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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

A cyclist rides on the Grossglockner high alpine road in Austria. (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)
A cyclist rides on the Grossglockner high alpine road in Austria. (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)
Find out what's going on in Austria on Friday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

Fourth wave of Covid-19 pandemic starts earlier

The fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is starting much earlier than the rise in infections last summer (the second wave), Der Standard newspaper reports.

In 2020, the seven-day incidence three weeks before school started in the previous year was only ten infections per 100,000 inhabitants, this year it is already 51.

There are also twice as many patients in intensive care units (51) as last year (25) due to Covid-19. Austria’s Covid forecast consortium expects the number of intensive care patients is expected to rise to 97 by August 25th.

Risk of infection in Austria is ‘still low’

However, according to Austria’s coronavirus commission, the risk of infection in Austria is still low overall. The risk of infection in the federal states of Salzburg, Tyrol (including East Tyrol) and Vorarlberg is now medium (yellow), and Burgenland has lost its green status.

In total six federal states are rated as having a low risk of infection: Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Burgenland, Styria and Carinthia, according to broadcaster ORF.  

Large scale closures in autumn ‘not necessary’

The next wave will be a wave of the unvaccinated, the epidemiologist Gerald Gartlehner has told broadcaster ORF. However, he and the complexity researcher Peter Klimek, consider it very unlikely that intensive care units will be overloaded.

He says large-scale closings will not be necessary in autumn, though asks may be needed and there could be restrictions on indoor sports and night time catering.

Only one kindergarten per district to receive PCR testing

Vienna will not introduce PCR “lollipop” testing for all kindergarten children, despite a similar concept being developed in Cologne in Germany, broadcaster ORF reports. The lollipop tests used in Austria are antigen tests, which are less sensitive.

Only one kindergarten per district of Vienna will use the PCR tests, a total of 23 kindergartens across the city. 

People infected twice and even three times with Covid-19

Almost 1,500 people have been infected twice with Covid-19 in Austria, with 85 of them not vaccinated, Der Standard newspaper reports. Nine people even appear to have been infected three times, according to Gesundheit Österreich GmbH (GÖG). 

No plans to introduce PCR tests for all at Austria’s borders

Austria’s Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein says he does not want to introduce PCR tests at Austria’s borders “at this point in time” as he does not think it would be effective, Der Standard newspaper reports.

However, more than 300 people who went to the Austria goes Zrće festival in Croatia have been infected with Covid-19, according to Katharina Reich, Director General for Public Health. She urged people to be double vaccinated before going to music festivals, and to isolate and take a PCR test on return.

Opposition calls for ‘Green new deal’

Austria’s opposition centre-left SPÖ party wants a “Green New Deal for Austria” to combat the climate crisis and to achieve climate neutrality in 2040. The challenge posed is “too great to be left to the market,” says party environment spokeswoman Herr.

The costs of climate change in Austria would now be around €2 billion a year. In addition, there is a threat of €9 billion in fines “if we fail to meet our climate targets”, she added, according to the Wiener Zeitung newspaper and broadcaster ORF.


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