January 5, 2021
- All of Austria’s federal states will offer permanent free testing for the coronavirus in the coming weeks and months.
- Originally, the federal government had planned another round of “mass testing” on the weekend of January 17 so that people could “test themselves free” (Freitesten) to go to shops, restaurants and cultural events.
- The opposition rejected this strategy of Freitesten, effectively prolonging the lockdown for everyone until January 24.
- That also called the strategy of mass testing on one weekend into question.
- As a replacement, the federal states and the federal government now agreed to set up “permanent testing infrastructure” across the country.
- The rapid antigen tests will be free, organization of the tests and registration differ in every federal state.
- Vienna has been following a strategy of a permanent testing infrastructure already since late summer, when it started to test travelers for free.
- Austrian ministries recorded 2,311 new cases in the past 24 hours.
- For the first time in a week, 100 deaths have been reported in Austria, and the 7-day incidence of new infections has been rising again since last Monday.
- The 7-day-incidence of new infections in Austria has risen to 169 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
|Active cases||Hospitalized||In intensive care (ICU)||Deaths|
|Daily Tests||Recovered||Tested Positive|
Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, January 5, 2021.
- Great Britain’s and South Africa’s new COVID strains have been detected in Austria for the first time.
- The genetic material of the virus variants were found in samples taken at the Vienna-Schwechat airport. Among the 5 affected are 3 children.
- The British B.1.1.7. mutation has now been detected in 32 countries, said Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) at a press conference on Monday.
- Among them are now also 15 European countries – including Austria.
- The fact that the British mutation has now been found is not a coincidence, Anschober continued, but rather the result of a “targeted search” for it.
- The Health Minister stated: “Around 1,800 sequencing tests have been carried out in Austria to date. This should now be intensified.”
- Anschober resumed: “Strict entry controls will be maintained in any case.”
- Head of the Public Health Department at AGES, Franz Allerberger, explained that the South African mutation had been detected in a 30-year-old Austrian woman on Dec. 6.
- The variant from the United Kingdom was first detected in a 12-year-old girl after returning on Dec. 18.
- On Dec. 21, detection occurred in a man who arrived in Austria on one of the last flights from the UK before flight traffic was temporarily stopped.
- In addition, two Slovakian siblings aged 9 and 10 had contracted the viral mutation.
- There are no indications of a widespread spread, said Andreas Bergthaler of the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (CEMM).
- Bergthaler explained: “The mutations have not yet been detected in wastewater samples from sewage treatment plants.”
- He continued: “That the new variants will have a negative impact on the effectiveness of CoV vaccines is unlikely.”
- The debate about the pace of vaccinations is heating up in Austria.
- After receiving a first batch of 10,000 vaccine doses in late December, it now emerged that some federal states – such as Vienna – have used their batch fully while others – such as Carinthia – have not used any of their vaccine doses so far.
- See tweet below for more details (in German) about how many doses the federal states have used so far.
- Furthermore, the Health Ministry’s vaccination coordinator Clemens-Martin Auer was quizzed about Austria’s vaccination strategy and said that vaccinations will only continue once a “critical mass” of vaccine doses will be available in the country.
- Starting next week, vaccinations will resume “across the board” in over 9,000 elderly and care homes across the country.
- Altogether, 110,000 vaccine doses were delivered to Austria so far.
Go to the next page for news from January 4.