Health Minister Johannes Rauch is convinced that the Austrian population should prepare for more Corona waves.
“We will have waves, not only this year but also further down the line,” Rauch told reporters Thursday: “But we can dampen them down to relieve the hospitals.” The tool of choice for that, he said, is vaccination.
“We have to be prepared to live with covid. The virus has come to stay.” But after two years of the pandemic, he said, people have learned “a bit” to deal with it, but that doesn’t mean eliminating the measures or not vaccinating.
Vaccination is an essential tool
Rauch said that vaccination is an essential momentum in combating the pandemic. That’s because it prevents severe illness and hospitalizations, which can dampen the spikes of any waves. Vaccination has fallen into disrepute because it does not protect against infection – as expected – the health minister acknowledged: “But that’s not the message.” Of course, he said, you can get infected, but vaccination protects you from getting seriously ill and ending up in the hospital or intensive care unit.
As the Director-General of Public Health, Katharina Reich, pointed out, the recommendation is for those over 65, vulnerable, and chronically ill to vaccinate before the summer. In this regard, there will also be appropriate actions in nursing homes, she announced. Everyone else should brush up when the seasonal bonus is over, i.e., in the fall. Reich expects a corresponding recommendation from the National Vaccination Panel before the summer: “So that everyone can plan.”
Simulation researcher Niki Popper, who calculated various scenarios with differently pronounced peaks depending on the vaccination situation and the degree of contagion of new variants, also took up a lance for vaccination. The models show that vaccination helps. For example, with appropriate immunization, the peak in hospitalizations can be reduced by 25 percent.
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Rauch also announced that the current testing regime would be extended through the end of the year with only five free PCR tests and five free antigen tests. When it comes to quarantine rules, he said, consideration must be given to how they will be designed in the future. Because during the peaks in the spring, contact tracing was not always possible, “you have to be that honest.”
Rauch expects the numbers to rise in the summer, which is “no surprise. Still, a lockdown is not “in sight,” he said. Avoiding school closures – “as long as possible” – is also part of the objective. After all, this generates educational losses that can no longer be made up.
However, the masking requirement could make a comeback in the fall, according to Rauch: “We’ll be wearing masks again in the fall because it’s the mildest means.” That, too, will have to be lived with, he said.
- source: k.at/picture: pixabay.com
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