Austria: Vienna’s ‘coronavirus traffic light’ downgraded to orange

Due to low case numbers, Vienna's coronavirus traffic light has been downgraded from red to orange. What does this mean for the lockdown?

Austria: Vienna's 'coronavirus traffic light' downgraded to orange
Photo: DPA

For the first time since the beginning of November, not all of Austria is in the red zone for coronavirus under Austria’s traffic light system.

On Thursday evening, the corona commission decided to switch Vienna to orange.

The commission also recommended the districts or states take stricter measures regionally in Salzburg and Carinthia, the federal states with the highest seven-day incidences of coronavirus, as well as Tyrol, due to new virus mutations detected there. 

EXPLAINED: How does Austria's coronavirus traffic light system work? 

The commission has long been aiming for a minimum target of 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Vienna has been below 100 cases every day since 19th January, and on 3rd February had 97 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Burgenland, Upper and Lower Austria also fall below the 100 cases target. 

While the number of cases are rising in Syria, in Vienna the numbers are stagnant and elsewhere in Austria they are falling.

Tyrol falls in the middle of the country ranking with a minimally downward trend. 

In addition to considering local infection rates over seven days, the corona commission also takes into account hospital occupancy, traceability of infection chains and the test positivity rate in the region when deciding the traffic light level.

Cross-border commuters and returning travellers are also taken into account. 

Vienna is the state with the best result in the so-called risk-adjusted quota, Wiener Zeitung reports, followed by Upper Austria and Burgenland. 

Could this lead to a relaxation of restrictions? 

While the decline in infections is no doubt a positive for Vienna residents, it will not mean an earlier end to the state's lockdown – at least not yet. 

On Monday, February 1st, the Austrian government decided to extend the lockdown until the end of February – although some measures were relaxed. 

When making the announcement however, the government said it was committed to ensuring all the measures applied across the country – cutting the likelihood that Vienna itself may be allowed to relax. 

EXPLAINED: How Austria's coronavirus restrictions are about to change

Although Vienna turning orange will have no practical effect on residents, it was requested by the city as a symbolic measure.

Voting did not take place on the separate districts of Austria, which remain red, but only, at the request of Vienna, on the states, Wiener Zeitung reports.  

When it came to voting on the commission’s decision, the ministry of interior affairs and education and the Chancellery abstained, as did Lower and Upper Austria and Styria, according to APA.

The western federal states, the Ministry of Health and the experts supported Vienna’s change to orange.

All of the federal states agreed that the other states should stay red, with Styria abstaining.

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EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

Austria's capital city Vienna has begun registration appointments for those who want to get a monkeypox vaccine. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

As of September 9th, people can make reservations for monkeypox vaccination in Vienna, authorities announced. It is possible to register for the vaccine using the health service line by calling 1450 or via the Impfservice website.

The City of Vienna has said the pre-registration is needed because all planning will be done through a central system due to a shortage of vaccines.

“Please understand that due to the vaccine shortage, we cannot offer preventive monkeypox vaccination to everyone interested. We can use the reservation platform to quickly allocate available appointments and contact interested parties as soon as there are more vaccines”, the authorities said.

After the registration, people will be contacted to book appointments on September 14th. The first available date will be September 19th.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Who should be vaccinated against monkeypox?

Vaccination of the general population is currently not recommended.

Preventive vaccination is only offered to health care workers with a very high risk of exposure to people with monkeypox (designated monkeypox departments/outpatient clinics/offices) and persons with individual risk behaviour (persons with frequently changing sexual contacts), the City of Vienna said.

The health authorities in Vienna also have a specific information sheet in English with more information on the disease.

Monkeypox is a notifiable disease caused by a virus closely related to the smallpox virus and which can cause a condition similar to smallpox but rarely deadly. People with immunodeficiencies, pregnant women and children are at risk of more severe symptoms.

The virus spreads from person to person through contact with infectious skin lesions, via air droplets through speaking, coughing, sneezing, or other body fluids, and when having prolonged and close physical contact, e.g. through sexual intercourse.

READ ALSO: Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Usually, the first symptoms show up 5 to 14 days (at the latest, 21 days) after exposure. These include fever, general exhaustion, headaches, muscle and body aches, gastrointestinal problems and frequently painfully swollen lymph nodes.

“If you have symptoms and have had contact with someone with monkeypox, you must self-isolate at once and call 1450. If you have a confirmed monkeypox infection, you need to stay in self-isolation until the last crust has fallen off”, the Austrian authorities added.