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HEALTH

Vienna ambulance service warns fuel prices are putting patients at risk

Emergency services in Vienna say they will soon not be able to carry out their daily appointments and are struggling to transport patients due to cost of filling up on fuel.

austria Vienna ambulance
Emergency services alert of possible service issues as fuel prices continue rising. (Photo by GEORG HOCHMUTH / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT

Ambulances are struggling to transport patients to hospitals in Vienna due to rising fuel prices in Austria and emergency services now warn of possible service bottlenecks and supply shortages.

The paramedics from the Arbeiter-Samariterbund (Samaritan Association) charity will soon no longer be able to carry out its six hundred appointments a day, according to managing director Reinhard Hundsmüller, speaking to the Wien Heute TV programme.

Most ambulance rides consist of trips to the hospital for people who regularly receive chemotherapy or dialysis, but rising prices for gasoline, electricity and even medical products are worrying sector representatives.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Am I liable for ambulance costs in Austria?

Other rescue services in Vienna, such as the Red Cross, the Green Cross or the Johanniter, are in the same situation.

“We now have additional costs of €200,000 per month – for all rescue organisations in total. That is why we are also demanding a mineral oil tax exemption, just as it is already possible for other companies such as agricultural businesses and the fire brigade,” said Robert Lorenz, head of operations at the Johanniter charity.

If no tax exemption is possible, the organisations then ask for special funding similar to the €120 million package the government earmarked to assist the agriculture sector.

“This is about sick people, not products. We have to understand that sick people are also important,” Hundsmüller said.

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

At the same time, the health associations alert that donations are declining. These organisations are financed by the Austrian Health Insurance fund and private donations.

“Of course, we notice that with the inflation rising, donations are also declining”, Lorenz said. He added that the emergency services don’t want to unsettle people but there is a need to warn of a possible supply shortage.

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HEALTH

WHO expects more monkeypox-related deaths in Europe

The World Health Organization's European office said Saturday that more monkeypox-related deaths can be expected, following reports of the first fatalities outside Africa, while stressing that severe complications were still be rare.

WHO expects more monkeypox-related deaths in Europe

“With the continued spread of monkeypox in Europe, we will expect to see more deaths,” Catherine Smallwood, Senior Emergency Officer at WHO Europe, said in a statement.

Smallwood emphasised that the goal needs to be “interrupting transmission quickly in Europe and stopping this outbreak”.

However, Smallwood stressed that in most cases the disease heals itself without the need for treatment.

“The notification of deaths due to monkeypox does not change our assessment of the outbreak in Europe. We know that although self-limiting in most cases, monkeypox can cause severe complications,” Smallwood noted.

The Spanish health ministry recorded a second monkeypox-related death on Saturday, a day after Spain and Brazil reported their first fatalities.

The announcements marked what are thought to be the first deaths linked to the current outbreak outside Africa.

Spanish authorities would not give the specific cause of death for the fatalities pending the outcome of an autopsy, while Brazilian authorities underlined that the man who died had “other serious conditions”.

“The usual reasons patients might require hospital care include help in managing pain, secondary infections, and in a small number of cases the need to manage life-threatening complications such as encephalitis,” Smallwood explained.

According to the WHO, more than 18,000 cases have been detected throughout the world outside of Africa since the beginning of May, with the majority of them in Europe.

The WHO last week declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency.

As cases surge globally, the WHO on Wednesday called on the group currently most affected by the virus — men who have sex with men — to limit their sexual partners.

Early signs of the disease include a high fever, swollen lymph glands and a chickenpox-like rash.

The disease usually heals by itself after two to three weeks, sometimes taking a month.

A smallpox vaccine from Danish drug maker Bavarian Nordic, marketed under the name Jynneos in the United States and Imvanex in Europe, has also been found to protect against monkeypox.

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