MAPS: Where are Austria’s coronavirus hotspots?

Coronavirus infections are again on the rise in Austria. Here are the current hotspots.

Where are Austria's current coronavirus hotspots? CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP
Where are Austria's current coronavirus hotspots? CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP

At the end of January and through the start of February, Austria’s seven-day incidence rate was hovering around 100 per 100,000 inhabitants. 

Since the middle of February however it has been on the rise. 

The seven-day incidence, or  the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, rose to 165.8 as at March 4th. 

Even in the past few days, the number of infections has risen rapidly.

The districts of Hermagor (665 infections per 100,000 residents) and St. Johann im Pongau (480) are currently hardest hit. 

The British variant, which is particularly strong here, means people are being found to be contagious even after 10 days of quarantine, according to Austria’s Kurier newspaper.

Wiener Neustadt is another hotspot.

At the other end of the scale are Innsbruck-Stadt (42) and Innsbruck-Land (43), Rust (51) and the city of Krems (52).

Steep increases in Lower Austria and Burgenland

Austria’s nationwide seven-day incidence of 165.8 is driven by new infections in the east of the country, after last week being primarily driven by infections in the western states of Lower Austria and Burgenland. 

Lower Austria (207.3 infections per 100,000) and Salzburg (204.9) both had infection rates above 200, while Vienna was tapping on the door with 184. 

The lowest infection numbers are in Vorarlberg (73.8) and Tyrol (107.3). 

The following map, correct as at March 3rd and based on official numbers, shows where the infection rates are the highest. 

Why are infections on the rise? 

In an interview with Austria’s Der Standard newspaper on Friday, February 26th, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said the stronger the rise, the less likely it is that there will be openings in the short term. 

Anschober said it was unlikely the rise in infections was totally connected to the relaxation measures introduced at the beginning of February, and was more likely to be driven by the rise of the British mutation of the virus.

In Vienna, the British variant is now more dominant than known variants of the virus. 

READ MORE: British coronavirus mutation now dominant in Vienna

In eastern Austria this more contagious variant already accounts for well over 50 percent of new infections.

He also said some of the rise in reported infections could be down to more testing.

Austria has promised to allow restaurants with terraces to open from March 27th nationwide – and from March 15th in Vorarlberg. 

The openings are conditional on infection rates remaining low. 

Explained: Everything you need to know about Austria’s plan to ease lockdown

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”