Austrian village sealed off due to coronavirus mutation cluster

Austrian village sealed off due to coronavirus mutation cluster
A village in Tyrol will be completely sealed off for everyone except commuters for at least one week to contain the spread of the South African coronavirus variant.

The Austrian village of Mayrhofen in Zillertal will be sealed off after 29 cases of the South African coronavirus mutation were found there.

There are currently 42 active positive cases of coronavirus among the 4,000 inhabitants of the village. 

Anyone who wants to leave Mayrhofen will have to show a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours.

All residents will be tested twice using a PCR test between Friday and Wednesday.

Schools will remain closed until Wednesday and switch to distance learning. Shops will also close apart from grocery stores, pharmacies and drug stores.

The isolation measures come after both the Mayrhofen kindergarten and New Middle School reported cases of coronavirus, at least one with a suspicion of the “South African” variant.

Increase significantly

The authorities are already expecting the number of South African coronavirus cases to increase significantly in the coming days.

The decision to seal off the village was decided in a meeting of the Tyrolean task force on Wednesday morning  in order to prevent further spread of infections through the regions.

Police controls should ensure compliance with the measures

For the first time the FFP2 mask requirement will be extended to “defined public places” throughout the Schwaz district, after new legislation by the Ministry of Health. Discussions are still ongoing as to how this should be implemented.

Mass testing unpopular

Mass testing in the Tyrol region has so far proved unpopular, ORF reports. Of 40,000 gargle tests issued, only 4,000 were returned.

The Mayor of Fügen, Dominik Mainusch, said the tests were too time-consuming.

The authorities had asked those taking part to film themselves on a phone or computer so test subjects’ identities could be checked, and this had acted as a deterrent. 

Tyrolean virologist Dorothee von Laer has warned testing measures to combat the South African variant were not working, and were a “bit late”.    

The Schwaz district had a seven-day incidence of 173.1 on Tuesday, according to AGES. 

Priority vaccines

She has joined the governor of Tyrol Günther Platter and Green politician Gebi Mair in calling for  people living in the Schwaz area to be given priority vaccines, to enable the virus to be brought under control through herd immunity. 

Schwaz district captain Michael Brandl has said testing in Schwaz should be increased, as around 100 of the 238 active coronavirus cases are from people who display no symptoms. Requiring a negative corona test for skiing has helped increase willingness to test among the population. 

There are around 84,000 inhabitants in the district. The number of tests carried out so far is just under 50,000, according to Brandl.


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