What is Austria’s new five-colour Covid traffic light system?

What is Austria's new five-colour Covid traffic light system?
There are now five colours in the covid traffic light system. (Photo by DIETER NAGL / AFP)
Austria altered its coronavirus traffic light system aimed at managing the pandemic in different parts of the country. It now features five colours.

The traffic light system, first rolled out in August 2020, changed on Wednesday with a new “very low risk” category added, creating five categories of risk rather than the previous four. 

The new category was added to reflect the course of the pandemic and the increased vaccination and test capacity of Austria’s population, the official commission in charge of the system stated.

The previous “low risk” level is now coloured yellow-green. 

On June 2nd, 2021, the Corona Traffic Light Commission rated the whole of Austria as “medium risk” or yellow. You can see the risk level by individual state by clicking on this interactive map.

What does each colour mean?

The levels are now: green (very low risk), yellow-green (low risk), yellow (medium risk), orange (high risk) and red (acute). 

A region will be green where there is very low risk, defined as up to five new infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

A region will be yellow-green where there is low risk due to individual cases and heavily isolated clusters

A region will be yellow where there are individual cases but the clusters are less isolated, or medium risk.

A region will be deemed orange where there has been an accumulation of cases and clusters are no longer traceable. 

Finally, a region will be deemed red – i.e. high risk – where the outbreaks are uncontrolled and the virus is widespread. 

How are decisions made? 

Austria’s coronavirus traffic light system was launched in August 2020 as a preventative tool to manage risks and assess the need for pandemic containment measures, such as  testing and contact tracing.

An expert committee, with input from Austria’s Coronavirus Commission, the Health Department and the Chancellery will decide whether a region needs to be made a particular colour. 

The committee takes into account a wide range of factors in making the decisions. 

In addition to considering local infection rates over seven days, the traffic light level also takes into account factors such as: 

  • Hospital occupancy
  • Traceability of infection chains
  • Testing rates

The Corona Commission does not have the power to make political decisions as it is an advisory body.


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