Coronavirus: ICUs at record capacity in Vienna and eastern Austria

Coronavirus: ICUs at record capacity in Vienna and eastern Austria
ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP
Vienna and Lower Austria are experiencing a record spike in coronavirus admissions in their intensive care units. Here's what you need to know.

The coronavirus situation in the east of Austria has worsened. 

ICU admissions are at record levels in the states of Vienna and Lower Austria, while admissions are also high in Burgenland. 

On Tuesday afternoon, an intensive care patient was moved from Burgenland to the southern state of Carinthia, where occupancy is much lower. Austrian media reports this is likely to be the first of several patients to be moved out of the ICUs in the hard-hit east of the country. 

Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland on Tuesday decided to extend the ongoing lockdown until the 18th of April. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Record ICU admissions in Vienna and Lower Austria

Vienna has just set a grim record for the numbers of patients in its intensive care units since the start of the pandemic.

The city-state’s ICUs include 224 coronavirus patients, the highest number since the pandemic began, reports Austrian news agency ORF. This means 61.5 percent of Vienna’s ICU beds are currently occupied by people with coronavirus. 

In Lower Austria, the 123 ICU patients (59.1 percent of total ICU capacity) is also a record figure since the start of the pandemic.

The situation in hospitals is so bad that the Lower Austria State Health Agency has told people to avoid risky leisure activities such as mountain biking or motorcycle trips to avoid unnecessary hospital trips.

In Burgenland, 21 ICU beds (60 percent of capacity) are currently occupied by coronavirus patients.  

The coronavirus situation is also dire in general admissions.

According to a spokesman for Vienna’s crisis team, a total of 746 coronavirus patients are currently being treated in Vienna’s hospitals (67.2 percent). 

In addition,16 people died within 24 hours in Vienna after being diagnosed as positive for the coronavirus.

Official figures on Austria’s hospitalisation rates can be seen here

Locked down

The dire situation in the east is contrasted with that in the west of the country. 

In Vorarlberg, the state with the lowest infection rates, just three of the state’s intensive care beds (4.5 percent) are being used for coronavirus patients , though the number of people in intensive care has risen from two to six in the past week.

The increase in coronavirus infections throughout Austria has been attributed to the British coronavirus mutation, which according to the country’s traffic light commission is now dominant in every Austrian state

EXPLAINED: How does Austria’s coronavirus traffic light system work

Last week the commission set all of Austria to the highest coronavirus risk level “red” again, including Vorarlberg, the state with the lowest number of infections.

Vorarlberg’s restaurants and cafes are open, and events and school sports are being held although the seven-day incidence has doubled to almost 130 in the past week.

Infection rates falling

A silver lining can be found in Austria’s infection rates, which appear to be on the decline – although officials have suggested this may be to do with fewer tests being carried out over the Easter break. 

The number of coronavirus infections has fallen dramatically across Austria according to today’s figures from the AGES database. The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, is 242.3.

There were 3,235 new coronavirus infections on 1st April compared to 1,993 on 5th April.


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