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COVID-19 STATS

Europe tops 100 million Covid cases

Europe has recorded over 100 million coronavirus cases, more than a third of all infections worldwide, since the start of the pandemic, an AFP tally Saturday showed.

Health workers stands near a Covid-19 rapid antigen testing area near The Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Health workers stands near a Covid-19 rapid antigen testing area near The Eiffel Tower in Paris. France alone has recorded over one million new cases over the past week. BERTRAND GUAY / AFP

The continent has once again become the pandemic’s epicentre in recent months, and is battling an upsurge of cases spurred on by the highly transmissible Omicron strain of the virus.

The European region, including 52 countries and territories from the Atlantic coast to Azerbaijan and Russia, has recorded 100,074,753 infections of Covid-19 over the past two years, an AFP tally of official figures showed at 1845 GMT on Saturday.

That is equivalent to more than a third of the 288,279,803 cases declared worldwide since the outbreak of the pandemic in late 2019 in China.

Of the European infections, more than 4.9 million have been reported over the past seven days alone, with 17 out of 52 countries or territories beating their previous record of most cases in a single week.

France alone has recorded more than one million new cases over the past week, which is equivalent to 10 percent of all positive cases it has announced since the start of the pandemic.

The countries with the highest ratio of infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the world were all in Europe. Denmark scored worst with 2,045, followed by Cyprus with 1,969 and Ireland with 1,964.

AFP’s calculations are based on official figures, but some infections could have gone undetected, for example, if patients were asymptomatic.

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Covid-related deaths are, however, decreasing in Europe.

Europe recorded on average 3,413 coronavirus deaths a day over the past week, a seven percent drop from the previous week. At its worst, that average saw 5,735 deaths a day in January last year.

People on the European continent are now, on the whole, more vaccinated than the worldwide average. 

Sixty-five percent of Europeans are partially vaccinated, while 61 percent are fully vaccinated — more than 58 and 49 percent respectively worldwide, according to the “Our World in Data” website.

The below chart from Our World in Data shows the proportion of people who are fully vaccinated in countries covered by The Local.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the World Health Organisation estimates the overall death toll worldwide could be two to three times higher.

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COVID-19 STATS

Ba.4 and Ba.5 Covid variants detected in Austria: What you need to know

Austria has detected new subvariants Ba.4 and Ba.5, with cases reported in Vienna, Styria and Salzburg so far.

Ba.4 and Ba.5 Covid variants detected in Austria: What you need to know

The pandemic is not over, as we repeatedly hear the Austrian authorities saying. The news that sub-variants of the coronavirus have been found in the country has led to some concern.

Here is what we know so far about the pandemic situation in Austria.

New variants BA.4 and BA.5 in Austria

Austrian media reported that the new Covid-19 sub-variants known as BA.4 and BA.5 have been detected for the first time in the country.

The city of Vienna has reported its first cases to the Ministry of Health, and some individual cases were also identified in Styria and Salzburg. 

READ ALSO: UPDATED: The latest coronavirus restrictions in Austria

Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said that the omicron sub-variants provide slightly more infections than the currently dominant variant BA.2. There is a suspicion that they could be better at avoiding the body’s current antibody defences against Covid-19.

However, this is viewed as a sign that the current downward trend seen in the number of infections could slow down, but not that it would stop or that the infection rate would go up again. 

There is also no indication so far that the variants first identified in South Africa create a more severe disease course. 

Should we be concerned? 

Not according to specialists. Health authorities in Austria are “monitoring the situation very closely, but it doesn’t worry us at the moment”, Mario Dujakovic, spokesman for the Vienna Health City Councillor, said.

READ ALSO: Five possible winter scenarios for Covid-19 in Austria

“There is currently nothing to suggest that we should be concerned, but it certainly makes sense to keep a close eye on things. So we will continue to do this: monitor the situation closely and decide together with experts what to do if the worst comes to the worst. “, he said.

He also shared a graph showing that wastewater analyses all over Austria have come back with less viral material – a sign that the virus is less prevalent overall, new mutations or not.

Mask obligation to stay at least until July 8th

Austria currently has very few coronavirus restrictions in place. However, there are 3G (vaccinated, recovered, or tested) rules for entry in the country, some measures for visitation to hospitals and care units, and, most generally felt by the broader population, a mask mandate in some indoor areas.

READ ALSO: Austria to keep masks only in ‘essential places’ from April 16th

Those who visit or work in essential trade, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, still have to wear FFP2 masks in these establishments. In addition, the mask mandate is still in place for hospitals, care homes, public transport and their stops, taxis, and government authorities, among a few others.

These requirements have been criticised, as The Local reported. The Austrian Chamber of Commerce called for an end to the requirement and complained about the “unfair” restriction, which falls only to those dealing with essential trade. 

Since April 16th, the federal government has lifted the mask requirements for most indoor areas, including non-essential trade. 

READ ALSO: Austria extends Covid regulations as experts warn of an autumn resurgence

However, Health Minister Johannes Rauch has already rejected the demand, at least for the time being. The minister said that the uniform regulations, including the FFP2 mask obligation, should stay in place at least until July 8th. 

He mentioned that it is important to be “vigilant”, especially concerning the newly emerging omicron variants and possible development. 

Numbers are falling but expected to stabilise

Austria this Thursday reported 5,755 new infections after 157,301 PCR-Tests, according to the Health Ministry.

There are currently 1,077 people hospitalised with Covid-19, 34 fewer than in the previous 24 hours. Additionally, 84 people are in intensive care units due to the disease. 

READ ALSO: Austria recommends Covid booster shot for children aged five and over

The alpine country has recorded 18,222 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, 22 in the last 24 hours.

Just about 68 per cent of the population has a valid vaccination certificate for Covid-19 vaccines, and 54.9 per cent have had their booster shot. 

The Ministry expects that soon the number of cases in Austria will stop falling and gradually reach a stabilisation period, Der Standard reported. Also, in a few days, less than 1,000 corona-infected people would need intensive care or regular beds because of the disease.

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