia have also seen an uptick in cases, albeit for the moment not as steep.
  • Ireland announced a second lockdown for the next six weeks until December 1.
    • All “non-necessary” shops as well as bars, restaurants and pubs will have to close.
    • A stay-at-home order will be in force for residents, they should only move within 5 kilometers from the place of their residence.
    • Schools and kindergartens will stay open “because we cannot and will not allow the future of our children and young people to become another victim of this disease,” said Irish PM Michéal Martin in a televised speech.
    • Ireland came comparably trough the spring wave of the pandemic, with a harsh and early lockdown suppressing serious cases and deaths to a fraction of those of the neighboring UK (also adjusted per capita).
    • Now, the island is the throes of a second wave, just like most of Europe, with 1,000 new infections reported in the 5-million country on Monday.

October 19, 2020

  • Austria has been set to red on the EU’s traffic light system. Red is the highest warning level in the system, marking the highest number of new cases per 100,000 residents.
  • At a press conference today, the federal government presented new corona measures. These will go into effect on Friday. Here is a quick run-down:
    • No more than six people are allowed to attend indoor meetings (outside of work), such as yoga courses, birthday parties, and weddings. Funerals are exempt from this order.
    • Outdoor meetings are limited to 12 people. No further restrictions apply.
    • At restaurants, the maximum number of people at a table is limited to six.
    • Professional events, such as soccer games or opera performances, are required to have placed seating. Only 1,500 people are allowed outdoor and 1,000 indoor. Masks must be worn during the entire duration of the event. No drinks or food will be offered.
    • If need be, individual states can decide on regional measures, such as mask requirement at public places.
    • Schools and kindergartens will remain open. If need be, they will be closed regionally.
    • A federal curfew and registration requirement has not been decided.
  • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz warned about “exponential growth” of cases in Europe. In Austria, the infections are doubling every three weeks. If we cannot reduce the spread of the virus, we will have 6,000 cases a day by December. His call to the people is: “Please help me.”
  • When asked about the possibility of a second lockdown, Kurz said that there is no specific point at which the country would be shut down. There are multiple factors that must be considered, the most important being that contact tracing still works and hospital and ICU beds are still available.
  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said that the situation in Austria is “worrying.” The proportion of positive tests are “strikingly high.” Nursing homes are also reporting “quite a few” cases, and therefore, officials are working on a new prevention concept. Most recently, the number of hospitalized cases has increased by 49%. We must ensure that the hospital system does not become overwhelmed.
  • AGES found that 3,099 cases reported between Oct. 5 and 11 can be traced to 734 clusters. About four fifths of these cases come from private households or leisure area.
    • 58.8% of the clusters could be traced to families. 20.9% came from from leisere activities and 8% related to sports, travel, hotels, and gastronomy.
  • Since its launch, the “Cluster Busters bus,” which conducts gurgling tests at Viennese schools, has been called 176 times.
    • So far, the team has conducted 4,743 tests, of which only 146 have been positive.
  • 1,121 new infections were reported in Austria within the last 24 hours.
    • With 266 new cases, Vienna recorded the highest increase, followed by 176 in Lower Austria, 174 in Upper Austria, 159 in Styria, 135 in Salzburg, 100 in Tyrol, 53 in Vorarlberg, 30 in Burgenland, and 28 in Carinthia.
    • According to the AGES dashboard, there are currently 18,871 active cases.
    • 799 people are being treated in Austrian hospitals. 145 patients are in intensive care.
    • In total, 919 people have died from or with COVID-19 in Austria since the start of the pandemic.
  • Today students in orange and red-colored districts in Tyrol must switch to “distance learning,” or online instruction. Both parents and students are criticizing this order.
  • Due to high corona numbers, Slovenia declared a 30-day emergency today. This allows officials to order new restrictions and measures to curb the spread of the virus.
    • The country has been in partial lockdown since Friday. In nine out of 12 regions, residents are not allowed their respective area, with the exception of people going to work.
    • Starting today, students in grade six and above are switching to remote instruction.
  • After being taken to the hospital yesterday due to his corona infection, the Secretary General of the PLO Saeb Erekrat has been put on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma. Doctors say he is in a critical condition.
  • Over 12,000 new cases have been reported in Belgium in the last 24 hours. In comparison, Germany whose population is seven times that of Belgium recorded 5,132 new cases.

October 18, 2020

  • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) appealed to the population on Sunday to “stick together to keep the infection rates low.”
    • It is “up to all of us” to prevent a second lockdown by reducing social contacts, refraining from celebrations and large private gatherings, he said in a Facebook video entitled “The situation in Austria is serious.”
    • Tomorrow on Monday, the government will discuss further coronavirus containment measures with the heads of all nine Austrian federal states.
    • Kurz said we were heading for a “challenging autumn and winter,” which will be an “extremely difficult time” including “restrictions, necessary measures and sacrifices” But the chancellor also reiterated his assessment that there should be a vaccine next summer and thus a return to normality.
    • Kurz also talked about the noticeable “corona fatigue” among the population. The chancellor confirmed that the current state of the pandemic, with around 1,000 to 1,500 newly infected people every day, was not yet a problem for Austria’s intensive care medicine.
    • But he underlined that, with the virus growing exponentially, the numbers were doubling every three weeks and could soon pose a problem.
    • Without additional measures and more attention from the population, Kurz deems 6,000 new daily cases in December as likely.
    • “The higher the infection figures, the greater the economic damage in a country,” Kurz noted, referring to Austria’s high dependence on tourism and the high damage caused by travel warnings. The coronavirus “destroys countless jobs and causes a lot of suffering for many people.”
  • Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) also spoke of “warning signals” when commenting the currently high numbers on Saturday.
  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) warned on Friday that the situation in the country was worsening.
    • Anschober showed himself particularly concerned about the increase in the number of hospital patients, the number of infections in some old people’s homes and the rise in the average age of those tested positive.
    • In all districts concerned with higher risk an ever stronger shift of new infections into the private area to small celebrations and parties, to small meetings and in families can be detected, said Anschober.
    • “If we succeed in intercepting and reducing the peaks in these regions, then this is already half the success for development in Austria,” the Health Minister pointed out.
  • 1,672 new cases were recorded by Austrian ministries in the last 24 hours (as of 9:30 a.m.)
    • According to the AGES dashboard, there are currently, 17,961 active cases in the country.
    • 724 people are being treated in Austrian hospitals. 130 are in intensive care.
    • In total, 907 people have died with or from COVID-19 in Austria since the start of the pandemic.

