Austria hits record daily number of Covid cases

Less than a week after the country relaxed most Covid restrictions, 47,795 new cases were recorded in Austria on Wednesday.

A health worker prepares a coronavirus antigen rapid test at the new coronavirus test center in the Orangery of the Schoenbrunn Palace. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)
A health worker prepares a coronavirus antigen rapid test at the coronavirus test center in the Orangery of the Schönbrunn Palace. Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP.

Austria has posted a new record number of coronavirus infections, totalling 47,795 cases in 24 hours, according to data from the country’s Health Ministry. 

This comes on the same day that the alpine country announced its decision to scrap a mandatory vaccination law that would have imposed fines starting at €600 to people who have not vaccinated against Covid-19.

The record number also comes in less than a week after Austria lifted most Covid restrictions.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Austria to remove most restrictions from March 5th

On March 5th, nightclubs reopened for vaccinated people throughout Austria. Most of the country also removed requirements to show proof of vaccination or recovery (2G) and even testing (3g rule) to enter bars and restaurants.

Vienna, however, kept the 2G rule for gastronomy and the FFP2 mask mandate indoors. 

The capital’s Mayor Michael Ludwig was one of the people who pointed out that the record number of new cases came in tandem with the reopening.

“The number of infections is at an absolute record level. Removing the protections was a mistake. I have always warned about this development! We will continue to follow the consistent path in Vienna”, the SPÖ mayor tweeted

Corona in numbers

The Health Ministry recorded 47,795 cases in 24 hours, with 2,764 people in hospitals with the virus (four more than the day before) and 182 in intensive care units.

Since the pandemic began, 15,113 people have died with corona, 42 of them in the last 24 hours. 

Austria is one of the countries with the lowest vaccination rates, with 69.47 per cent of its population fully vaccinated and 75.79 per cent partially vaccinated. In the last seven days, 17.39 per cent fewer doses were given than in the same period before. 

UPDATED: Austria to scrap mandatory Covid vaccinations

The vaccination mandate law came into force early in February, but the rates have not risen significantly since then.

There were no sanctions against the non-vaccinated, though, that would’ve come in mid-March before being suspended by the federal government. 

As life reopens for everyone, with few or no restrictions or health measures, and the mandate falls, politicians and specialists warn of possible repercussions with rising infections, and the possible arrival of new variants in autumn.

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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.”