Austria hits all-time high for new Covid infections

Austria recorded more new cases of Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours than at any time since the start of the pandemic, as the government debates the best measures for curbing the fourth wave.

An intensive care doctor prepares outside a patient's room
An intensive care doctor prepares outside a patient's room. Photo: Christof Stache/AFP

On Wednesday, 14,416 new cases were added to the total, well above the seven-day average of 12,164. This pushed the seven-day incidence rate (new cases per 100,000 people) to 953.

The most new cases were reported in Upper Austria (4,423) followed by Lower Austria (2,294).  

Covid-19 in Austria:

There are currently 2,723 patients being treated for Covid-19 in hospitals, which is an increase of 155 more than Tuesday. Of those, 486 are in intensive care units — an increase of 28 in one day and 73 in one week. 

Austria has stepped up its Covid-19 measures in a bid to curb the fourth wave, introducing a ten-day lockdown for unvaccinated residents on Monday, a measure which was originally tied to reaching the threshold of 600 Covid-19 patients in intensive care but was brought in after doctors and other experts sounded the alarm about strain on the healthcare sector.

Since the start of the pandemic, 11,848 people have died of Covid-19, including 271 new deaths in the last week and 41 in the last week alone.

Although vaccination against the virus does not completely remove the risk of catching or spreading the virus — and its protective effect reduces over time — unvaccinated people are at higher risk of serious illness.

By November 9th, 83 percent of all symptomatic cases recorded in November were in unvaccinated people, and the incidence rate was more than twice as high among unvaccinated people than vaccinated, according to Health Ministry data.

Earlier in November, the ministry said that of the Covid-19 patients receiving intensive care treatment, 75.7 percent were not fully vaccinated against the virus, even though in the general population unvaccinated people make up only 35 percent of the population.

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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.”