October 17, 202

  • A record of 1,747 new infections were reported in Austria in the 24 hours between 09:30 today and Friday.
    • According to the AGES dashboard, there are currently 17,654 active cases throughout the country.
    • A total of 700 patients with Covid-19 are hospitalized in Austrian clinics, an increase of 36 since the day before (+5.4%).
    • Of those, 124 patients are getting intensive intensive care, an increase of +5 (+4.2%).
    • With cases now rapidly rising across Europe, Germany, some parts of Scandinavia and to a lesser extent Austria are still among those countries with comparably lower cases numbers of new daily infections.
  • A new meta-study of Stanford University looking at a trove of data on COVID-19 mortality statistics indicates that the virus may be more deadly than the flu but less deadly than feared and assumed at the beginning of the pandemic.
    • “Across 51 locations, the median COVID-19 infection fatality rate was 0.27% (corrected 0.23%),” says the paper published in the WHO Bulletin on October 14, 2020.
    • The study is based on a meta analysis of 61 studies (74 estimates) on the number of antibodies that can be detected in populations (a proxy for the share of the population who had the virus) and the numbers of deaths that can be attributed to Covid-19.
    • The paper also concludes that the “infection fatality rate of COVID-19 can vary substantially across different locations” and this may “reflect differences in population age structure and case-mix of infected and deceased patients and other factors.”
    • Overall, an infection fatality rate (IFR) of 0.23% to 0.27% – if accurate – would make COVID-19 about four to six times deadlier than the flu.
    • German virologist Christian Drosten recently estimated that COVID-19 could be up to 16 times deadlier than the flu. Based on available US data, Drosten put the IFR there at 0.8%.
    • Additionally, COVID-19 may also well have the effect of pushing out the flu (see next news item below).
    • One important difference is also that while only a fraction of the population gets infected by the flu every year because previous immunity to some viruses is widespread, no immunity exists for SarS-CoV-2, making the virus potentially more harmful even with a significantly lower case fatality rate. a
    • Another factor to be taken into account are differing hospitalitsation rates, as even a less deadly virus can possibly cause a far greater number of serious cases which require medical attention or even intensive care.
    • Crucially, all these estimates rely on the denominator – the number and share of people who are assumed to have been infected with the virus without being counted or having a severe case (i.e. the “seroprevalence of antibodies” among the general population) – as this makes all the difference for infection fatality rates (IFR). It is still very hard to get reliable numbers for this value.
    • Other scientists have noted that this is exactly one of the weak points, with higher quality studies tending to show a lower seroporevalence, calling some of the assumptions of the meta study into question.

 

  • While countries in the northern hemisphere are aiming to prepare for a winter with both rising Covid-19 and flu cases, a closer look at the experience in the southern hemisphere and during past pandemics may be instructive.
    • As several observers have noted by now, the flu has basically vanished during this winter in the south – the number of recorded cases dropped by -98% and more, despite increased testing rates.
    • While mitigation measures like social distancing and mask wearing were initially thought to have these effects, it increasingly likely that the mere presence of Covid-19 itself is pushing down the incidence of the flu virus.
    • This is consistent with other studies which showed that the infection with one respiratory virus can block infection with another through stimulating the antiviral defense of the body.
    • As news go in this day and age, this might be the bit of good news that would massively decrease the likelihood of a dreaded “twindemic” in which healthcare would be overwhelmed both by rising flu and rising Covid-19 cases.
  • Neighboring Czechia reported more than 10,000 new cases yesterday.
    • The share of tests that yielded positive results stood at 28%, a new record.
    • Currently, 3,120 people with Covid-19 are hospitalized in the 10-million country, over 600 of which are in intensive care.
    • Since the beginning of the pandemic, 1,283 people in Czechia died from or with Covid-19.
  • Today multiple news outlets reported that a record of 828 new corona infections were reported in Vienna. On Twitter, Health Minister Peter Hacker’s spokesperson denied this claim and stated only 599 infections were recorded in Vienna in the past 24 hours.
  • Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement by his spokeswoman Saturday morning. He is currently self-isolating and not experiencing any symptoms.
    • All people that he has been in contact with were notified yesterday afternoon. His closest contacts and all the other government members will be tested today.
    • Schallenberg had attended a meeting of the National Council on Wednesday. However, he wore a mask so health officials believe members of parliament are not at a high risk of being infected.
    • It is believed that he was infected on Monday while at a meeting of the foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
  • The Austrian tourism industry continues to suffer from the pandemic. The Nationalbank (National Bank) (OeNB) estimates a 37% decrease in overnight stays for the month of October in all states. This is an “alarm signal for the upcoming winter season.”
  • The R-value is currently above 1.0 in all Austrian federal states and is estimated to be between 1.13 and 1.16 for the whole country. This means that a person with COVID-19 on average infects between 1.13 and 1.16 others with the virus.
    • The daily increase is around 3.5%.
    • The R-vale is declining in Vienna, where it is 1.06, close to 1.0.
  • To avoid mass gatherings, the Christmas markets in Graz will not have any Punschstände (punch stalls). Visitors can instead enjoy their Punsch or Glühwein at restaurants’ outdoor seating in Graz’s inner city.
  • Last night police had to disband a wedding with 120 guest in Wiener Neustadt in Lower Austria. The event was not abiding by the government’s social distancing and placed seating measures.
  • Due to rising cases in Austria, the Netherlands have expanded its travel warning for the country to include Lower Austria, Vorarlberg, and Tyrol – with the exception of East Tyrol.
    • Travelers returning to the Netherlands from these regions must now self-isolate for ten days after arrival. The quarantine cannot be cut short with a negative corona test result.
    • Previously, the Netherlands had already put Vienna and Innsbruck on its red list.
  • Yesterday Italy reported an alarmingly high number of cases. With more than 10,000 new infections in 24 hours, officials said the state is in an “acute phase,” and “the virus has spread in the whole country.” Further restriction are to be expected.
  • With 11,105 cases in the last 24 hours, Czechia has recorded an all-time high in new infections.

October 16, 2020

  • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz urged the Austrian population to reduce their social contacts the curb the spread of the virus. New restrictions will be announced on Monday.
    • He said, “In other European countries, we are seeing that contact tracing no longer works at a certain point, leading to increasing numbers and lockdown-like measures. We want to prevent this from happening in Austria. To ensure this, we need the solidarity that we had in the spring, which helped us successfully defeat the first wave [of the virus].”
    • Kurz announced that he will be holding a video conference with the Austrian state leaders to decide on further restrictions on Monday. He told APA that the purpose of the meeting will be “to discuss the next steps together and implement the right measures in the nation and within the states.”
    • The ÖVP and the Greens are currently working on a restriction proposals that they will present to the other officials.
  • Due to rising numbers, Upper Austria announced that it will also introduce the guest registration requirement in restaurants and bars.
  • Austrian ministries reported 1,163 new cases in Austria within the last 24 hours.
    • This brings the number of active infections to 16,582 (current standing as of 14:00).
    • 706 people are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals. 122 patients are in intensive care.
    • In total, 901 people have died from or with COVID-19 in Austria since the start of the pandemic.
    • The number of positive cases per 100,000 residents (the 7-day indicator) is currently at 94.
  • The Chairman of the Ampelkommission (coronavirus traffic light warning system commission), Clemens Martin Auer, confirmed that they did not advise any additional federal measures. New measures will only be announced for specific regions.
  • Today the federal government is expected to announce stricter corona measures to combat the spread of the virus, including the extension of the mask requirement and stricter rules for sports and cultural events.
  • Vienna’s City Councilor for Health, Peter Hacker (SPÖ), stated that the number of newly detected cases in the city has decreased for the fifth day in a row in the city. Today, Vienna only reported 230 new cases. Last week, the city recorded over 600 new daily cases on some days.
  • In a press conference, the Mayor of Innsbruck Georg Willi did not rule out a new lockdown in the region. He indicated that if the number of cases does not decrease, new and stricter measures will be announced, including a second lockdown.
  • Last night, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober announced new travel regulations for people arriving in Austria that will go into effect on Saturday.
    • People arriving from non-risk areas must prove that they have been in a safe area in the past ten days.
    • People that have been in a risk area in the past tends need to show a negative test result within 48 hours of arrival or, alternatively, isolate for ten days. The quarantine can be cut short with a negative test result.
  • With 7,334 new cases in 24 hours, Germany recorded the highest number of new infections since the start of the pandemic.

