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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
Commuters wear FFP2 protective face masks while leaving a train at the Westbahnhof underground station in Vienna on January 25, 2021, during the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Austrian biologist warns of 'high' Covid wave in winter, centre-left leader defends 'full integration opportunities' for immigrants and more news from Austria on Monday.


Austrian biologist warns of 'high' Covid wave in winter

Austrian molecular biologist Ulrich Elling, one of the experts to speak about the coronavirus pandemic in local media, has become vocal again on the pandemic. This time, he warned the country was heading for "one of the highest Covid waves ever".

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, he said that overcrowded intensive care units are not expected but "otherwise the usual", he wrote without giving further details. 

Elling also recommended people take booster vaccinations, wear masks and "be considerate". 


As per Austria's Health Agency AGES, the variants currently identified in the country encompass XBB.1.5 or BA.2.86. The duration from infection to the onset of symptoms varies depending on the variant, typically ranging from about five to six days, but in some instances, it can extend up to two weeks.

Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, breathing difficulties, loss of smell and taste, and body aches. However, some cases might also be asymptomatic. Since July 1st, COVID-19 has no longer been a notifiable disease in Austria. Until this date, the country had reported over six million cases, with the peak occurring in March 2022.

As of June 30, 2023, approximately 77.2 percent of the Austrian population had received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while 74.8 percent were fully vaccinated. The rate of booster vaccinations (the third dose) stood at 60.5 percent.

The current recommendation from the National Vaccination Committee advises healthy individuals to wait at least six months after their last coronavirus vaccination or infection before getting vaccinated, with one year being the ideal interval. Vaccines are available at various doctors' offices and health centres within the Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK).

READ ALSO: How can I get a Covid or flu vaccine in Austria this autumn?

REVEALED: How many foreigners have become Austrian so far in 2023

The first three quarters of 2023 saw a slight decline in the number of people taking Austrian citizenship.


Centre-left leader defends 'full integration opportunities' for immigrants

The head of the centre-left SPÖ party, Andreas Babler, was interviewed by the daily newspaper Der Standard and spoke widely on the issues of migration, refugees and terrorism.

When asked about his statement that "we don't want people who shout for Sharia law and a caliphate", he elaborated that social democracy is the force that "always stood on the side of democracy" in Austria. "We are the counter-model to those who want to curtail women's rights and attack basic democratic structure".

Babler, who will head the SPÖ run for the chancellery in the election next year, pointed at "two decades of (centre-right) ÖVP responsibility for the Ministry of the Interior", saying the administration "starved" the police force, leading to the terrorist attack in Vienna in 2020.

When pressed on the issue of Islamic radicalisation, he said: "full force against those who oppose democracy, but full integration opportunities for everyone else." He accused the government of former ÖVP chancellor Sebastian Kurz of "cutting back all aid and then scandalise the consequences."

He said: "The Ministry of the Interior is going to great lengths to deport well-integrated families, even though workers are urgently needed. But there is no one to protect the kids from the influence of radical Islamists."

READ ALSO: Austria’s SPÖ struggles to move on beyond chaotic leadership vote


Football fans get into a violent brawl in Vienna

Late Saturday evening, a fight erupted involving approximately 40 individuals outside a pub on the Lerchenfelder Gürtel in Vienna's Ottakring district. According to police reports, rival Rapid Vienna and Austria Vienna supporters were involved in the altercation. The conflict was brought to a halt by the police using two blank shots.

Upon the arrival of additional police forces, those involved attempted to flee, resulting in a 17-year-old colliding with an unrelated vehicle. Sustaining injuries, the teenager required hospitalisation. Law enforcement managed to detain a total of nine individuals. 

During the process, one officer sustained injuries, the authorities said. Investigators are examining whether the clash between the fans occurred coincidentally or had been prearranged. 

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