Austria’s former health minister becomes best-selling author

Rudolf Anschober’s book about the Covid crisis, “Pandemia”, has reached the number one spot on the bestseller list of non-fiction books in Austria.

Austria's Health Minister Rudolf Anschober addresses a press conference on April 13, 2021.
Austria's Health Minister Rudolf Anschober addresses a press conference on April 13, 2021. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Austria’s former health minister, Rudolf Anschober, from the Green party, has become a best-selling author, as his non-fiction book “Pandemia” climbed to the top spot on the Austrian non-fiction list in April.

The book contains an analysis of Covid policy, as well as fictional accounts of three characters’ pandemic experiences, based on interviews he conducted in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

Its success shows the immense interest in coming to terms with the first years of the Covid crisis, Anschober told the German press agency. “The pandemic changes everyone,” he said.

Anschober served as health minister in the Austrian coalition government from January 2020 to April 2021 and, at times, surpassed then-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in popularity. He stepped down after 15 months in the job, stating that he was “overworked and powered out”.

READ ALSO: ‘15 months has felt like 15 years’: Why Austria’s health minister called it quits

Speaking to the German Press Agency, Anschober said that one of the basic mistakes made by politicians in the course of the pandemic was to lump vaccination skeptics and vaccination opponents together. Among the 30 percent of non-vaccinated people in Austria, only one in three is completely against the jab, he said, while the rest are just in need of more persuasion.

The spreading carelessness in the face of declining infection numbers is another problematic issue, Anschober said.

“Shaking people out of this carefree mood is the hardest thing of all,” he said.

In his book, Anschober advocates for a pan-European pandemic plan, including no hasty openings following the end of an infection wave, continued intensive vaccination programmes and an improvement to the testing system. But the former minister leaves it up to the current politicians to devise the details.

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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.”