October 15, 2020

  • The Corona-Ampel of the Austrian government has switched four regions to red for the first time since its inception.
    • Concretely, the city of Wels in Upper Austria, Hallein in Salzburg as well as the city of Innsbruck and surroundings (two separate regions) were put on red alert.
    • Vienna remains orange. While Austria’s capital still reports the highest number of new cases among federal states every day, the relative numbers compared to other regions have declined in the last two weeks.
    • Along with Vienna, 19 other regions are orange (the second highest warning level):
      • Oberwart in Burgenland
      • Baden, St. Pölten-Land, Tulln and Wiener Neustadt-Land in Lower Austria
      • Grieskirchen, Ried im Innkreis, Schärding, the city of Steyr and Wels-Land in Upper Austria
      • Salzburg-Umgebung and St. Johann im Pongau in Salzburg
      • Voitsberg and Bruck-Mürzzuschlag in Styria
      • St. Veit an der Glan in Carinthia
      • Imst and Kufstein in Tyrol
    • No fewer than 13 regions were switched from green to yellow:
      • Klagenfurt (city and surroundings) in Carinthia
      • Horn in Lower Austria
      • Perg and Steyr-Land in Upper Austria
      • Tamsweg and Zell am See in Salzburg
      • Deutschlandsberg, Leibnitz, Leoben, Weiz, Murtal, Hartberg-Fürstenfeld and Liezen in Styria
    • For three regions, the risk level was lowered, all in Lower Austria:
      • For Melk and Scheibbs from orange to yellow, for Lilienfeld from yellow to green.
The Austrian government’s Corona-Ampel on October 15, 2020 (c) corona-ampel.gv.at
  • Recent data suggest that Austria and Vienna in particular is again slowly flattening the curve (see tweet and graphs below).
    • While total numbers are still on the rise, the relative increase in new cases has recently slowed.
    • Some observers point to harder measures and clear communication that the situation has become more worrying again as reasons behind the gentle fall in new cases.
    • The absolute number of new daily infections in Vienna has even flatlined and then declined for several days now; it also started to go down in Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Vorarlberg.
    • Other federal states such as Tyrol, Salzburg, Styria and to a lesser degree Carinthia still show a steady upward trend in the number of new daily cases. Burgenland is rather stable on a low level.
    • Nevertheless, the leveling off in the growth rate of new cases could also be short-lived – further attention and study is certainly warranted.
  • Austria’s testing strategy has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks.
    • While the number of daily tests has increased from 5,000-7,000 in the summer to 13,000-17,000 now, the targeting of the tests is controversial.
    • Many people without any symptoms are getting tests due to other reasons – either because they returned from holidays, they work in specific settings or they need one for their employer.
    • The Austrian Society for Infectious and Tropical Diseases (ÖGIT) already criticized one month ago that this strategy paints a distorted picture of the pandemic situation while potentially missing real problem areas.
    • In particular, it binds capacities in laboratories, leading time and again to longer waiting times (sometimes several days) for people who actually have symptoms – even though the situation improved markedly recently on that count.
    • The European Center for the Prevention and Control of Diseases (ECDC) also advices to test fast – results should be available within less than 24 hours – and specifically those people who have symptoms or are most at risk.
    • Test capacities should be focused where they are most necessary (i.e. for people with symptoms, those who had been in contact with them, in the healthcare and care sector), while broad screenings have not proven to have any positive effect.
  • Vienna Airport plans to introduce new antigen fast tests to make traveling easier.
    • Once the system will be set up, flight passengers should be able to take such a fast test directly in the check in area and get their results within 10-15 minutes.
    • “Trial runs with test persons were successful,” said the airport authorities in a press release.
    • Austrian Airlines plans to introduce the tests “in the near future,” said AUA spokesperson Tanja Gruber on Thursday. For flights within Europe, the tests will be offered on a voluntary basis.
    • If somebody tests positive, they will not be able to board a flight. However, as of now, a negative antigen test result would not enough for countries that require a negative PCR test result for entry.
    • “Covid-19 will be with us for a long time to come, and we therefore urgently need solutions that are suitable for the future,” stressed Julian Jäger, member of the Management Board of Flughafen Wien AG. “Rapid antigen tests can be used on a large scale, offer rapid results and could be applied at all airports as part of a uniform testing regime throughout Europe. This would restore the freedom of travel that is urgently needed by the economy and tourism,” Jäger said.
  • Regarding the reported importance of the cT value for the infectiousness of a person, we would like to bring a small correction:
    • In fact, the lower the cT value is, the more infectious a person is.
    • If the cT value goes over 30, a person is likely not infectious anymore.
      • Note: We accidentally reported it the other way around on October 8. Apologies and thank you Mr. Riccardo Alberio, who alerted us to the mistake and gave us scientific advice. If you are an expert and want to share your expertise on a specific topic with us, feel free to get in touch with us to share your knowledge. The best way is to send an email to [email protected].
  • Vienna’s famed Christkindlmärkte (Christmas markets) will take place this year.
    • The market office of the City of Vienna approved the preventive hygiene concept jointly developed by the Christmas markets and the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO).
    • Among other things, all marketeers and guests will be required to wear masks and one-way corridors ought to ensure distance between guests.
    • The maximum number of visitors will be capped and more stewards will make sure the distance rules are followed.
    • The construction of this year’s Christmas markets will start on October 27, they will open shortly thereafter.
    • The city also confirmed that the traditional ice-skating rink is still planned to be built from January 20 to February 28.
  • Austrian official travel warnings for Croatia and Bulgaria were eased today.
    • Austrian authorities said that the situation in both countries has improved, hence they now only designate specific regions as risk areas.
    • People traveling to Austria from a country or region designated as a risk zone have to present a negative Sars-CoV-2 result to avoid a 14-day quarantine.
  • The federal state of Salzburg has put the village Kuchl unter quarantine.
    • The small town with 7,774 inhabitants has recorded steeply rising Sars-CoV-2 infections in recent weeks and days.
    • In other districts – in the Tennengau, Flachgau, Pongau and in the city of Salzburg – all students older than 14 will be taught digitally until November 1.
    • Guests have to leave their contact details when going to bars and restaurants and events without assigned seating are prohibited.
  • In the last 24 hours, 1552 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Vienna.
    • Of those, 480 were detected in Vienna, 295 in Tyrol, 242 in Lower Austria and 224 in Upper Austria, with other federal states reporting lower numbers.
    • According to the AGES dashboard, the number of active cases in Austria now stands at 14,867.
  • With cases on the rise across Europe, yet hospitalization and serious cases still significantly below the peaks of spring, debates on the right measures and approach have erupted in many countries.
    • Cross-country analyses have shown that lockdowns did save lives early this year – projections show that Sweden could have reduced coronavirus infections by half and deaths by a third had it imposed a similar lockdown as elsewhere in Europe.
    • At the same time, other studies showed that softer lockdowns (with the possibility to go to the park, do sports etc.) often did have the same or even better effects than countries with harsher lockdown – this is particularly visible when comparing the very harsh lockdown of countries such as Spain, the UK and Italy with the comparably softer measures of countries like Germany, Austria or Scandinavia as well as Central and Eastern Europe.
    • There are also countries that did effectively stop the pandemic, such as South Korea, which emphasizes detection, containment and treatment, and never went into a nationwide lockdown but still kept case numbers lower than elsewhere.
    • Recently, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Special Envoy on Covid-19, Dr. David Nabarro, also weighed in on the question: “We really do appeal to all world leaders: Stop using lockdown as your primary control method.”
    • “Lockdowns” he said “only provide breathing space to build up your organization” to keep track of the virus and suppress localized outbreaks.
    • Dr. Nabarro adivsed a “middle path” of “holding the virus at bay” while “keeping economic and social life going.” He deemed this “doable” but requiring a “really high level of organization by governments” and a “remarkable degree of engagement by the people.”

