Health Minister Rudolf Anschober warns of “pandemic within the pandemic”.

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) warns of a “pandemic within the pandemic” in view of rising infection figures and more and more cases of Corona mutations. Within a few weeks, he said, the British virus mutation had become established. The so-called wild type, the strain variant, has declined from 61.5 percent in calendar week 5 to 36.3 percent in calendar week 8. The British variant dominates with a share of 58.4 percent.

“For Austria, this dominance of the British variant is not good news. It is significantly more contagious than the parent virus, according to the current calculations in Austria by 23 percent,” Anschober said. “This is reflected in a very different spread pattern: while the parent virus has a reproduction factor of around 1, this is an alarmingly high value of 1.23 for the British variant. Therefore, the stronger the spread of the British variant, the higher the risk of infection in Austria.”

According to Anschober, 43,849 positive samples have now been tested for suspected mutations, out of a total of 90,289 confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases since the beginning of the year. “By now, this is realized in every positive sample.” Among the mutations, 11,576 cases of the British variant and 454 cases of the South African variant have been detected. The exception is the Tyrolean district of Schwaz, where the South African variant still dominates, but a decline has been seen there: In Tyrol, the B.1,351 proportion of all positive samples decreased from 18.65 percent in calendar week 5 to 4.25 percent this week. The number of active cases is also gradually decreasing from 193 to now 78.

Countermeasures are being taken with security measures in particularly hard-hit districts, such as exit tests, and with police focus checks on compliance with the measures throughout Austria in municipalities with high increases. The minister also referred to the introduction of prevention concepts in companies with more than 50 employees, an expansion of the FFP2 obligation and even more testing.

“Especially in times of a more contagious infection situation, it is necessary to adhere to protective measures, to consistently wear FFP2 masks, to keep the minimum distance of two meters and to reduce contacts to the necessary extent,” Anschober appealed. “We all decide with our actions whether we get through the crisis well until Easter, despite the dominance of the more contagious variant of the virus. After all, it should get easier after Easter: through higher temperatures, less time spent indoors and more rapid vaccination coverage of the population.”

Currently, the number of vaccinations is around 800,000. In the coming weeks, the pace will be stepped up with much higher volumes, he said. “In March, the delivery volumes will be tripled compared to January and February, and then doubled again from April,” the minister announced.

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