Today in Austria: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday

Find out what's going on in Austria today with The Local's short round-up of the news.

A healthcare worker receives an injection with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

Vaccination in Tyrol 

Vaccination will start today in the Schwaz district of Tyrol, which has received extra vaccines from the EU due to the spread of the South African virus variant, in the area. 

Around 48,500 people have registered for a vaccination from Biontech / Pfizer,  around 76 percent of those eligible for vaccination, according to the Wiener Zeitung newspaper. 

Hospital numbers expected to rise

The Ministry of Health in Austria is expecting hospital numbers to rise, and says infection rates will increase from 2,400 a day to around 2,900 in the coming week. By March 17th the daily number could be 3,200, the Wiener Zeitung newspaper reports.

In Vienna, a third of beds are expected to be occupied by Covid patients. This could also happen in Burgenland and Lower Austria, though intensive care beds are unlikely to be exceeded in any federal state by March 24th.

The experts say the vaccination progress within the age group of 65 to 79-year-olds is  too low. Only two to three percent in this age group are vaccinated.

Gurgle PCR test proposed for schools 

Experts say new gurgle PCR tests for schools could allow school children and parents to get back to normal.  The idea is supported by Vienna’s City Councilor for Education Christoph Wiederkehr and the simulation expert Niki Popper from the TU University in Vienna, according to broadcaster ORF.

Children are lonely in the pandemic

On the anniversary of the corona pandemic, a survey by  The Sora Institute has shown two out of three children feel lonely.

More than half of the parents surveyed say their child’s learning has suffered. Both children and parents feel more stressed since the pandemic began, according to Der Standard newspaper. 

‘Made in Austria’ masks come from China

According to Wiener Zeitung, Hygiene Austria, the mask manufacturer accused of selling masks from China as an Austrian company, is now threatened with several lawsuits over its “Made in Austria” claims.

The news comes as, according to Die Presse, the head of the supervisory board of the fiber manufacturer Lenzing, Peter Edelmann claims the company was co-founded not to earn money, but to make an important contribution to the protection of the population.

Latest corona statistics

The 7-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 187.9 (as of 2 p.m. yesterday) according to the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES). 

The number is highest in Salzburg (251.4), Vienna (228.3) and Burgenland (226.5). The value is still lowest in Vorarlberg (74.8) and Tyrol (104.3).

Around 608, 045 people in Austria have received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine (around 7 percent of the population). 252.097 people have received both doses.

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Tens of thousands of workers in Austria hit by Covid and flu as cases rise

Does it seem like everyone around you in Austria is sick? As it turns out, statistics support your suspicions.

Tens of thousands of workers in Austria hit by Covid and flu as cases rise

Last week, over 110,000 people in Austria were absent from work due to COVID-19, influenza, or flu-like diseases.

Statistics from ÖGK policyholders, Austria’s largest public health insurer, indicated that more than 400 individuals were specifically impacted by influenza (“real flu”), while over 84,000 stayed home due to flu-like symptoms. ÖGK’s chief physician, Andreas Krauter, highlighted a noticeable uptick in sick days via a statement on Monday.

The news comes Austria struggles with 10,000 more COVID-19 infections. than at the same time last year. Several variants of the Omicron strain of the virus are currently under observation by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and with temperatures plummeting, it is thought that a colder winter could further boost cases. 

Austria was a centre of several COVID-19 outbreaks in the early months of the pandemic, and stringent measures were introduced across the country in order to tackle its spread. 

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

In his statement, Krauter emphasised the efficacy of masks in offering reliable protection against infection and curtailing further transmission. He particularly stressed the importance of considering this protective measure for individuals with underlying health risks. “For them and everyone else, we recommend vaccination against Covid-19 and influenza. Washing your hands is also important”, he said in a press release.

In total, ÖGK recorded 297,000 individuals afflicted by various illnesses or injuries and registered for sick leave during the last week.