October 14, 2020

  • From 08:00 yesterday to 8:00 today, 1,555 new cases of a coronavirus infection were reported in Austria.
    • That brings the total number of active cases to 14,106 according to the AGES dashboard.
    • A total of 654 patients with Covid-19 are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, an increase of +43 (+7%) since yesterday.
    • Of those, 112 are getting intensive care, an increase of +5 (+4.7%).
    • The number of daily tests now oscillates between 15,000 and 20,000, a massive increase since the summer when 5,000-7,000 daily tests were common.
  • New drugs and medication as well as new ways of applying existing ones have helped to reduce the mortality rate of Covid-19 among serious cases by 10-15%.
    • Particularly remdesivir and dexamethason have proved to be valuable at different stages of the illness.
    • Another valuable substance is APN01, which was developed by the Viennese company Apeiron Biologics within the team of Austrian geneticist Josef Penninger. Currently, it is only administered in 15 select hospitals under a special testing clause due to its novelty, general approval may come later this year.
  • Viennese scientists have published a pre-print paper one the number of viruses that made Covid-19 patients sick.
    • Investigating this is important, as for example only one HIV virus element can infect a a person, but several dozens or hundreds or flu viruses are needed to do the same for influenza.
    • For the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2, the scientists now found that Covid-19 patients were infected by 500 viruses before they fell seriously ill.
    • While only indicative so far, this suggests that the viral load is essential in the spread and severity of the disease – strengthening the case for measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, smaller gatherings and better hygiene.
    • These findings could also go a long way to explaining why the current second wave in Europe has so far been significantly less lethal than the first one (see also charts below).
    • While people still get infected in high numbers, the lower viral load may lead to a less severe progression of the illness.
  • The response to the City of Vienna’s free flu shot campaign has been very positive so far.
    • The appointments can be booked via telephone (1450) or online, doctors and health stations have been booked out in recent weeks.
    • Nevertheless, the City assured interested individuals that there will be many more open dates for appointments in the coming weeks and months.
    • The city government purchased 400,000 flu shots with which it aims to more than triple the vaccination coverage rate this year (to about 24%).
    • Doctors and healthcare providers showed themselves confident that everyone who wants to get a flu shot will be able to get one.
  • In Spain’s capital Madrid, one of the worst hit regions in the first wave and also one of the earliest hotspots in the second wave, new infections have gone down considerably.
    • Following a partial lockdown of parts of the city and metropolitan area in recent weeks, the numbers of new infections reported as well as the admissions to hospitals due to Covid-19 are on a clear downward trend.

 

  • The number of active coronavirus cases in Bulgaria has risen to another record.
    • Authorities reported 25,774 active infections in the 7-million people country.
  • The coronavirus is also spreading in Romania, where authorities reported more than 4,000 new daily infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The 19-million people country currently counts over 41,000 active cases, with total numbers rising fast.
    • While travel restrictions apply for foreign citizens, the Austrian and the Romanian government have cut a deal to allow caregivers to travel between the two countries.
  • Meanwhile, neighboring Czechia has recorded 8,000 new cases of the virus in the last 24 hours.
    • Almost half of all cases since the pandemic started were reported in the last two weeks.
    • Currently, there are more than 68,000 active cases in the 10-million people country.
  • The lockdown restrictions in Israel were prolonged until this Sunday.
    • After successfully containing the first wave, the 9-million people country experienced the resurgence of a way more powerful second wave in summer and fall and has been under lockdown in the last two weeks.
    • Newly detected cases have been falling in that period, from peaks of 5,000-6,000 new cases per day to about 2,500 new cases now.

October 13, 2020

  • The Netherlands have announced a “partial lockdown” today.
    • Bars and restaurants will be closed.
    • Events are banned, as are sales of alcohol after 8pm.
    • Face masks are obligatory inside and people can only invite 3 guests at home.
    • While taking a relatively more relaxed approach in the spring, rapidly rising numbers have prodded the Dutch government to take earlier and more severe steps now in the second wave of the virus.
  • Three renowned Austrian doctors warned about underestimating the danger of COVID-19 and the number of available beds in intensive care units.
    • Every fifth patient who is admitted to an Austrian hospital for a corona infection, requires intensive care.
    • If numbers continue rising at an exponential rate, we will soon be at our capacity limit.
  • 1,028 new cases were reported in Austria within the last 24 hours.
    • With 306 new infections, Vienna recorded the most cases, followed by 183 in Lower Austria, 152 in Tyrol, 112 in Upper Austria, 96 in Styria, 74 in Salzburg, 43 in Vorarlberg, 32 in Carinthia, and 30 in Burgenland.
    • A total of 611 patients with Covid-19 are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 107 of those are getting intensive care.
    • In the last three days, the number of hospitalized patients increased by 102, the number of those in intensive care rose by 10 since only yesterday.
  • In Carinthia, the long-time unemployed are now jumping in as contact tracers. 45 qualified individuals are helping the state track down super spreaders.
  • The Greens said they rely on
  • Austria will start its first nation-wide antibody study in mid-November to identify the percentage of the population that has antibodies for COVID-19.
    • The study will be conducted by Statistik Austria in cooperation with the Red Cross and the Medical University Vienna.
    • 5,000 people above the age of 16 will randomly be chosen from a register. Starting tomorrow, the individuals will be contacted by postal mail.
    • Participation is voluntary, but you cannot apply to be included in the study.
  • According to the Austrian Association for Pneumology, the role of children in spreading the virus is overrated. Cluster analyses show that schools are not corona hotspots, and infection is most common among friends and family.
  • Graz is creating a new drive-in test station that is also reachable by foot.
    • The Red Cross test station is situated in a central location in the city.
    • A corona test takes two minutes, and the samples are taken to the laboratory on the same day.
    • Testing is available from Monday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 16 p.m.
  • The Viennese Bonbon ball has been cancelled due to the coronavirus.
  • Hungary reported the highest number of corona deaths in the last 24 hours – 28 new people died from or with COVID-19.
  • After coming contact with someone who is infected with the virus, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is now self-isolating.
  • After the Netherlands reported 7,000 new positive cases yesterday, the government is expected to announce new restrictions tonight. These will be in effect for the next two weeks and will include:
    • Closing cafes and restaurants.
    • Banning the purchase of alcohol at night.
    • Barring people above the age of 18 to engage in team sports.
    • Minimizing the use of public transport as much as possible.
    • Limiting private invitations to three people per household.
  • In France, President Emmanuel Macron is also expected to announce further measures to stop the rapid spread of the virus. Macron will speak on national television tomorrow.
    • On Saturday, France reported 27,000 new infections – a new record.
    • Large cities like Lyon and Paris have declared the highest state of emergency.
      • Bars are closed, and people must adhere to strict hygienic measures in restaurants.
  • Since midnight, new restrictions have been in effect in Italy.
    • Restaurants must shut at midnight, people are no longer allowed to stand in front of bars and restaurants after 9 p.m., clubs will remain closed, and private events like weddings are limited to 30 attendees.

