CoV on Feb. 7-14 | No Further Opening Steps Expected

The coronavirus is shaping our lives. Here’s what happened concerning COVID-19 in Austria in the week from Feb. 7-14.

February 13

News From Austria

  • Bavaria has withdrawn its initial order saying that commuters from Tyrol are not permitted to enter Germany. According to a Bavarian state ordinance that will enter into force tomorrow, people “whose work is urgently required and indispensable for the maintenance of operational processes” are allowed to enter the country. 
    • However, the Bavarian authorities require a corresponding certificate from the employer, employer or client.
  • Despite a ban on numerous anti-CoV rallies in Vienna, more than 1,000 protesters gathered in the inner city at 15:00 to “walk” along the Ringstrasse.
  • Austrian ministeries reported 1,433 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The 7-day incidence is currently 105 per 100,000 residents.
Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total14,2311,3712668,195
Daily change-43-60+4+25
In percent0.3%-4.2%+1.5%+0.3%
Daily Tests*RecoveredTested Positive
Total24,791411,199433,487
Daily change-10,167+1,322+1,433
In percent-29.1%+0.3%+0.3%
*daily tests refers to reported PCR tests, rapid antigen tests are not included
Vaccine Jabs Given
Total413,235
Daily change+7,880
In percent+1.9%
Percentage of population4.64%

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

  • A study conducted in Upper Austria found that there is a negative correlation between population density and the frequency of corona infections.
    • “The more densely populated, the fewer corona cases.”
    • “The lower the density, the more scattered people live – and this is typical for agrarian-dominated, non-urban areas – the more the risk of infection increases.”
  • The President of the Federation of Industrialists (IV), Georg Knill, sharply criticized the CoV crisis management by the federal and state governments. He was disappointed “because the vaccination shows after Christmas raised false expectations at European and national level,” he said in an interview with the news magazine Profil.
    • Knill also criticized the demands of the Chamber of Labor (AK) and the ÖGB for a reduction in working hours, a sixth week of vacation and more wages for employees – which came up increasingly during the CoV crisis.
    • “The demands are job killers, growth killers, wealth killers,” said Knill. According to him, the plans of AK and ÖGB would increase labor costs, solidify unemployment and do not lead Austria out of the crisis.
  • Pensioners’ Association criticized visiting rights in nursing homes. The CoV visiting rules in nursing homes – one person per week for a maximum of 30 minutes – are “inhuman, unbearable and no longer reasonable,” said Peter Kostelka, President of the SPÖ Pensioners Association today.
    • “The visitor restriction ordinance must be quickly revised,” he demanded.
    • A prerequisite for this is that the person visiting is vaccinated, the person visiting has a current negative test, both are wearing FFP2 masks and are keeping their distance and have taken disinfection measures.
    • Under these circumstances, it should be possible to visit more often than before, and more people can come per week.
    • The emotional and psychological situation of the people affected is shocking. “This is about older people who haven’t seen their children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren for months,” said Kostelka.
  • The Health Ministry has amended the entry regulations. Starting today, foreign COVID-19 test results in German and English will also be recognized upon entry.
    • However, test results in other languages still need to be confirmed by a medical certificate.
    • The amendment to the entry ordinance limits the period for mandatory registration to three days before entry. The earliest travelers can register online is 72 hours before arrival. 
    • However, the existing registrations will remain valid until Feb. 18.
  • In the past few weeks, there has been a lot of speculation about how the the B.1.351 virus mutation made its way to Tyrol. Now the authorities have a new lead.
    • According to a report by the Austrian newspaper Tiroler Tageszeitung, a Tyrolean living in Lower Austria could have infected a friend in Tyrol after returning from a trip to South Africa.
    • The acquaintance is the person who was found to be infected with the South African mutation at the end of January.
    • According to newspaper, he was supposed to undergo an operation on Dec. 23 in the Schwaz hospital. He was tested routinely and was symptom-free. This man was previously considered patient 1.
    • Patient 1 had a visit from the Tyrolean living in Lower Austria who had previously been in South Africa for five weeks a few days before his operation.
    • After visiting Tyrol, he developed symptoms at home in Lower Austria and was then tested positive.
    • Gebi Mair, club chairman of the Tyrolean Greens, had repeatedly spoken of a lead in southern Germany, as reported by the daily newspaper Kurier.
      •  There may be some truth in that, too, because the Lower Austrian was apparently not alone in South Africa, but with an acquaintance who comes from southern Germany. 
      • The two flew back from South Africa together, and the German was also infected with the corona. It is not yet known whether his sample still exists.
  • The closed-off Tyrol wants vaccine preference, as it is affected by the contagious South African virus strain. However, vaccination expert Herwig Kollaritsch disagrees. Local outbreaks cannot be combated this way, said Kollaritsch.
  • Currently, Austrian health and nursing staff is not permitted to conduct CoV antigen rapid tests and issue confirmations. The Austrian Health and Nursing Association (ÖGKV) has again called on the government to repeal this regulation. 
    • A “quick, small change in the law” would unlock 156,000 testers at once, the group said in a broadcast. 
  • As restauranteurs, artists, craftsmen are increasingly feeling the consequences of the pandemic, more and more are reportedly seeking debt advice.
  • 55 Viennese businesses participated in the city’s free PRC test pilot project. Employees get tested at home, send results to a lab, and receive the results within 24 hours.
    • Instructions for the test are provided via an app. Saline solution is used to gargle in the mouth.
    • So far, 35 out of a total of 26,334 PCR gargle tests have been positive, that is 0.13%.
    • 200 interested Viennese companies with around 30,000 employees are now gradually being included in the test program in coordination with the medical crisis team.
    • If successful, all Viennese could soon get the free PCR gurgle test.
  • Due to the new COVID regulations, the trains of the Deutsche Bahn (DB) and the Bayerische Regiobahn (BRB) will no longer run to Tyrol.
    • “Due to the new official pandemic requirements for entry and exit, the cross-border transports from DB Regio to Tyrol have been stopped on Feb. 12,” said Deutsche Bahn yesterday. The connections to Innsbruck and Reutte are affected.
    • The BRB trains on the Munich – Kufstein route now turn in Kiefersfelden station on the Bavarian border.
    • “We have to act like this because, according to the latest ministerial regulation from Austria, this time, in contrast to previous regulations, there is no exception for passenger transport,” explained managing director Arnulf Schuchmann. “It is impossible for our train crew to implement the test every 48 hours.”
    • Previously, the Tyrolean Transport Association (VVT) had already interrupted cross-border train and bus traffic between Germany and Tyrol, due to German travel restrictions.
    • Due to the new regulation on virus variant areas, Deutsche Bahn will also stop long-distance traffic to Tyrol from Sunday. Affected is the EC line Munich – Innsbruck – Verona in the direction of Tyrol. The Czech Republic is also affected and thus the Hamburg – Berlin – Prague EC line.

