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 11

News From Austria

  • In view of high infection figures despite the lockdown and the continuing spread of different virus variants, concern is growing about a new major pandemic wave.
    • In Germany in particular, this possibility has been discussed for some time. In Austria, too, experts warn that a new surge is only a matter of time.
    • In recent days and weeks, concern has spread throughout Europe that a major new wave of infection is building up unnoticed.
    • The different virus variants pose major obstacles to global planning in the fight against the pandemic.
    • In Austria, two mutations have been confirmed so far: B.1.1.7, which first appeared in Great Britain, and B.1.351, first discovered in South Africa and now mainly present in Tyrol.
    • The variant B.1.1.28, which first took hold in Brazil, has not yet been discovered in Austria.
    • What all three have in common is that they are more infectious than the wild type and can thus spread more rapidly.
    • In addition, in the case of B.1.351, there is a strong presumption that the vaccines used to date are less effective.
    • Whether the race against the virus variants can be won at all is doubted by quite a few experts.
    • Gerald Gartlehner, epidemiologist at Danube University Krems and a member of the Traffic Light Commission, told ORF’s “Report” on Tuesday that Austria has already wasted a lot of time.  
    • He expects a third wave in Austria in March, Gartlehner told ORF.at. “I think in March we should prepare for it, if the assumptions of the models are correct.”
    • But in these models, he said, the “South African” variant has not yet been factored in at all, so they only refer to the “British” one.
    • The current relaxation in Austria is a “game with fire,” Gartlehner told APA last week.
    • SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner also criticized the opening steps in light of the mutations and a possible third wave.
  • Austrian ministries reported 1,577 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The 7-day-incidence dropped to 100 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total13,8461,5112658,138
Daily change+319-53-2+24
In percent+2.4%-3.4%-0.7%+0.3%
Daily Tests*RecoveredTested Positive
Total50,444407,155429,139
Daily change+10,136+1,234+1,577
In percent+25.1%+0.3%+0.4%
*daily tests refers to reported PCR tests, rapid antigen tests are not included
Vaccine Jabs Given
Total360,727
Daily change+14,506
In percent+4.1%
Percentage of population4.05%

Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, February 11, 2021.

  • “Trouble’s brewing” at the Vienna AKH (General Hospital).
    • In an online petition addressed to the hospital management, nursing staff are protesting against the fact that only the vaccine from AstraZeneca is currently being vaccinated.
    • The originally intended product from Biontech and Pfizer is no longer being offered.
    • Parts of the medical profession are also rebelling.
  • In total, just under eleven million tests have been conducted in Austria since the start of the pandemic, the Chancellor’s Office said. The trend continues to rise sharply.
    • The sharp increase is due to the fact that the proof of a negative test since the beginning of the week is a prerequisite, for example, for visiting hairdressers.
    • The demand ensured that the drive-in at the Austria Center in Vienna was already fully booked on Saturday up to and including Monday.
    • Monday was also the peak testing day throughout Austria: 310,611 antigen and PCR tests were reported to the SKKM crisis team (State Crisis and Disaster Management).
    • On Friday, the figure was still far lower at 87,206.
    • Soon more than 1,000  free testing facilities will be available throughout Austria. Currently, around 490 permanent testing stations and almost 700 pharmacies are involved.
    • Around 260,000 student self-tests were conducted on the first day of school. Approximately 2.2 million tests are expected to be completed there every week.
    • As of Monday, the company tests will also be subsidized by the federal government to the price of 10 euros each; 493 companies with 254,108 employees are already registered.
    • Vienna is further increasing its CoV test capacities.
    • 2 new test lanes go into operation:
      • as of today, people can already get tested at the Ferry Dusika Stadium.
      • From Saturday, this will also be possible in the Therme Oberlaa parking garage.
  • Police broke up a CoV party with 20 people in an Innsbruck student dormitory during the night.
    • The young people claimed not to know about coronavirus restrictions such as mandatory masks and distances. All of them were reported to the police

News From Elsewhere

  • Ireland today placed Austria on a red list with tightened entry restrictions. Reuters cites coronavirus mutations detected in Austria as the background.
    • In the future, people entering Ireland from Austria will have to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine. Testing oneself free is not possible.
    • Until now, the stricter entry rules applied only to South Africa and Brazil.
    • Now Austria, the United Arab Emirates and sub-Saharan African countries have been added to the list of countries where variants of the coronavirus occur.
  • Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has acknowledged mistakes in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, while defending the lockdown extension agreed the previous day.
    • In response to signs of the second wave and warnings from various scientists, she said, “we did not shut down public life again early and consistently enough.”
    • In her government statement, Merkel called the extensive extension of drastic measures against the pandemic “appropriate, necessary and proportionate.”
    • Merkel and the prime ministers of Germany’s states had decided the previous day that the lockdown would be extended until March 7.
  • Due to high infection rates, the Czech Republic has isolated 3 border districts from the outside world.
    • Those who live there are no longer allowed to leave the respective district, Health Minister Jan Blatny said today in Prague.
    • People from outside would not be allowed in. The districts affected are Cheb, Sokolov and Trutnov.
    • In these districts, the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants is 3 to 4 times higher than in other parts of the country.
    • The measures were to take effect tomorrow night.

Go to the next page for news from February 10.

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.