October 12, 2020

  • The Czech government has announced severe measures that some observers say amount to a second lockdown of large parts of the economy, society and daily life.
    • All schools will be closed from this Wednesday (14.10) for almost three weeks, until Tuesday (03.11.)
    • All restaurants, bars and night clubs will be closed, only takeaway will be allowed.
    • It will be prohibited to drink alcohol in public.
    • Gatherings are limited to a maximum of 6 people.
    • Businesses and stores will stay open for the time being.
    • A state of emergency has been declared and will be in force for 30 days.
    • After locking down soon and hard in the spring, the coronavirus situation in Czechia has spiraled out of control in recent weeks. The number of new infections is currently the highest in Europe, with numbers of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 and deaths due to the virus on the rise.
  • The government disclosed that they are currently discussing additional measures to reduce the high number of new infections.
    • “The focus lies on targeted regional measures,” a health ministry communiqué said.
    • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) has been publicly urging stricter measures for weeks, although some observers noted that it his government that ultimately has to take this decision.
    • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) underlined that new measures are “ready in the drawer,” but not ruled out a second lockdown for the foreseeable future.
    • Rumored measures being discussed include an earlier curfew for bars and restaurants at 22:00 in all of Austria, restrictions for private gatherings of no more than 5 people for all regions designated in orange, longer fall holidays for schools and stricter rules for visiting care homes.
  • Austrian ministries reported 979 new cases within the last 24 hours.
    • With 327 infections, Vienna reported the most new cases, followed by 170 in Lower Austria, 130 in Upper Austria, 124 in Tyrol, 72 in Vorarlberg, 49 in Styria, 48 in Salzburg, 30 in Carinthia, and 29 in Burgenland.
    • The AGES puts the number of active cases in Austria at 13,600 at the moment, the 7-day-incidence stands at 81 new infections per 100,000 people.
    • Currently, 561 patients with Covid-19 are hospitalized in Austria, an increase of +34 (+6.5%) since yesterday. Of those, 97 are in intensive care, an increase of +1 (+1%).
    • Since the beginning of the pandemic, 855 in Austria died with or due to Covid-19.
  • The Tennengau region in the federal state of Salzburg has emerged as a new Covid-19 hotspot in recent days.
    • Starting on Tuesday, all events in the district will be canceled by law and severe restrictions for daily life are meant to contain the spread of the virus.
    • Most new infections were detected in the 6,600 inhabitants village Kuchl, but the restrictions will apply to the entire Tennengau, irritating the mayors of some other villages, such as Hallein.
    • The director of the state of Salzburg’s sanitary authorities, Petra Juhasz, sharply criticized the “decreasing personal responsibility of many people” – many would make false statements when asked who they met recently, making the work of contact tracers massively harder.

October 11, 2020

  • 896 new infections were recorded by the Austrian ministries within the last 24 hours (current standing as of 9:30 a.m.).
    • With 295 cases Vienna reported the most new infections, followed by 179 in Upper Austria, 134 in Tyrol, 96 in Salzburg, 49 in Styria, 48 in Carinthia, 34 in Lower Austria, 32 in Burgenland, and 29 in Vorarlberg.
    • 527 people are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals. 96 patients are in intensive care.
    • In total, 851 people have died from or with COVID-19 in Austria.
  • Today, Viennese residents are going to the polls to vote in the city’s municipal elections.
    • Due to the pandemic, 382,214 mail-in-ballots were requested, more than in the previous elections.
    • For the people that are going to a polling station (open until 5 p.m.), remember to wear a mask, keep a one meter distance to others, and bring your own pen and ID.
  • The rising cases in Salzburg are particularly alarming. From Friday to Saturday, the state reported 177 new cases – the most since the start of the pandemic.
    • Salzburg has 218 new infections per 100,000 residents. This is more than Vienna, which records 155 new cases per 100,000 residents.
  • In response to a ZIB report streamed Saturday night, the Health Ministry denied plans for a new lockdown. However, it is likely that new federal restrictions for events and stricter mask requirements will be announced in the coming days.
  • According to Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg’s spokesperson, Slovenia will remove Vorarlberg and Tyrol from its “red list” tomorrow.
    • Starting tomorrow, travelers from the two regions will not be required to provide a negative test result or enter a 10-day quarantine upon arrival in Slovenia.
    • This leaves Vienna as the only Austrian state on Slovenia’s red list.
  • The corona cases are continuing to increase at a rapid rate in Germany, which reported over 4,000 new infections for the third day in a row yesterday. Large cities, such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Bremen, Köln, and Stuttgart are quickly turning into corona hot spots.
  • Italy is considering imposing further restrictions to prevent a second lockdown. The government is expected to make a new announcement as early as tomorrow.
    • After the Italian government introduced a general outdoor mask requirement last Wednesday, it is now considering limiting the number of attendees at events, prohibiting contact sport, and banning standing outside of bars and restaurants starting at 9 p.m.

October 10, 2020

  • The Austrian ministries recorded 1,235 new infections in the last 24 hours (as of 9:30 a.m. today). According to the AGES dashboard, this brings the active number of cases to 13, 177.
    • Vienna reported 511 new cases, bringing the number of active infections to 5,300, which is 212 more than yesterday (standing as of 8:00 a.m. today).
    • 509 people are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals. 99 patients are in intensive care.
    • So far, 852 people have died from or with COVID-19 in Austria since the start of the pandemic.
  • This weekend the City of Vienna is expanding its contact tracing program. Up to 60 additional AGES employees will support the city in detecting super spreaders of the virus.
    • In July, only 170 people worked as contact tracers. Now, the city has employed over 500 employees.
  • According to Die Presse, Vienna is planning to set up testing containers all over the city, offering both antibody and PCR corona tests. The program will be launched at the end of October/beginning November and will be available for the whole winter season.
    • The containers are modeled after the German Fieberambulanzen (fever ambulances) and will be operated by the Ärztefunkdienst (141) (doctor’s service).
    • Doctors will be present on site, can treat patients, and write prescriptions like at normal clinics.
    • The testing containers aim to relieve the overburdened Notfallambulanzen (emergency ambulances).
  • According to AGES, the R-value is again above 1.0. Currently, a person infected with COVID-19 spreads the virus to 1.13 additional people.
    • In the past week, the number of new infections increased by 4.4% daily.
  • The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has developed a new corona traffic model, similar to the one we use in Austria, for entire Europe.
    • The color is determined by the number of infections per 100,000 residents in a certain region.
    • Countries will be divided either into larger regions or states. Austria will be divided into states.
    • Due to the rapidly rising cases in countries like France, Czechia, and Spain, the EU introduced a new color – dark red, which corresponds to 120 cases per 100,000 residents.
      • As a result of the high number of cases in Vienna, the state has been designated dark red.
    • The EU also introduced a new six-level color category for areas reporting 240 cases per 100,000 residents. Individual regions in the UK, France, Spain, and almost all of Czechia have already been assigned this color.

October 9, 2020

  • 1,131 new infections were reported within the last 24 hours, as of 9 a.m. today.
    • According to the AGES dashboard, there are now 12,634 active cases in Austria.
    • 508 people are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals. 103 patients are in intensive care.
    • So far, 842 people died with or from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
  • The government is projecting a budget deficit of €21 billion for 2021.
  • In a press conferences today, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said that the corona numbers are “very high – too high.” However, the rising cases relate to increased testing.
    • As of right now, the average age of infected patients is 37. This is much lower than in the spring, when mostly older people were infected with the virus.
      • Younger patients usually experience milder symptoms. However, even the young are not immune to the virus.
    • For the coming weekend, Anschober urged the people to reduce close contacts, keep distance to others, call friends rather than meeting them in-person, meet outside, ventilate rooms, and to utilize the Stopp Corona-App.
  • Today Switzerland put Burgenland and Salzburg on their “red list.” As of Sunday midnight, travelers who spent longer than 24 hours in these regions must self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in Switzerland. The isolation cannot be cut short, even with a negative test result.
    • Switzerland has now restricted travel from five Austrian states, including Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Burgenland, and Salzburg.
  • Lower Austrian schools reported 105 new corona cases since Tuesday. 48 classes are currently doing “distance learning.”
  • Here are the newest updates for the corona traffic light:
    • The light switched to orange for 10 districts, including Güssing in Burgenland, Völkermarkt in Carinthia, Bruck an der Leitha in lower Austria, Innsbruck-Land in Tyrol, Linz-Stadt, Wels-Stadt, Linz-Land, Vöcklabruck, Gmunden, and Rohrback (all in Upper Austria).
    • The light switched to yellow for Mattersburg in Burgenland, Amstetten and Hollabrunn in Lower Austria, Urfahr Umgebung in Upper Austria, Salzburg Umgebung in Salzburg, and Bruck-Mürzzuschlag in Styria.
    • For four districts, the traffic light was set back to green: Steyr-Stadt in Upper Austria, Leibnitz, Murau, and Hartberg-Fürstenfeld in Styria.
    • No region is currently marked red.
  • After an employee in their campaign team tested positive for the coronavirus, the Greens cancelled their campaign event in the Magdas Hotel, which was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today.

