CoV on Jan 11-17 | Lockdown Extended Until Feb. 7

The coronavirus is shaping our lives. Here’s what happened in regards to COVID-19 in Austria in the week of Jan. 11-17, 2021.

January 14

News from Austria

  • This weekend, the Austrian government plans to take decisions on the opening steps after the planned end of the lockdown on January 25.
    • Tomorrow, talks with the governors of the federal states and the Social Partners (employer and employee association) should bring more clarity.
    • Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) said the situation is still “extremely volatile” and that is paramount to “proceed with utmost caution.”
    • The chancellor also claimed that, with around 2,000 new cases per day and a 7-day-incidence of 150, Austria is currently “among the top third of EU countries.”
    • Kurz said: “This means that the lockdown, the sacrifices, the measures, had an effect.”
    • Nevertheless, the chancellor sees the situation and particularly the new Covid strain B.1.1.7 as a “massive challenge”
    • The first opening steps may allow schools to return to in-presence teaching in stages and certain shops and retail stores to reopen, potentially with FFP 2 masks becoming mandatory indoors.
    • Further details are to follow on the weekend.
  • Austrian ministries reported 3,510 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The sharp increase reported today is also due to Upper Austria and Carinthia reporting a backlog of cases (about 1,000 cases for each federal state).
    • The 7-day-incidence fell to 149 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total19,4082,0863746,921
Daily change+218-93+7+53
In percent+1.1%-4.3%+2%+0.8%
Daily Tests*RecoveredTested Positive
Total25,286362,931389,260
Daily change+6,471+3,239+3,510
In percent+34.4%+0.9%+0.9%

*daily tests refers to reported PCR tests, rapid antigen tests are not included

People Vaccinated
Total70,367
Daily changen.a.
Percentage of population0.8%

*people who received at least one dose of the vaccine

Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, January 14, 2021.

