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

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The Biathlon World Cup in Hochfilzen, Austria this week. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Austria to recommend booster shot to over-12s

Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein made this announcement at a press conference on the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 on Tuesday, where together with other government representatives and scientific experts he predicted that there would be a fifth wave of the virus in Austria in January driven by Omicron. The new recommendation is expected to be approved by the National Vaccine Committee later today — currently only over-18s are generally eligible for booster shots.

Mückstein also appealed to adults to get their booster before Christmas if possible, based on UK data that shows people who had received three vaccine doses (or two doses in addition to having previously recovered from the virus) had a higher level of protection from the new variant than those who had received two doses. So far Austria has confirmed 59 cases of the variant.

Memorial for Covid-19 victims and counter-demonstration planned for Sunday

A silent memorial for Austria’s more than 13,000 Covid-19 victims is planned for this Sunday, with every participant expected to carry a candle or torch and remain silent. It will take place on the Ring road in Vienna at 4.30pm.

The event has received police proposal and is also intended as a counter-balance to the protests that have gathered huge crowds across Austria in recent weeks and sometimes turned violent — though the organisers of the memorial said they did not intend their event as an “endorsement” of government measures either.

Suspected trafficker arrested after two deaths in Burgenland 

In October, two dead bodies were found in a minibus at the Austria-Hungary border when police searched the vehicle, finding around 30 other migrants packed inside. The driver fled the scene during the checks.

Now, the alleged bus driver has been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, Burgenland police said. They describe him as a 19-year-old from Latvia, who was arrested in his home country. Police said they have identified and taken into custody a further 12 suspected human traffickers as a result of the investigation.


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