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 13

News from Austria

  • The Ministry of Education has today communicated that in-person instructions will resume “in stages” on January 25, not as previously planned on January 18.
    • Before that date, students may only come to schools for tests and if their parents need childcare due to professional reasons.
    • Distance teaching for younger pupils will not be prolonged until the start of the Semesterferien (semester break), as previously discussed.
    • For students in Vienna and Lower Austria, this means a return to in-person instructions for the week of January 25-29, before the semester vacation starts on February 1.
    • The semester vacation starts on February 8 in Burgenland, Carinthia, Salzburg, Tyrol and Vorarlberg and on February 15 in Upper Austria and Styria.
      • Children there will have two and three weeks of in-person instructions respectively before the break.
    • Voluntary CoV rapid antigen tests will be offered to students and teachers (those are faster and easier than the rapid antigen test currently offered).
    • Masks have to be worn in all schools except for elementary schools.
    • School classes will also be partitioned as in the spring to reduce the number of people in one room at any one time.
    • Further details will be elaborated by the district education councils and schools themselves.

  • Austrian ministries reported 1,917 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The 7-day-incidence fell to 157 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total19,1902,1793746,868
Daily change-262-122-24+49
In percent-1.3%-5.3%-6.3%+0.7%
Daily Tests*RecoveredTested Positive
Total18,815359,692385,750
Daily change+1,551+2,130+1,1917
In percent+9%+0.6%+0.7%

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

People Vaccinated*
Total52,925
Daily changen.a.
Percentage of population0.6%

*people who received at least one dose of the vaccine

Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, January 13, 2021.

  • Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) said decisions about the next steps will be taken “in the next days.”
    • Austria’s third lockdown was prolonged until January 24, but it is still unclear when schools will return to in-person instructions and when shops and cultural institutions can reopen.
    • Anschober said this will depend on the trajectory of case numbers and also on the virus mutation B.1.1.7 that is currently spreading rapidly in the UK.
    • The minister added that it was “completely irresponsible, in view of the fact that [the mutation] will possibly also spread here, to persist with the old plans regardless.”
    • Anschober said “the most difficult phase in this pandemic will be in the next few weeks until Easter.”
    • The minister also presented Austria’s vaccination dashboard, where the daily number of vaccine doses administered to people can be tracked.

  • Booking a hotel room for recreation in Austria is currently prohibited by law (it is only allowed for business reasons).
    • But a research by the ORF has shown that it is very easy to book rooms in various hotels in Tyrol, also without giving a specific reason.
    • Interior Minister Karl Nehammer and Tyrolean federal governor Günther Platter (both ÖVP) found that “unacceptable” and vowed tougher controls and fines.
    • The subject is sensitive for at least three reasons:
      • First, because it contravenes the lockdown measures that are supposed to bring case numbers down.
      • Second, because hotels get support from the state during the lockdown and still making (almost) normal business while others shut down and follow the law is highly problematic.
      • And third, because critics have been criticizing the government and specifically the ÖVP both on the federal and regional level (particularly in Tyrol) for a long time for “cuddling the tourism sector” – a claim that gains more credence with these insights.
  • More than 28 million people worldwide have already received at least one does of the CoV vaccine.
    • Side effects have been rare and minor, no long-term effects can be expected.
    • The CoV vaccine is “better” than most other vaccines, said Herwig Kollaritsch, Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Travel Medicine at the Medical University Vienna.
    • “To prevent one case of the COVID-19 disease, you only need to vaccinate four to five people. To prevent one death, 440 people would need to be immunized, and only 56 people among the elderly,” Kollaritsch explained.
    • This compares, for example, to 33,000 vaccinations that are needed to prevent only one severe cases of Meningitis B.
    • Somewhat higher caution is only required for people who have shown strong allergic reactions to vaccinations in the past, but that too is extremely rare:
      • Out of 1,893 million people who received the vaccine in the United States, only 175 showed an allergic reaction.
      • Of those, only 21 had an actual anaphylactic reaction that was treated medically with success and no further complications.
      • Those with a known history of allergic reactions to vaccines should be monitored for 30 minutes after receiving a vaccine jab.
  • The use of FFP2 masks in the public space is currently being debated in Austria and Germany.
    • Neighboring Bavaria made FFP 2 masks mandatory in public transport and shops (when they reopen again) because they provide higher protection.
    • Critics remark that the masks are very expensive (€5-6 per item) and that requiring everyone to have them is thus is a big financial burden.
    • In Austria, similar ideas have been floated. As a first measure, the government provided every resident over 65 of age with ten free FFP2 masks.
    • Experts are also split over the efficiency of the measure.
    • “I don’t think it makes much difference,” said Johannes Knobloch, head of hospital hygiene at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, for example. “In the worst case, the situation may even worsen because people feel more protected and are less careful.”
    • How to wear the FFP 2 mask properly is another question – facial hair make the good fit of the mask much harder. The masks needs to fit completely neat to the skin to properly protect the wearer.
    • “Of course, an FFP2 mask is much safer than a mouth-nose guard, which is also often worn very loosely,” said German virologist Alexander Kekule, but it is crucial to wear it properly and immediately change it when it gets only a little wet.

  • Nearly 53,000 people in Austria have received their first vaccine dose.
    • “When vaccine is delivered to a facility, you can expect it to be used during the next day,” said a spokesperson of the Austrian Health Ministry.
    • That means that 0.6% of the Austrian population have gotten a vaccine jab.
    • By this morning, 130,105 vaccine doses have been ordered by facilities and institutions in Austria so far, mostly nursing and care homes and health institutions.
  • As of Friday, January 15, electronic registration online before entering Austria will become mandatory.
    • The information to be provided is:
    • Name, date of birth, e-mail address
    • address of residence or stay
    • date of entry, date of departure
    • and the countries where you stayed in the past ten days.
    • If the quarantine address differs from the normal residence address in Austria, this must be indicated.
    • The corresponding online form should presumably be available tomorrow, as a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health told APA.
    • The data will be stored for 28 days from the date of entry. After that, the data will be deleted.
    • The registration obligation applies in principle to all persons entering Austria. There are exceptions, for example, for regular commuters, for transit travelers or for persons who enter the country for family reasons that are particularly worthy of consideration.
    • The data of the online registration are automatically forwarded to the district administrative authority (Bezirksverwaltungsbehörde) responsible for the place of stay in Austria.
    • The electronic registration requirement is intended to help improve quarantine control and facilitate contact tracing.
    • It remains the case that entrants must enter a ten-day quarantine, which they can end at the earliest after five days with a negative test.
    • Currently, only Australia, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea and the Vatican can enter the country without a quarantine obligation.

Go to the next page for news from January 12.

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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.