|COVID-19 pandemic in Austria|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Arrival date||8 February 2020|
(1 year, 9 months, 1 week and 5 days ago)
|Ministry of the Interior (in German)|
The COVID-19 pandemic in Austria is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In Austria, a pair of cases were confirmed on 25 February 2020. The cases involved a 24-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman who were travelling from Lombardy, Italy, and were treated at a hospital in Innsbruck. According to new figures released by Austrian authorities on 23 June, the first case in the country was recorded in Ischgl, Tyrol on 8 February.
On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan, Hubei, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.
The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003,but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll.
On 25 February, Austria confirmed the first two cases of COVID-19, a 24-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman from Lombardy, Italy tested positive and were treated at a hospital in Innsbruck, Tyrol.
On 27 February, a 72-year-old man in Vienna had been in the Krankenanstalt Rudolfstiftung hospital for 10 days with flu symptoms before he tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. He was then transferred to Kaiser-Franz-Josef Hospital.A couple who tested positive and their two children who were showing symptoms were admitted to Kaiser-Franz-Josef Hospital. The family had previously been on holiday in Lombardy, Italy. On 28 February, one of the children, a 15-year-old boy tested positive. Due to the illness, precautions were taken at his high school as 4 teachers and 23 students born between 2003 and 2005 were sent home for isolation.
Beginning from 1 March, authorities in Germany and the Nordic countries began identifying the Tyrolean ski resort town of Ischgl as a major coronavirus hotspot. Several hundred infections were eventually traced back to the town with transmissions having occurred from late February onwards. After initially playing down the risks, authorities in Tyrol placed the entire town in quarantine on 13 March.
On 10 March, the government announced that all universities would close their classes at the latest by 16 March. All outdoor events with more than 500 people and all indoor events with more than 100 people were cancelled. All children older than 14 years old were ordered to stay at home, starting 15 March, with the younger children starting 17 March. This applied until 4 April.Travel restrictions for people coming from Italy are established. The government asked the general public to avoid social contact and announced even further restrictions to be made soon.
On 12 March, Austria confirmed the first death of COVID-19, a 69-year-old man from Vienna died in Vienna's Kaiser-Franz-Josef Hospital.
By 13 March, there were 422 confirmed cases.
Potential COVID-19 infected persons should under no circumstances go to a doctor or to an outpatient clinic to reduce the risk of infection. They were asked to call the Healthcare number 1450 instead. On 15 March, there were about 70 times as many calls as on other Sundays before the pandemic.
On 15 March, a ban was also announced for public gatherings of more than five people, and restaurants were ordered to close beginning on 17 March.In addition, Günther Platter, the governor of Tyrol, announced a one-week lockdown for the whole province. Residents in Tyrol were required to remain in their homes except for necessary reasons such as purchasing food or medicine, visiting the doctor, withdrawing cash, or walking a dog.
From 16 March until 20 April, nationwide, homes may only be left for one of the following reasons:
On 27 March, Federal Minister of Health Rudolf Anschober announced that in Austria the pandemic was expected to peak between mid-April and mid-May 2020.
On 30 March, the Austrian government announced that everyone entering a store has to wear a face mask, effective 6 April.
On 30 March, the Austrian government announced that they would be conducting random tests.
From 1 April to 6 April, the random tests were conducted by the SORA Institute who contacted 2000 randomly selected candidates in regions affected by the virus; 1544 of the candidates were tested. Based on the study, the prevalence of the infection in the non-hospitalized population was recalculated, resulting in an estimate around 0.33%.The results were announced on 10 April.
On 14 April, wearing face masks became mandatory on public transportation as well. At the same time, stores such as retail shops and home improvement stores that are under 400 square metres may already reopen.
By the end of April, new cases had stabilized to around 20 - 50 per day on average. With this in mind, the government began to ease the lockdown on 20 April.
On 17 May, Austria reported no additional COVID-19 death in the past 24 hours for the first time since 20 March.
On 23 June, it was uncovered that the first case in the country was actually discovered to be active on 8 February, identified in Ischgl, Tyrol.
In mid-August, cases began to rise again, sparking fears of a second wave, which was then declared on 13 September by the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.
On 3 October, new daily infections surpassed 1,000 for the first time, with a total of 1,058 new cases.
On 13 October, results of an investigation into the Ischgl outbreak in March were announced, including conclusions that closing the resort's facilities had been later than desirable and the departure of tourists had not been managed to take place in an orderly manner. When a full lockdown had been announced, thousands of tourists had attempted to leave in a matter of hours. It was hoped that Austria and other countries might "learn from the mistakes of the past".
On 17 November, a second hard lockdown went into effect until (and including) 6 December. The goal is to significantly reduce the number of new cases and to relieve the pressure on hospitals.
In November 2020 the University of Innsbruck conducted a second antibody study in Ischgl. Seroprevalence was found to be still 45.4%. In the first study in April 2020 it was 51.4%. The second COVID wave in Austria end of 2020 could not spread in Ischgl.During the first wave out of the 1600 inhabitants of Ischgls two persons died. Nine were treated in hospital, one at an intensive care unit.
On 26 December, a third hard lockdown went into effect until (and including) 24 January 2021. In between 7-25 December, regulations were relaxed slightly to allow for limited Christmas shopping and limited family gatherings around the Christmas holidays. The goal of the third hard lockdown is to lower the new infection numbers even further.