News From Elsewhere

  • The UK virus mutation is continuing to spread at an alarming rate. In Denmark, it is found in more than every fourth CoV sample. In Italy, every fifth person is infected with the UK strain. The portion of people infected with the mutation is also increasing in the United States.
  • The Peruvian Health Minister Pilar Mazzetti has resigned over a vaccination scandal involving the former President Martin Vizcarra.
    • The background to Mazzetti’s resignation are reports that the former president had gotten secretly vaccinated just a few weeks before his impeachment last autumn. 
    • At that time, no CoV vaccine was approved in Peru; the country only started the official vaccination campaign last Tuesday.
  • After a second infection with the South African mutation, a 58-year-old French man is between life and death.
    • “This case illustrates the fact that the South African variant could be responsible for severe reinfection after an initial mild infection” with the classic coronavirus, according to a study published this week in the specialist magazine “Clinical Infectious Diseases”.
  • Poland has temporarily reopened its ski areas for winter tourism on a trial basis. At the beginning of the weekend, ski areas reported a rush on lifts and hotels, especially in the High Tatras in the south of the country.
    • In Zakopane, all accommodation is fully booked, the TV channel TVP Info reported today, citing local hoteliers.
  • Delivery delays are slowing Brazil’s vaccination campaign. Several cities and regions reported delays, and in some cases, the vaccinations even had to be stopped completely.
    • In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second largest city, the vaccine supply is only lasts until today, as the city administration announced. Should there be no supplies next week, the vaccinations would have to be suspended.
    • Two cities in the state of the same name, Niteroi and Sao Goncalo, had to suspend their vaccinations for several days this week.
  • Slovakia will tighten its entry requirements on Wednesday. Starting on Feb. 17, all those entering from abroad, without exception, must enter a 14-day quarantine.
    • The regulation will apply from Wednesday and not on Monday as previously announced, the Slovak health minister told journalists yesterday, according to the Czech news agency CTK.
    • The stricter entry regulations also apply to people arriving from “safe countries.”
    • Those who do not want to quarantine at home can spend this time in state institutions. The earliest possible day is the eighth day.
    • There are exemptions for commuters. As before, truck drivers and employees in bus, train, and air traffic are exempt from the quarantine and test obligation.
    • Previously, travelers could avoid quarantine if they were able to present a negative test result. Despite strict requirements and repeated nationwide testing of the population with antigen tests, Slovakia cannot get the pandemic situation under control.
  • Portugal has extended border controls with Spain. The measures will remain in force until March 1, as the government announced in Lisbon yesterday.
    • Portugal introduced stationary border controls at the end of January and took measures to reduce cross-border traffic. 
    • The train connections between the two countries have been discontinued. Exceptions apply to goods and commuters, among other things.
  • According to an Israeli study that has not been reviewed by experts, vaccination may make infected people less contagious. Apparently, individuals reproduce fewer viruses than people who have not been vaccinated and would therefore be less contagious.

Go to the next page for news from February 12.

Amina Frassl
Amina is Metropole's online content manager. She writes about news and news analysis and is currently completing her studies in journalism and politics at NYU.

Numbers

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

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.