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VIENNA

No Omicron cases in Vienna hospitals so far

There are currently no patients with the highly contagious Omicron variant in hospital in the Austrian capital, a positive sign amid expectations that overall case numbers will rise rapidly, according to Peter Hacker, City Councillor for Public Health, Social Affairs and Sport for Vienna.

People wait in line in front of a vaccination station that is installed at a BILLA Plus (REWE Group) supermarket in Vienna
People wait in line in front of a vaccination station that is installed at a BILLA Plus supermarket in Vienna where the Omicron Covid-19 strain has been the dominant variant since December 26th. ALEX HALADA / AFP

“So far, not a single person with Omicron has been admitted to hospital in Vienna,” Hacker told Austrian newspaper Standard

“This is the case for standard and intensive care wards and is quite remarkable,” he added.

There is a delay before seriously ill patients end up in hospital after becoming infected, but the data for the initial phase of the Omicron wave seems to provide some grounds for optimism.

As of Thursday, a total of 1,870 people had tested positive for the highly contagious Omicron variant in the capital to date, 540 of those cases were from the last two days. Omicron has been the dominant strain since St Stephen’s Day on December 26th.

Hacker is expecting to see record case numbers in January. He did not want to give specific figures, but in response to whether the capital could see 10,000 new infections per day, he said: “it will be like that”.

Inpatients are unvaccinated

Hacker also referenced statistics, which showed that for Vienna “more unvaccinated people were ending up in hospital [with Covid] than ever before”, thereby demonstrating that vaccination worked. 

Around 41 percent of the total population has had a booster vaccination so far and 71 percent have an active vaccination certificate.

From November 8th to 14th, there were 166 unvaccinated inpatients and 39 fully vaccinated inpatients with Covid-19 in non-intensive-care hospital wards. This compares with December 20th to 26th when there were 179 inpatients who hadn’t had a jab and just 19 who were fully vaccinated.

Cut quarantine period
Nonetheless, with case numbers expected to rise substantially in the country, the number of people off sick with Covid-19 or in quarantine could still become a problem even if these don’t translate into high numbers of hospital admissions.

Hacker is therefore calling for the quarantine period to be shortened to five days or a week and for quarantine rules to be relaxed.

Italy, for example, recently announced that it would scrap quarantine rules for vaccinated and recently recovered people who were in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. 

The Austrian Minister of Health was currently looking into relaxing the quarantine rules for triple-vaccinated people. This was announced by Austria’s Chief Medical Officer Katharina Reich on Thursday on Austrian news show Zeit im Bild 1.

A relaxation of the rules would have “to be consistent in a step-by-step approach” and was “quite conceivable”, said Reich, who heads up the Committee of the National Covid Crisis Coordination (Gecko) with Major General Rudolf Striedinger.

The regulations were tightened in mid-December with the arrival of the new variant and the quarantine period was cut again on December 19th. Since then, people who have been in contact with a person infected with Omicron only need to self-isolate for ten days again (down from 14 days under the tighter rules) and can take a PCR test to end the quarantine early after five days if they test negative. 

They are considered Category 1 (K1) contacts.

This is not the case with the previous Covid-19 variants – contacts of these are considered Category 2 (K2) and do not have to self-isolate. They are just asked to reduce their social contacts and be extra alert to symptoms.

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DISCOVER AUSTRIA

Five things to do in Vienna this weekend

Vienna is full of events, places to visit and great new restaurants to try out. If you are overwhelmed with the possibilities or just wondering where you can find a cool event only the locals know of, here are some ideas.

Five things to do in Vienna this weekend

Haus des Meeres

Since it looks like we are heading for a rainy weekend in Vienna, it’s a good idea to check out some interesting indoor places. If you haven’t visited Austria’s aquarium in Vienna 6th district, the weekend is a great time to do so.

The aquarium has several areas, including a crocodile park, a tropical house with free-flying birds and monkeys going up and down, and loads of animals in different tanks. The top floor has a roof terrace and a bar with beautiful views of Vienna.

Here you can find more information.

Free beginner Forró class

How about learning a typical Brazilian dance called Forró? This Saturday, August 20th, from 8 pm to 9 pm, there will be a free beginner course at Jo&Joe Hostel in Vienna’s 15th district.

After the class, DJ Serginho will bring some Latin Vibes music to spice up your evening. The beginners class is free, but you should register beforehand – and wear proper clothes and shoes to dance away during the night.

Here you can find more information.

Veganista

While the weather is still lovely and hot, of course, ice cream parlours are very popular in Vienna. One of the most famous is the vegan shop Veganista, founded by two sisters and with several branches in the city.

Besides being vegan, the ice cream is made with no paste or ice powder mixtures, artificial additives or flavourings. The ice cream is delicious and popular even with non-vegans.

Here you can find more information.

Vienna Classic Days 2022

Every year, old and classic cars parade on the Vienna Ringstrasse, turning the city’s centre into a moving museum. They drive from the Donaupart through Viennese suburbs and the Vienna Woods, then through the first district until Wien Mitte and, this year, around 250 old vehicles are expected.

The drive starts at 9 am on Saturday, but the parade through the first district should be at 3:30 pm and the great drive on Vienna’s Ringstrasse starts at around 5:30 pm. A similar but shorter route is also happening between 10 am and 1 pm on Sunday.

Here you can find more information.

Neustifter Kirtag 2022

The end of summer, just before the start of school, is when several traditional events called Kirtage (kermesse) take place. This weekend, one of the most traditional, with people dressing up in Lederhosen and Dirndl and enjoying a wine fair, is happening in the 19th district.

The Neustifter Kirtag has free entrance and is back after being cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic. A very quintessential Austrian event, there are processions, food and beverage for the entire family from Friday (19th) to Monday (22nd).

Here you can find more information.

Do you know any other cool events happening in Vienna during the weekends? You can email us at [email protected] to share your tips and suggestions.

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