Covid-19 in Austria: Follow the latest developments as they happen

Catch up on the latest Covid-19 news and current statistics in The Local's roundup as they happen throughout the week.

Covid test packaging
Employees of the company LifeBrain Logistik dispose of the empty packaging of samples of the coronavirus (Covid-19) PCR gargle test in Vienna on February 1, 2022. - Throughout the day, vans loaded with bags full of Covid PCR test kits arrive at a Vienna laboratory, currently analysing an average of 370,000 tests per day. The laboratory is the backbone of Austria's gargle system aimed at making it easy for those in Vienna to test for the new coronavirus frequently -- and free of charge. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Overview of the Covid-19 situation in Austria

As of February 9th the 7-day incidence rate (new infections per 100,000 people) was 2,553. Carinthia (3,010) has the highest incidence, followed by Tyrol (2,954), while Vienna (2,268) and Lower Austria (2,196) have the lowest rates.

A total of 422,227 people in Austria are currently positive for Covid-19 as of February 9th, with 1,898 people being treated for the disease in hospital outside ICUs, according to AGES. An additional 187 Covid patients are currently in intensive care.

A total of 6,773,439 people (75.8 percent of the total population) have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, according to the Health Ministry, and 6,199,831 (69.4 percent) have a valid vaccine pass as of February 8th.

Wednesday, February 9th

Salzburg’s regional governor has said he is “sceptical” about Austria’s vaccine mandate, and called for the law to be reviewed.

Around a third of the people who died of Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021 lived in care homes.

Austria’s Covid Forecasting Committee has said they believe the current wave has reached a “plateau” phase, with no significant further rise in cases expected, though a slight increase in hospital admissions due to the virus is likely.

Tuesday, February 7th

The government today announced more relaxations of restrictions to come into effect from Saturday: the upper limit on event attendees will be removed, and the 3G rule will replace the 2G rule in hairdressers and beauty salons. Read more on the changes here.

Monday, February 7th

Over the weekend, Austria extended the 10pm curfew for restaurants and bars to midnight.

Austria’s vaccine mandate came into force on Saturday, and the government clarified exactly which medical conditions make people exempt from the requirement. Five vaccines not approved by the EMA will be considered compliant with the rule, but not the Sputnik jab. Instead, two Sputnik doses will count as one dose, meaning that most people will need to get an additional dose of a different vaccine.

How does Austria compare to its neighbours?

The chart below from Our World in Data shows how the number of reported daily Covid cases in Austria compares to those in neighbouring countries.

Note that case numbers depend on rates of testing as well as the prevalence of the virus, so this is not necessarily a true comparison of the spread of the virus in each country.

Do you have a question about Covid-19 in Austria? Contact our editorial team at [email protected] and they will get back to you and do their best to help.

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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.