The strict third lockdown was extended until 7 February, after mutations of the UK and South African variant were found in the country.
Starting on Monday, 8 February, the strict lockdown was lifted and retail shops, schools, services providers, museums, parks, zoos etc. are allowed to open again - with heavy protective measures such as mandatory FFP2-mask wearing. Hairdressers and massage therapists are only allowed to serve customers if they provide a negative COVID-test from a licensed medical testing site which is no longer than 48 hours old.
According to preliminary numbers released by Statistik Austria, 90.517 people died in Austria in 2020 - an increase of 8,6% from 2019. Excess mortality, which is defined by significantly higher mortality compared to the previous 5 years, happened during the first wave in March/April and more considerably after October during the second wave. During February 2021, there was no excess mortality in the country any longer with deaths below the 5-year average for the latest calendar weeks 6 and 7.
Until 5 March, 776.397 doses of vaccines have been distributed to Austria. 742.374 of these doses have been used for vaccination: 502.985 of which have been used to vaccinate people with a first dose and another 239.389 people with a second dose. 5,7% of all Austrians have received a first dose of vaccination, with 2,7% fully vaccinated with a second dose.
After four months of a complete shutdown, the gastronomic and cultural sector reopened in Vorarlberg on 15 March 2021 under strict conditions. Vorarlberg had shown low incident rates of Covid infections, so the state served as so-called 'model region' for the reopening of the gastronomic sector.
On November 15, a national lockdown for unvaccinated citizens aged 12 and over was imposed, authorizing them to leave their homes only for work, food shopping, or emergencies. The lockdown was described as temporary.
On November 19, due to the fourth wave in the country, Austria announced a full national lockdown for all citizens starting on November 22 and lasting for 20 days, including the introduction of a legal requirement for citizens to get vaccinated starting from 1 February 2022. Among the new measures, citizens were required to work from home, non-essential shops were closed, and schools only remained open for children who require face-to-face learning.
On 16 March 2020, a nationwide stay-at-home order went into force. Homes may only be left for a handful of specified reasons, see above. Non essential retail work that cannot be done from home was stopped.
On 17 March 2020, in addition to border checks, Austria banned all arrivals from Italy, China's Hubei Province, Iran, and South Korea, excepting those who had a medical certificate no more than four days old that confirmed they were not affected by coronavirus.
On 27 March 2020, it was announced that no further prevention measures are planned.
On 30 March 2020, the government laid out plans to introduce compulsory wearing of face masks covering mouth and nose. From 6 April onwards, this will only affect persons entering supermarkets, but will be extended to more public places in the near future.
On 21 May 2020, the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz stated that tourism is a driving force of the Austrian economy, accounting for about 8% of its GDP and involving hundreds of thousands of employees.He invited German tourists usually directed to Italy to vacation in safer Austria and contextually launched a 40 million Euro international campaign for tourism.
On 23 May 2020, tourists coming from Germany and Switzerland to Italy were allowed to cross Austrian borders, but with the prohibition of any kind of stop within their national area.
On 3 June 2020, the Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told Austria had agreed with Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic that their countries' borders will be reciprocally reopened from 4 June.The agreement doesn't yet affect the borders with Italy.
On 21 July 2020, Austria reintroduced face mask requirements inside supermarkets, banks and post offices. Sebastian Kurz also announced tighter testing requirements for arrivals from the Balkans
On 4 September 2020, the Corona traffic light (Corona-Ampel) officially started operation in Austria. Due to the rising numbers of new infections, Austria's three large cities—Vienna, Linz and Graz—as well as the Tyrolean district of Kufstein lighted up in yellow (medium risk), while in the rest of the country the green light (low risk) had been in effect.
On 28 September 2020, Vienna tightened its protective measures. People in Vienna are now required to leave their contact details when visiting restaurants, bars, and clubs in Vienna. Take-away restaurants are exempt from this new directive.
On 19 October, the government announced that starting on 23 October non-work related meetings are limited to 6 people indoors and 12 people outdoors, leaving an exception for funerals.
On 31 October 2020, the government announced "Lockdown light" starting on the 3 November 2020. This meant that between 20:00 (8 PM) and 6:00 (AM) leaving the house was only possible in special circumstances, such as protection of life and possessions, helping others, for work and education and for physical and psychological regenaration outdoors.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, several special deployments of various institutions and departments took place in Austria:
Tourism in Austria forms an important part of the country's economy, accounting for almost 9% of the Austrian gross domestic product. Austria has one guest bed for every six inhabitants, and boasts the highest per capita income from tourism in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. As of 2007, the total number of tourist overnight stays is roughly the same for summer and winter season, with peaks in February and July/August.
Vorarlberg is the westernmost state (Land) of Austria. It has the second-smallest geographical area after Vienna and, although it has the second-smallest population, it also has the second-highest population density. It borders on three countries: Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. The only Austrian state that shares a border with Vorarlberg is Tyrol, to the east.
Ischgl is a town in the Paznaun valley in the Austrian state of Tyrol. Its ski resort is connected with that of Samnaun across the border in Switzerland to form one of the largest in the Alps. Ischgl was a major hotspot of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe.
The ORF regional studios are branch offices from ORF in each state of Austria. Since 1975 there is also a regional office in and since 2021 a broadcasting TV studio in Bolzano for the German-speaking population of South Tyrol, Italy.
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