  • In the British tabloid The Sun, Britons who are said to have trained as ski instructors in Jochberg, Tyrol, are being accused of partying “day and night,” as reported by one of the participants.
    • Meanwhile, the PCR tests of more than 1,000 inhabitants in Jochberg have brought only 4 positive results – 3 from the village’s inhabitants, one more from the British cluster.
    • According to Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens), 70 positive coronavirus cases are currently suspected to have been caused by the CoV-mutation B.1.1.7. in Austria.
    • Of those, 42 cases are in a home for the elderly in Vienna, 17 in the Tyrolean ski resort in Jochberg and 3cases in Burgenland
  • Statistik Austria published its overview of the number of deaths in recent years.
    • As can be seen in the tweet below, the number of fatalities increased significantly in November and December 2020, to the highest number in 42 years.
    • The severe flu waves of 2016/17 as well as 2015 and 2018 also saw increased mortality rates in those years, mostly in January, February or March.
    • In the past year, 90,123 people in Austria died, 10.9% more than on average in the five years preceding 2020.
    • That is what statisticians call “excess mortality,” essentially caused by the pandemic.
    • Life expectancy in Austria fell by half a year in 2020.
      • For men it now stands at 78.9 years, for women at 83.7 years.
    • Statisik Austria director Tobias Thomas expects life expectancy to return to its long-term upward trend once the pandemic has been overcome – this has been the case after severe flu waves of the past.
  • As expected, the curfew will remain in effect until January 24.
    • The corresponding ordinance, which must be renewed by Parliament every 10 days, was approved by the main committee of the National Council of the coalition and the SPÖ.
    • This means that it is still only permitted to leave the house for certain reasons, such as the way to work, for shopping or sports.
    • In addition to the exit restrictions, stores – not selling everyday goods-  and bars will remain closed for another 10 days.
    • Events as well as overnight stays in hotels and other accommodation facilities for tourist purposes are also still prohibited.
    • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) stated: “There have still been between 1,500 and 2,500 new cases every day, and recently the 7-day incidence was 149 “.
    • Anschober also pointed out that the new viral mutation significantly exacerbates the risk situation.
    • The renewed extension was met with incomprehension by the FPÖ and NEOS. NEOS delegate Gerald Loacker sees no necessity to extend the hard Lockdown.
  • The mutated CoV-variant from England could also be in Vorarlberg. The pathological institute in Feldkirch has sent 5 suspected cases to Vienna for further investigation.
    • Felix Offner, the Head of the Pathology Institute in Feldkirch says: “This new variant is not more dangerous, but 50% more contagious”.
    • The proximity to Switzerland also worries the head of the pathological institute, where, according to his information, 6% of all new infections are already attributable to the English variant.
    • 70 suspected cases are currently being investigated. Complexity researcher Peter Klimek warns ORF.at that the window of opportunity for countermeasures is rapidly closing.
    • He pleads for regional movement restrictions based on the German model and better testing possibilities at home.
    • Klimek continues: “The lockdown, which has been in effect since Dec. 26, has not yet led to a sustainable reduction in the number of cases”.
  • Austria has closed 45 smaller border crossings with the Czech Republic and Slovakia as of midnight.
    • “In order to maintain public peace, order and security”, border traffic at border crossing points will be stopped, according to the decree of the Ministry of the Interior.
    • Affected are for example the crossings Gmünd/Ceske Velenice, Hardegg/Cizov and Haugschlag/Smrcna.
    • Austria has been controlling the borders to the Czech Republic and Slovakia since Saturday due to the high number of CoV infections in both neighboring countries.
    • All persons entering Austria must sign a self-commitment to quarantine – otherwise entry can be refused.
    • Only after 5 days can the 10-day quarantine obligation be ended early with a negative Covid test.
    • There are exceptions to entry for commuters and freight traffic. Commuters are not required to test and quarantine.
    • Commuters must show credible proof that they have an employer in Austria upon entry. As of Friday, there is also an obligation to register online before entering Austria.
  • Shortly before the resolution in the National Council, the federal government has apparently reached an agreement with the SPÖ on a procedure for “entry-testing“.
    • The legislative initiative is aimed at the events and tourism sector. Whether the regulation then also applies to the catering trade is still unclear.
    • The ÖVP, the Greens and the SPÖ agreed on the possibility to attend events or take vacations with negative CoV-tests.
    • Also a government fincanced basis for setting up testing and vaccination lines in companies, will be created. Testing will be free of charge for employees.
    • The “living room tests” are also to be appropriately anchored in labor law.
    • On the issue of gastronomy, the Social Democrats saw an assurance from the health minister that no “entry-testing” is planned for this sector, according to APA.
    • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) clarified in a statement, however, that there was no corresponding promise from him.

News from Elsewhere

  • Due to the rapid spread of significantly more infectious CoV-variants, the Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) is bringing forward its next meeting by 2 weeks.
    • The committee will meet as early as today to discuss current developments, the WHO announced yesterday in Geneva.
    • In addition, the emergency committee is to discuss the handling of vaccination certificates and coronavirus tests during travel.
    • Two mutations of the virus, which have been found in the United Kingdom and South Africa, have now spread to at least 50 countries worldwide.
    • In addition, Japan announced Sunday the discovery of another mutation believed to have originated in the Brazilian Amazon. This variant is currently under investigation.
  • According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), within 24 hours, a new record high of 1,244 people have died in Germany due to CoV.
    • The number of deaths rose to 43,881. The 7-day incidence is at 151.
  • The Czech Republic records high numbers of new infections.
    • The 7-day incidence is currently 795.
  • In Slovakia there are suspected numerous cases of the new virus mutation B.1.1.7. and alarming figures.
    • The 7-day incidence of Slovakia is 374.

Go to the next page for news from January 13.

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Amina Frassl
Amina is Metropole's former online content manager. She is a contributing writer, focusing on current news and politics. She recently received her Bachelors' degree in journalism and politics from New York University and is currently pursuing her Masters' in international affairs at Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Current Status

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

The City of Vienna offers free vaccinations without an appointment to everyone – regardless of citizenship or insurance status – at multiple locations across the city. 

Vienna has reinstated a number of coronavirus restrictions for the fall. The Austrian government has presented a plan for schools and universities.  

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

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

Numbers

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

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

Resources

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

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

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

Hotlines

Health advice by telephone1450

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

Coronavirus hotline AGES+43 0800 555 621

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

VKI hotline for travel law questions+43 0800 201 211

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