Health Minister Wolfgang Mckstein: Normal wards decisive for lockdown

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Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein wants to prevent another lockdown. However, the decisive “marker” will no longer be the occupancy of intensive care units, but rather that of normal wards, he said in an APA interview.

Mückstein pointed out that the probability of a hospital admission is up to 50 percent lower with Omicron than with the Delta variant: with Delta, one out of four admitted patients ends up in the intensive care unit; with Omicron, the ratio is only 1:10. And: with the Delta variant, about 20 percent of intensive care patients would have to be ventilated; with Omicron, only 2 percent. The intensive care unit marker is therefore no longer suitable. This is because there will already be a problem in normal wards and in the outpatient sector. At the same time, Mückstein emphasized that it is not yet clear how this marker is to be defined. It is not clear what level of utilization in the normal wards will lead to what measures.

In addition to maintaining critical infrastructure, the goal is to prevent a general lockdown, he said. The way out of the crisis, he said, is not contagion but vaccination. Austria’s top health official Katharina Reich said this would not be avoided unless people protected themselves with vaccination. The vaccination obligation will come into effect in February as planned, but the lockdown for the unvaccinated will not end automatically.

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