October 8, 2020

  • Austrian ministries reported 1,209 new cases of coronavirus in the country at 09:00 in the morning.
    • This brings the number of currently active cases to 11,641, according to the official AGES dashboard.
    • 506 patients with Covid-19 are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 107 of which are in intensive care.
  • While rising numbers are worrying, experts continue to point out that they are hardly comparable with the situation in spring, when the number of tests was considerably lower.
    • Furthermore, a new study has shown that between 20% and 25% of all people tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 are not infectious.
    • The Austrian Society for Infectious and Tropic Diseases (ÖGIT) therefore calls for a more differentiated approach both to testing and to orders of quarantine and self-isolation – not every positive case is the same, they caution.
    • The relevant figure there is the so-called cT-value, which shows how many virul particles can still be detected in the body. The lower it is the more infectious a person is.
    • Instead, when it goes over 30, a person will still test positive but is not infectious anymore, say experts.
    • Note: This paragraph was amended and corrected thanks to the scientific advice of Mr. Riccardo Alberio, thank you vey much. We are always open for experts in different fields to share their expertise with us!

October 7, 2020

  • Today, the Austrian government presented their support measures for the economy in the coming months.
    • Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) said he expects “a difficult autumn and winter,” with infection numbers on the rise and several sectors of the Austrian economy coming under additional stress.
    • Concretely, the government agreed to prolong its fund for embattled small businesses and farms (the Härtefallfonds) until March 2021.
    • The maximum sum that can be paid out per company under this scheme amounts to €2,500 per month, up to a total of €30,000.
    • Furthermore, a support fund for NGOs as well as another one for artists and freelancers was also extended – according to Kogler this should serve as “backup and protection for the next quarter.”

 

  • Since yesterday, 1,029 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Austria.
    • The number of currently active cases rose by +312 (+3.4%) to a total of 9,519.
    • At the moment, 525 patients with Covid-19 are being treated in Austrian hospitals, an increase of +27 (+5.4%) to previous numbers.
    • Of those, 100 patients are getting intensive care, -1 (-1%) less than yesterday.
    • Five more cases of death with or due to Covid-19 were reported since yesterday. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 808 people died due to the virus.
  • Looking at the 7-day-incidence of new infections as a share of 100,000 inhabitants, all of Vienna and most regions in Lower Austria, Burgenland, Tyrol and Vorarlberg are currently red.
    • The federal states of Upper Austria and Salzburg are more mixed
    • Carinthia has only two red regions and many light green districts, and Styria has currently no red but several yellow, orange and light green regions.
    • For more information check the tweet below or have a look the data base of university professor and data tracker Erich Neuwirth.
  • This regional map – based solely on new infections in the last week – differs considerably from the official “Corona-Ampel” of the Austrian government, which takes a broader array of factors into account (infection chains, cluster tracking, health system capacity, age of infected, serious cases, etc.).
    • For the current status of the official “Corona-Ampel,” check out the picture below.
    • On this map, all of Vienna and most regions in Lower Austria are orange, with most other districts across the country either yellow or green.
The “Corona-Ampel” traffic light warning system of the Austrian government on October 7, 2020 (c) corona-ampel.gv.at

 

  • Belgium will lift the travel warning for Vorarlberg this afternoon, according to a statement of Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Blümel (ÖVP).
    • The number of new infections per 100,000 people stood at 71 in the last 7 days, an improvement to the previous weeks.
  • The Austrian Agency for Health and Nutritional Safety (AGES) went live with a new coronavirus dashboard.
    • Formerly, the Health Ministry and AGES had separate dashboard whose numbers sometimes diverged slightly due to different reporting systems and times.
    • Both dashboards have now been consolidated into one, with an update and consolidation of official numbers.
    • Daily updates of official cases numbers – formerly three times a day – will now only take place once, at 14:00 o’clock.
    • Based on this consolidated data, Austria’s public broadcaster ORF also updated their coronavirus data webpage with more detailed information on the spread of the virus in Austria and in each federal state.
  • The countries of the European Union are inching closer to an agreement on how deal with travel warnings and restrictions in the age of corona.
    • The European Health Agency ECDC will be tasked with creating a map designating regions with colors according to their their infection rates and weekly updated.
    • The EU Commission wants countries to then agree on common criteria for travel warnings and restrictions, based on the ECDC map. So far, every country makes these decisions based on their own – often not transparent – criteria.
    • An agreement is within reach, say insiders.
  • Neighboring Czechia has recorded 4,000 new infections in a day for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
    • Since Monday, a state of emergency is in force in the country.
    • The government plans to distribute 2.9 million face masks at schools and kindergartens. Older students are already being taught digitally at home.

October 6, 2020

  • Scientists at the Institute for Laboratory Diagnostics in Vienna are working on a special corona test for kids: the Lutschertest (lollipop test).
    • Children are supposed to suck on a solid saline solution, which absorbs saliva. Scientists can then take a regular swab to test for the coronavirus.
  • At a press conference today, Mayor Michael Ludwig and WKO President Walter Ruck presented a new digital guest registration system for the gastronomy. It will launch in the second half of October.
    • Since the end of September, guests are required to leave their contact information when visiting bars and restaurants in Vienna.
    • The new digital system will offer guests an alternative to the paper forms. Guests will scan a QR-code with their smart phones, which saves your contact information for four weeks.
    • Ludwig said that the registration is not mandatory, however, it is better than setting a curfew, which he projects would be the death to Vienna’s gastro scene.
  • According to the Education Ministry, 2 Austrian schools and 69 classes are currently under quarantine.
    • So far, the country’s education system has been able to avoid a large corona outbreak. In total, Austria has 6,000 schools and 55,000 classes.
    • The City of Vienna has employed mobile testing teams that are conducting corona tests at the city’s schools.
      • So far, the city tested 2,700 students and teachers, of which only 30 (about 1.1%) tested positive for COVID-19.
  • A study conducted by the Medical University Graz in Styria found that there has been a dramatic increase in deaths due to heart attacks linked to the lockdown.
    • The state recorded 80 percent more deaths related to heart attacks. During the lockdown, around 3,600 patients with myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism and aortic ruptures were treated in Syrian hospitals.
  • 923 new cases were reported in Austria within the last 24 hours.
    • With 399 infections, Vienna recorded the most new infections, followed by 170 in Lower Austria, 100 in Upper Austria, 72 in Tyrol, 52 in Styria, 51 in Vorarlberg, 36 in Salzburg, 27 in Burgenland, and 16 in Carinthia.
    • This brings the number of active corona cases to 9,207 – the highest they have been since April.
    • 498 people are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 10 more (+2%) since yesterday. 101 patients are in intensive care units, the same number as yesterday.
    • So far, 822 people have died from or with COVID-19 in Austria since the start of the pandemic, 4 more (+0.5%) since yesterday.
  • After a close colleague of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, the majority of the government had to get tested for the virus. So far, the ministers’ test results were negative. However, another positive case was identified in the Ministry for Environment and Trrasnport.
    • Kurz and Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler both tested negative. Two ministers did not have to get tested at all.
      • Kurz did not have close contact with the two positive cases. However, he will undertake most of his appointments via telephone or video.
  • Last night, Rumania put Austria on its “red list.” The order goes into effect tomorrow.
    • All travelers coming from Austria are required to isolate for 14 days upon entry.
    • After the eighth day of quarantine, you can get tested for the virus. If the test is negative, you can leave quarantine after the 10th day of isolation.
  • After a member of his office tested positive for corona, the leader of Styria Hermann Schützenhöfer (ÖVP) has entered self-quarantine. He had contact with the infected individual.
  • 18 corona cases were detected in a nursing home in St. Pölten in Lower Austria. Cases are also rising in the state’s other senior care facilities.

