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 8

News From Austria

  • The debate on the next measures for Tyrol is still ongoing.
    • The regional government of the state and Austria’s federal government are now expected to present their respective measures and solutions separately.
    • Tyrol presented a “package of measures” to contain the virus mutation known as the South African strain (B.1.351), which seemingly spreads faster in Tyrol than elsewhere.
      • Among other things, using cable cars and lifts will now only be possible with a negative coronavirus test result, akin to being a customer for services.
      • More free testing, contact tracing and strict controls should help contain the mutation.
    • A few hours later, the federal government presented its own package of measures, including among other things a “travel warning” for Tyrol.
      • “The new virus mutations present us with major challenges, so far-reaching measures are now needed,” Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) said.
      • Specifically, the government advises against non-essential travel to Tyrol and asks that non-essential travel to the state be avoided.
      • People who have been in Tyrol in the past two weeks are asked to get tested.
      • Tyroleans traveling to another province are also asked to get tested before traveling.
  • Vienna’s test roads and test centers are strongly booked today.
    • For services “close to the body” (e.g. hairdressers, massage studios), a negative coronavirus test result not older than 48 hours is necessary since today.
    • Vienna offers rapid antigen tests at several locations, the city has also said that it will expand its test offering.
    • Some of these locations were booked out, others strongly booked as well – overall, all locations were booked to 79.2% today.
    • More than 200 pharmacies in the city now offer free rapid antigen tests as well.
  • Austrian ministries reported 1,057 new infections in the last 24 hours.
    • The 7-day-incidence fell to 104 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Active casesHospitalizedIn intensive care (ICU)Deaths
Total13,5621,5712788,032
Daily change-212+11-12+20
In percent-1.5%+0.7%-4.1%+0.2%
Daily Tests*RecoveredTested Positive
Total24,244403,302424,896
Daily change+36+1,249+1,057
In percent+0.1%+0.3%+0.2%
*daily tests refers to reported PCR tests, rapid antigen tests are not included
Vaccine Jabs Given
Total307,357
Daily change+9,864
In percent+3.3%
Percentage of population3.45%

Source: Austrian Ministry of Health, February 7, 2021.

  • Today, February 8, Austria’s third hard national lockdown ends (here are the details).
    • Obligatory social distancing in public is now 2 meters.
    • FFP 2 masks are mandatory in all public indoor spaces and on public transport.
    • Shops and stores can reopen with at least 20 m² of space reserved per customer.,
    • Most services can reopen too, but clients have to bring a negative coronavirus test not older than 48 hours for services “close to the body” (e.g. hairdresser, massage, etc.).
    • Schools reopen with a new “shift system,” regular mandatory testing for students and teachers and masks for older pupils and all teachers.
    • People from two households will now be allowed to meet in private.
    • The night-time curfew (20:00-06:00) stays in place.
  • Several shops and stores have announced big discounts for their reopening today.
    • It is the first time the retail sector can fully reopen since December 26. Shops were also closed in November.
    • Experts call on people to be sensible and keep following the distance rules as well as wear an FFP 2 mask.
  • The debate on the next steps for Tyrol is still ongoing.
    • The “South African variant” of the virus (B.1.351) is spreading in the western federal state.
    • The federal government and the regional government could not agree on the next steps, despite talks until late at night.
    • That is why the easing measures will also apply in Tyrol – for now.
    • The Austrian daily Kronen Zeitung had reported last week that the government was weighin a “partial isolation” of Tyrol to contain the virus variant.
    • Local politicians countered that Tyrol was simply one of the first federal states to start sequencing virus samples (and thus found B.1.351 earlier) and should “not be punished for being early.”
  • The one-jab Johnson & Johnson vaccine is currently in a rolling review of the European Medical Agency (EMA).
    • On January 24, interim results of the Janssen-Cilag vaccine were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
    • Among the 43,783 participants in the study, half of whom received placebo, a protective effect against Covid-19 disease was seen as early as day 14 after vaccination.
    • After 28 days, the overall protective effect was 66%. In the U.S., it was 72%, in Latin America 66%, and in South Africa 57%.
    • Crucially, protection against severe disease and death was much higher.
    • Furthermore, since only one jab of the vaccination is needed, a faster rollout would also be possible with this vaccine.
  • More than 400 pharmacies in Austria have now started to offer free rapid antigen tests on the coronavirus.
    • The Austrian Medical Chamber has compiled a PDF of all pharmacies across the country offering this service.
    • The pharmacies ask interested clients to pre-register online (where available) or per phone, in order to avoid long queues or overburdened facilities.
    • We compiled for you an overview and a map of the COVID-19 testing facilities in Vienna.
    • A negative coronavirus test result is now mandatory for using services “close to the body.”
    • It is also obligatory for many workers in specific sectors and for teachers and students at schools.
  • The 7-day-incidence in Austria rose slightly to 107 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
    • That is double the value of 50 that the government had originally targeted for opening steps.
    • The incidence has stabilized for over a month now.

News From Elsewhere

  • South Africa paused its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
    • While the vaccine has proved itself to be efficient against the “wild type” of the virus, recent studies and experiences have suggested it is less efficient against the new “South African variant” (B.1.351) of the virus.
    • The British-Swedish company has said it is already working on an updated version of its vaccine together with the University of Oxford.
    • Other vaccines – the ones based on mRNA technology by Biontech-Pfizer and Moderna – have so far proved very high efficacy also against B.1.351.
    • Notably, all vaccines massively reduce the risk for a severe course of the disease and the risk of death.

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.