Coronavirus: How Austria plans to avoid a second lockdown

Coronavirus: How Austria plans to avoid a second lockdown
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz with Bavarian leader Markus Söder. Photo: Sven Hoppe / POOL / AFP
Researchers in Austria said education rather than harsher bans would be most effective in preventing a second wave of the coronavirus - and a second lockdown.

In preventing a second lockdown in Austria, a new Policy Brief has shown that “education, transparency and recommendations” rather than “threats and bans” would be most important. 

The report showed that the virus was most likely to be transmitted at small gatherings and that the Austrian public should be informed of this so that they can make adjustments to their behaviour. 

The authors however noted that the core message of maintaining hygiene while testing and tracing represented the basis of the battle against the virus. 

“The basis for successful prevention is therefore the basic rules of conduct – distance, hygiene, wearing masks etc. – as well as effective testing, tracing and isolating suspicious cases,” the study found. 

’No pseudo-science’ in coronavirus battle

The Complexity Science Hub Vienna, which produced the report, has said the most important way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus was to prevent activities where people in small groups have “long-term contact with one another”. 

Schools (particularly at higher levels), shops, bars, offices and cafes should be closed in order to minimise this type of contact. 

“Measures to restrict private celebrations and similar events should therefore have priority, before widespread curfews or school closings are considered,” said the researchers. 

However Peter Klimek, who put together the study, told Kurier a range of “less drastic measures” should also be taken. 

Klimek said some of the more common measures, such as mask wearing, were shown to be effective and should therefore be encouraged as much as possible. 

“In view of such results, it is all the more surprising that a 20 percent reduction in infections by simply wearing mouth and nose protection is not considered to be very effective in some places.”

We need to avoid “pseudo-science”, Klimek said. 

These measures also included ensuring infected people were separated from non-infected people in medical facilities and nursing homes, which had not always taken place since the outbreak of the virus. 

Klimek said that major events should be cancelled and travel restrictions should be put in place, while financial support should be available to all members of Austrian society. 

While many middle-class Austrians were able to work from home and/or isolate in the case of an infection, poorer people were unable to do so – risking the further spread of the virus. 

‘Avoiding an overload of the health system’

The researchers said Austrian authorities should not be complacent about healthcare capacity. 

The authors said Austrian hospitals would be overloaded “with around 4,700 to 7,800 new infections daily”. 

The average daily cases in Austria over the past 14 days is 900, however it is rising. 

Klimek said there was no need to be concerned, even amid rising case numbers. 

“The overwhelming majority of scientific findings clearly state that there is no need to be alarmed in the case of marginal increases in the number of cases, nor to allow the epidemic to run uncontrollably.”

 


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