October 5, 2020

  • Austrian Airlines (AUA) presented their updated winter flight schedule.
    • The airline will still fly to 60 destinations all around the globe, but taken together with the frequency of flights, this represents a mere 30% of last year’s schedule.
    • Following the pandemic’s grave impact on air traffic, the AUA received a €300 million state loan as well as €150 million in subsidies from the Austrian state and another €150 in “liquidity help” from the mother company Lufthansa.
    • Management showed themselves confident that the airline is ready even for the impact of a second wave, but also underlined that the business next summer will be crucial for the medium term outlook of the company.
  • Vienna’s City Councilor for Health, Peter Hacker (SPÖ), declared that there are “no waiting times anymore” for taking a Sars-CoV-2 test and that there’s “no backlog of tests” to be produced at the moment.
    • The City of Vienna has come under criticism in recent weeks for long waiting times for tests, test results and incomplete contact tracing.
    • As a response, the city government has massively stepped up its testing outreach – among other things with a testing bus and gargling tests being delivered by bike courier – and hired 1,000 new contact tracers.
    • More staff was also hired for the coronavirus hotline 1450, reducing waiting times to under one minute on average, said Hacker.
    • Since Sunday, 315 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Vienna. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 261 people in Vienna died from or with the virus.
  • Vienna’s Votivkirche is now available as a room for studying and exchange for the students of the University of Vienna.
    • In order to ensure adequate social distancing, the university has struck a deal with the catholic church to share usage of the space in October.
    • On Monday, up to 50 students have already taken up the offer. The space is now equipped with WiFi as well as a disinfection dispenser and toilettes outside.
    • The church is also still accessible for believers and masses will still take place, as they are anyway not taking place during the week when the students can be there.
  • The Catholic Church in Austria tightened hygiene measures during church services.
    • Starting this week, it will be obligatory for everyone to wear a mask or mouth-nose protection during mass or other religious celebrations – exceptions only apply if a wide distance can be kept from others.
    • Furthermore, the bishops also issued several further guidelines to ensure higher hygienic standards.
  • Since yesterday, 737 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Austria.
    • That brings the number of active cases to 9,020, an increase of +316 (+3.6%) compared to the previous day.
    • Currently, 488 patients with Covid-19 are being treated in Austrian hospitals, an increase of +12 (+2.5%) since yesterday; of those, 101 are getting intensive care, a decrease of -2 (-1.9%).
    • Since the start of the pandemic, 818 people in Austria died with or from Covid-19, five more cases were reported since yesterday.
  • While the number of active coronavirus cases has stabilized in recent weeks in Austria, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) urged that the country needs to “bring down the numbers” of new infections to get to a more sustainable situation.
    • Anschober pointed to the fact that the reproduction number (R) has fallen to 0.99 in the last week, meaning that one person with the virus infects on average slightly less than another person.
    • But the minister also pointed out that the situation in neighboring countries – which had the pandemic very well under control in the spring – shows how quickly this can change.
      • The so-called “7-day incidence” (i.e. how many people per 100,000 inhabitants are newly infected in a week) stood at 58.5 for Austria this past week, an increase of 1.5% to the week before.
      • In Czechia, the number stands at 150, with an increase of 3.3% to the previous period. In Hungary, the 7-day incidence rose by 3.8%, in Slovakia by 6.1%. Also Western Europe sees rising numbers, as in the Netherlands with +3%, Belgium with +2.7% and the United Kingdom with 2.7%.
  • The number of hospitalizations due to Covid-19 in Austria has markedly increased in the last month (from around 100 to 476 patients at the moment).
    • Counted and detected coronavirus cases higher than at any time previously.
    • However, due to a massively ramped-up testing scheme and advances in medical treatment in the spring, these numbers can also easily be misleading.
    • In fact, the number of hospitalizations with Covid-19 in Austria still stands at less than half of what they had been in March and April (see blue graph below), while the number of patients in intensive care (red graph below) are at a third of spring’s numbers.
    • Cases of death have been on the rise recently, too, but so far more slowly than in March or April.
    • Nevertheless, as hospitalization rates and serious cases usually lag by about two weeks or more compared to active cases counts, heightened caution and personal as well as public measures to bring down the numbers are seen as warranted by many experts.
  • In a recent poll, a quarter of Viennese (26%) said that their city has dealt “worse with the crisis” than the rest of Austria, with 61% seeing a similar performance and 11% maintaining Vienna did better than other federal states.
    • This is a reversal from the spring, when a quarter still thought Vienna had done better than other states and only a tenth thought the opposite.
    • Voters of center and right wing parties (ÖVP and FPÖ) showed themselves to be more skeptical than voters of the SPÖ, Greens and others.
    • Almost all crisis managers got worse grades now than in spring, both on the federal and the municipal level – except for Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ), who got the best grade (1) from 18% of respondents in the spring and from 24% now.
  • The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, communicated in the early morning that she has been exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19 and will thus self-isolate in the coming days.
  • In neighboring Czechia, the state of emergency is in force since midnight due to a “rocket-like increase” in infection numbers.
    • The Czech Republic also instituted a state of emergency from mid-March to mid-May, during the first wave of the pandemic.
    • This time, however, it finds itself among the European countries with the highest rates of new infections per capita – 3,792 new cases were reported on Friday.
    • However, while hospitalization rates and serious cases are on the rise, they are still markedly below those of other countries in the midst of the crisis.
    • According to the new rules, gatherings are restricted to 10 people indoors and 20 people outdoors. Professional sport matches will take place without spectators
  • In Paris, France, the highest coronavirus alert level was activated, forcing all bars in the city to close. Restaurants can still stay open if they follow certain hygiene protocols.
  • In Auckland, New Zealand, all restrictions to contain the coronavirus were lifted. The 4.8 million country is one of the few places that have essentially suppressed the virus completely, thanks to New Zealand’s geographic location and strict measures from the beginning.

October 4, 2020

  • 714 new infections were reported within Austrian in the last 24 hours.
    • With 249 new cases, Vienna recorded the largest number of new infections, followed by 134 in Lower Austria, 127 in Upper Austria, 69 in Tyrol, 34 in Salzburg, 32 in Vorarlberg, 19 in Carinthia, and 12 in Burgenland.
    • This brings the number of active cases to 8,704.
    • 476 people are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals. 103 patients are in intensive care units.
    • So far, 803 people have died with or from COVID-19 in Austria.
  • Due to corona, the ski region Axamer Lizum in the district of Innsbruck-Land in Tyrol wants to remain shut for the winter season.

