EXPLAINED: Why are so many people falling ill in Austria right now?

The Local Austria
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EXPLAINED: Why are so many people falling ill in Austria right now?
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Six out of every 100 people are currently ill in Austria, be it with influenza, a flu-like infection or Covid. So why is this happening and how can you prevent infection?


Data from the Agency for Health and Food Safety (Ages) shows an increasing number of people sick with viruses such as the flu or Covid. Extrapolated, six out of every 100 people are currently ill, be it with influenza, a flu-like infection or even Covid, as can be seen from the data - such high numbers of illnesses are indeed unusual.

The number is so high because several waves of infection are running in parallel. Influenza, and Sars-Cov-2, but also rhino and adenoviruses, as well as RSV and seasonal coronaviruses, are circulating, Christoph Steininger, a virologist at Med-Uni Vienna, told the daily newspaper Der Standard.

One factor commonly mentioned is the usage of masks that supposedly made people's immune systems "weaker", but the expert says that doesn't happen. Instead, the number of viruses circulating - some with many different strains -  is the main reason for the high number of infections.

Even if a person is immune to one strain of the virus, they could still get infected with another. 

READ ALSO: Colds and flu: What to do and say if you get sick in Austria

Additionally, Steininger said: "The pandemic has also changed awareness; people are more aware of infections."

How can I protect myself?

The measures established during the pandemic, such as keeping your distance, avoiding crowds, washing your hands and wearing a mask, are still effective against these infections, Steininger told Der Standard. 


He also recommended the flu vaccination ahead of the peak of the flu season in January and February. In Vienna, those are free for everyone, but other states have different criteria.

You can check out how to get the flu vaccination in Austria HERE.

What if I get sick?

If you do feel ill, doctors ask that you stay in bed (or at least don't strain yourself), drink plenty of liquids and try to rest.

Home remedies and over-the-counter medications may help but call your doctor to check (don't go to a doctor's office or hospital unless your symptoms are concerning or worsening, as health services are already strained at the moment in Austria).

READ NEXT: Six things to know about visiting a doctor in Austria

In some countries, it’s possible to call in sick for a few days without having a doctor’s note and still get paid.


Unfortunately, Austria is not one of those countries, and employees need to present a written letter from a doctor to take time off sick or receive sick pay (Krankenstand) unless their boss waives it.

READ ALSO: How Austrian employers use private detectives to check if workers are sick 



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