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Austria pushes coronavirus co-operation with 'smart countries'

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Austria pushes coronavirus co-operation with 'smart countries'
Photo: DPA

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Friday he had held a videoconference with several other leaders of smaller, "smart" countries with a view to exchanging ideas on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

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Kurz said the countries concerned were Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Greece, "who like us reacted quickly and intensively and so have come through the crisis better than others".

"The geography (of the countries concerned) is very different but they are smaller countries, smart countries," Kurz said, adding that the conference had focused on "how countries can best start up again, stimulate the economy and keep the virus under control at the same time".

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen confirmed to the Ritzau agency that Denmark was in the group and said it hoped to foster "strategic co-operation to become self-sufficient in protective equipment, medical devices and vaccines".

Kurz also said researchers from the countries in the group would be co-operating on work towards a possible vaccine and other treatments.

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The aim was for the countries concerned to avoid becoming dependent on global superpowers in reacting to the crisis.

Singapore is also part of the group but its prime minister could not take part in the conference due to technical difficulties.

Austria has so far escaped the worst of the crisis with a relatively low number of infections at just over 15,000, and 530 deaths.

After moving into a lockdown in mid-March, three weeks after recording its first cases of the novel coronavirus, Austria has been gradually easing restrictions over the past two weeks.

The latest move in this direction was announced on Friday with a staggered re-opening of schools planned from May 4 onwards.

However ministers have stressed that lockdown measures may have to be re-introduced if infections rates start to climb again.

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