October 3, 2020

  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said that the high number of new infections corresponds to growing corona-clusters. Anschober again called on Vienna to accelerate its testing procedures and improve its contact tracing management.
  • Today Austria reported the highest number of newly identified cases since March. 1,058 new infections were reported in the country in the last 24 hours. With 474 new cases, Vienna reported an all-the-high in new infections.
    • Lower Austria reported 191 new cases, followed by 126 in Tyrol, 111 in Upper Austria, 52 in Salzburg, 41 in Styria, 26 in Vorarlberg, and 22 in Carinthia.
    • This brings the total number of active infections to 8,578.
    • Currently, 494 people are being treated in Austrian hospitals. 97 patients are in intensive care units.

October 2, 2020

  • To cut down on delays and free up medical personnel, Vienna is introducing a new testing scheme that utilizes easy-to-use gargle tests, which are already being used in schools and the two testing streets at Prater and Donauinsel. However, suspected cases now have a choice: they can either drive to a testing street or stay at home and wait for a bicycle courier to deliver the test, which they can then self-administer; the courier then takes the sample to a laboratory. The delivery service Veloce Liefert has been contracted to offer this supplementary home testing service, promising to add an additional 200 specially trained and -equipped couriers to their existing pool of 80, allowing for up to 1,000 samples per day to be taken.
  • Either way, if you suspect you may be infected, the procedure stays the same – contact the authorities by calling 1450. In addition, Vienna has also opened a third facility for the 1450 hotline with 451 staffers, and the city’s health board has hired an additional 150 to help speed things up.
  • The Wiener Linien have adapted their guidelines today to conform with federal regulations: Now masks need to be worn as soon as you enter a Wiener Linien facility, instead of only once you’ve entered a vehicle or subway platform.
  • In a press conference today, Health minister Rudolf Anschober confirmed that the “numbers have stabilized but are still too high,” with about 600-800 per day. He stated the intent for the next months to halve these figures. He also stressed that the pandemic is both an economic and a public health issue, pointing to the correlation between high infection rates and unemployment.
  • The Corona Traffic Light Commission met last night and decided to officially declare five more districts orange: St. Pölten, Neusiedl am See, Hermagor, Mistelbach, Scheibbs & Hallein today.
  • 688 people tested positive for the coronavirus in Austria within the last 24 hours; this brings the total number of active cases 8,385. 472 people are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 21 less (-4.3%) since yesterday. 100 patients are in intensive care, 2 more (+2%) since yesterday. 803 people have died from or with COVID-19 in Austria since the start of the pandemic, an increase of 1 (+0.1%) since yesterday.
  • A new corona test based on the LAMP (Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification) system has been developed by the Klinik Donaustadt and is being deployed on the city’s “cluster buster” buses to test schools as of yesterday. Unlike a standard PCR test, this novel system promises to be cheaper, easy to use and deliver results within only 35 minutes. On the downside, it’s also less accurate. However, its advantages could make it effective for so-called pooling tests, where an entire group is checked as opposed to individuals – which would speed up the process considerably.
  • The Styrian state secretary for welfare, Doris Kampus, warned that domestic violence is spiking, with the state’s helplines fielding nearly 23,000 calls in the last 6 months. However, the president of the Styrian Association of Women’s Shelters could not confirm the increase.
  • SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner has called for free flu shots for all Austrians to avoid additional strain on the healthcare system.
  • A partial study commissioned by the Ministry of Welfare has shown that government measures and spending have helped ameliorate the worst socioeconomic effects of the pandemic, but also that unemployment and national debt have exploded, with Austria’s GDP set to shrink by 6-7% this year. In addition, the unemployment rate is not expected to recover to pre-coronavirus levels before 2024.

October 1, 2020

  • One month after Austrian schools reopened for the new school year, a total of 1,218 students, 178 teachers, and 51 administrators have tested positive for COVID-19.
    • With 557 students and 64 teachers infected, Viennese schools currently have the most positive cases.
    • Overall, only 0.1% of Austrian students and teachers have caught the coronavirus.
  • Last night the corona traffic light turned orange for St. Pölten, Neusiedel am See, Mistelbach, Hermagor, Scheibbs, and Hallein.
  • Starting today, the City of Vienna is offering free flu shots at different locations across the city. One of which is the Impfbim (vaccine tram).
    • The month of October is almost fully booked, but some locations runs through November. More information on registration can be found here.
  • Due to an increase in demand for flu shots, Austria has ordered 1.25 million doses of the flu vaccine, which is 60 % more than last year.
    • Last year, only 800,000 doses of the influenza vaccine were available in Austria.
  • 837 people tested positive for the coronavirus in Austria within the last 24 hours.
    • With 402 new infections, Vienna reported the most cases, followed by 152 in Upper Austria, 90 in Lower Austria, 70 in Tyrol, 57 in Styria, 47 in Salzburg, 24 in Vorarlberg, 22 in Burgenland, and 9 in Carinthia.
    • This brings the total number of active cases 8,370.
    • 493 people are currently being treated in Austrian hospitals, 3 less (-0.6%) since yesterday. 98 patients are in intensive care, 8 more (+8.9%) since yesterday.
    • 802 people have died from or with COVID-19 in Austria since the start of the pandemic, an increase of 3 (+0.4%) since yesterday.
  • Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler is pushing the City of Vienna to speed up its contact tracing management.
  • A person who flew from Sevilla to Vienna on Sept. 29 and then took the train from Vienna to Judenburg tested positive for COVID-19. All people who came in contact with the individual should self-isolate until Oct. 9.
    • On Sept. 29, the individual traveled on flight FR7337 and sat on seat 27. She then took the CAT from Vienna airport to the Hauptbahnhof Wien, from where she took the Railjet Intercity to Judenburg at 6pm.
  • Carinthia is expanding its testing stations.
    • The testing station in Spittal/Drau will be reopened.
    • Today a new Red Cross testing station will be opened in Villach.
    • Next week, the gargle tests will be launched at Carinthian schools.
  • Neighboring Czechia and Slovakia both declared states of emergency in response to rapid increases in corona cases.
  • With 2,500 new cases Germany marked the largest increase in cases since April.

 

 

For length, clarity and loading times, we decided to split off the timeline of what happened in recent months into several separate articles:

The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in March
The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in April
The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in May
The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in June
The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in July
The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in August
The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | What Happened in September

 

Numbers

As of today, October 27, 2020, the situation in Austria according to the Ministry of Health and the AGES dashboard is as follows:

People tested: 2,125,687
– of which in Vienna: 602,207
Daily tests: 14,112

Confirmed cases: 88,091
– of which in Vienna: 28,434
Active cases: 33,896
– of which in Vienna: 7,806

Total hospitalized: 1,400 (+70 cases (+5.3%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 358
– still available hospital beds: 10,110
In intensive care: 203 (+15 cases (+8%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 75
– still available intensive care units: 651

Recovered: 60,308 (+1,272 cases (+2.2%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 20,628
Deceased: 1,005 (+13 case (+1.3%) since yesterday)
– of which in Vienna: 319

The Ministry of Health has also developed a COVID-19 dashboard with details on the coronavirus outbreak in Austria, listing for example affected regions, age groups, gender and status of the cases.

The privately organized coronatracker also provides up-to-date information on the virus in Austria (in German).

Austrian tech & startup media house Trending Topics has also set up a comprehensive tracking board for the coronavirus in Austria (in German).

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 telephone: 1450

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.

How to wash your hands, properly

The World Health Organization (WHO) as well as national and international health organizations stress how crucial proper hand-hygiene is to slow the spread of the disease.

Make sure that you and everybody around you clean their hands regularly, properly (20 seconds or more) and with soap – soap actually kills the virus.

Reduce physical contact (instead of handshake do an elbow bunch or Vulcan greeting, for instance) where possible.

We will keep updating this page as new developments unfold. Keep safe, keep informed and live long and prosper 🖖!

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

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