Eleven days after significant relaxations were announced in Austria, the numbers of new Covid cases are sky-rocketing, with a record 58,583 registered in 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry.
There are currently 3,033 people in hospitals due to Covid (46 more than yesterday) and 221 people in intensive care.
Austria has one of the highest hospitalisation rates in Europe at this point, only behind Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Estonia, and Bulgaria.
Austria has also recorded 28 deaths from the virus in a day, bringing the total number of victims to 15,289 since the pandemic began. The alpine country has made little progress in terms of vaccination, with just 69.35 per cent of the total population fully vaccinated.
Fewer tests, fewer positives?
According to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and Johns Hopkins University, only Iceland and Liechtenstein had a higher incidence of infections per 100,000 inhabitants than Austria in a comparison of 46 European countries.
It is worth noting that some European countries have relatively low rates of testing in comparison to Austria, broadcaster ORF said.
This Tuesday, 15, however, the federal government announced Austrians will be entitled to five PCR and five antigen tests per month, in a departure from the unlimited free tests currently available.
The record numbers have been registered after the country lifted most Covid-19 restrictions almost two weeks ago.
Since March 5th, Austrians don’t need to show a Covid pass with proof of vaccination, recovery, or negative test in most establishments. The mask mandate has also mostly fallen throughout the country.
Except for the capital Vienna, that is, where Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) has kept the 2G rule for gastronomy and general mask requirements for indoor areas.
As the country reached record Covid case numbers, many politicians in the federal government defended the reopening steps by mentioning that the widespread omicron variant was “milder” than its predecessors.
Responding to criticism, the Health Ministry said that not only the new number of cases should be considered, but also the proportion of symptomatic patients and the burden on hospitals.
Neuinfektionen – new infections
Intensivstation – intensive care unit
All–Zeit–Rekord – all-time record
bestätigte Fälle – confirmed cases
Gratistestangebot – free tests offer