“Mutation pressure” and rising numbers dampen hopes for further easing

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On Monday, the government plans to decide on how to proceed with the Corona pandemic. While business, sports and culture had recently pushed for further openings, however, no major easing is likely in sight in light of rising numbers.

Corona infection numbers in Austria have risen significantly following recent relaxations, with the seven-day incidence already back up to 150. Thus, no major rollback of Corona protective measures is likely.

Infection numbers in recent weeks significantly increased
The fact that infection figures have risen significantly in the past three weeks was also acknowledged – albeit with reference to increased testing and lockdown fatigue – by industry representatives pushing for opening.

With the opening of all retail and body-related service providers and the resumption of school attendance on Feb. 8, about 1,000 new infections were reported daily and a seven-day incidence per 100,000 population of just over 100. Some three weeks later, Austria stands at more than 2,000 new infections daily and an incidence of nearly 150. And the more contagious British virus mutation is now widespread.

That’s why the traffic light commission also warned Thursday against further opening steps – and even recommended reversing relaxations if the trend continues. In the Corona traffic light meanwhile eight federal states are again on red, only Vorarlberg is orange. The east (Vienna, Burgenland, Lower Austria), which had temporarily good figures, is now considered a problem zone again with strong increases.

Government evaluates and decides on Monday
Against this background, major opening steps are not to be expected – after all, the government has repeatedly said that infection levels are the decisive factor. “We have the situation that we have increasing numbers,” Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said at a press conference Friday. There is a certain “mutation pressure,” he reported, that on average new, more infectious virus variants are already detected in about 50 percent of positive tests in Austria. But there are also rising test numbers, he said, and here one has to look at the weighting in new infections. “This will be tried at the weekend precisely also apart,” announced the minister.

“If it continues to go up drastically and becomes exponential, which we hope not, then one would also have to pull the emergency brake. But it was also said that starts at around 200 seven-day incidence,” Anschober referred to the statement of the traffic light commission. “If one would take something back, if, then one should deal in any case particularly carefully with the education sector, with the schools,” Anschober stressed. “But now it must be clarified once over the weekend, what is the main cause of these increases and from this will also very much depend on the course of the meeting and the decision on Monday.”

  • sources: APA and vienna.at/picture: pixabay.com
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