Against the backdrop of increasing Corona infection dynamics (rising infection figures and higher hospitalization rates) in Austria, the All-State Covid Crisis Coordination (Gecko) recommends wearing FFP2 masks more often, especially in public transport and indoors, as announced on Friday. Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) plans to decide on a return of mandatory FFP2 masks in the next few days, according to “Presse.”
“The Gecko recommendation at the moment is to consider introducing mandatory FFP2 masks in certain areas,” Rauch said. “We will continue monitoring the situation for a few more days.” If current developments continue, “we will get to the point where we have to act,” the minister opined. “The direction will certainly become clear in the next few days,” Rauch explained that mandatory masks would be implemented on public transportation and in retail grocery stores, then possibly in indoor public spaces.
Meanwhile, the Gecko task force advises people to take advantage of the Corona testing offer. In addition, the Gecko Commission, which met earlier this week, reiterates the importance of Corona vaccination and Covid-19 medications: “Both make a significant contribution to protecting against severe disease progression.”
The incidence of infection in Austria remains at 93 percent, dominated by the omicron subvariant BA.5 (according to AGES/IMBA surveillance and wastewater sequencing). The virus variants BA.4 and BA.2 are also found in wastewater, and the BA.2.75 subvariant can also be detected in several wastewater treatment plants in Austria, the task force informed. In the individual case analyses by AGES/IMBA, the proportion of BA.2.75 was most recently 1.16 percent of the individual cases evaluated. Other omicron subvariants occur sporadically.
“In recent weeks, the development and description of new coronavirus variants have been very dynamic,” said virologist and Gecko member Andreas Bergthaler. He noted that several subvariants have evolved from the globally spread omicron variants – especially BA.2 and BA.5 – some of which show considerable regional growth advantages. “What is particularly striking here is that the same mutations have repeatedly arisen independently in different genetic backgrounds. This suggests strong selection pressure and significantly increased fitness of these mutations.”
A new covid-19 vaccine adapted to the omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 is available in Austria. This is rated as particularly influential.
– source: APA/picture: pixabay.com
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