‘Worrying increase’: Austria sees sudden rise in ICU admissions

'Worrying increase': Austria sees sudden rise in ICU admissions
Photo: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP
The number of Austrians in intensive care has risen by almost a quarter over the past two weeks, with experts believing mutations are to blame.

The 23 percent increase came in addition to an 11 percent increase in overall hospital admissions due to the virus. 

A spokesperson from the Society for Anaesthesiology, Resuscitation and Intensive Care Medicine (ÖGARI) said Monday on Monday the British mutation “undoubtedly plays an important role” in the “worrying increase”. 

There are currently 1522 people in hospital treatment due to coronavirus, of which 331 are being cared for in intensive care units.

Health minister Rudolf Anschober is warning of a “pandemic within the pandemic”. 

The 7-day incidence or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, rose again slightly. According to the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), it is 178.6 as of Sunday.

 The number is highest in Salzburg (240.0), Vienna (210.1) and Lower Austria (209.6). The value is still lowest in Vorarlberg (75.5) and Tyrol (124.6).

Mutations to blame as experts warn of potential ‘crisis mode’

Experts believe coronavirus variants – particularly that which was first detected in the UK – are to blame. 

The more infectious British variant of the coronavirus is already causing 58.4 percent of new cases in Austria. 

“The significantly easier transferability from person to person and the higher number of reproductions of this variant has meanwhile been comprehensively proven by scientific evidence. And an increase in infections naturally also leads to greater stress in the intensive care units,” reported ÖGARI President Klaus Markstaller from MedUni Vienna / AKH.

“The situation is becoming much more tense again, even if the strength varies from region to region,” explained Markstaller. 

“If the current trend continues, we will very quickly be back to the point where we have to switch even more strongly to crisis mode: For example, intensive care capacities have to be freed up by postponing planned operations.”

Will this delay restaurant openings? 

The increase may jeopardise Austria’s plans to gradually relax some coronavirus measures from mid to late March. 

As it stands, restaurants in the state of Vorarlberg are set to reopen on March 15th, with the remaining eight Austrian states to follow on March 27th. 


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