Coronavirus: Austria's "Containment Strategy"

Lifestyle & TravelHealth ♦ Published: March 3, 2020; 16:34 ♦ (Vindobona)

The latest developments concerning the coronavirus were the dominant topic of today's debate in the Health Committee of the Austrian Parliament.

Anschober: "At European level, a "containment strategy" continues to be consistently pursued, and the next conference of health ministers will discuss tightening the measures." / Picture: © Parlamentsdirektion / Matthias Weinlich

Federal Health Minister Rudolf Anschober informed MEPs that there are now 21 cases of coronavirus in Austria and that around 350 people are in quarantine.

A total of 2,683 people were tested.

At European level, a "containment strategy" continues to be consistently pursued, and the next conference of health ministers will discuss tightening the measures.

Anschober focuses on absolutely transparent and offensive information of the population

The spread of the coronavirus is developing very dynamically, with some positive and some negative aspects, explained the Health Minister.

Less positive was the fact that 91,269 confirmed cases of the disease and 3,116 deaths have been recorded worldwide so far.

An extremely strong increase was noted in South Korea, and Iran was also a "problem child".

In Europe, Italy is the epicentre with 54 deaths.

On the positive side, however, it should be noted that in China, which is the most severely affected country in the world, growth rates are falling drastically. In the last 24 hours, for example, only 125 new cases, primarily in a single region, have been reported.

The participants of a WHO delegation were also impressed by the effectiveness of the measures taken.

As far as the WHO's general risk assessment is concerned, three scenarios are considered possible.

1) Apart from the spread of a global pandemic, it is conceivable that

2) the virus is "starved out" similar to SARS.

3) It is also possible that the coronavirus, like influenza, occurs in seasonal waves. In this case one hopes of course that a vaccination will be available at the next occurrence.

With 21 cases of the disease - three persons have been added since yesterday - Austria still has a very low rate, but further infections are to be expected.

Anschober was convinced that the possibility to get information by calling the health number 1450 or the hotline 0800 555 621 has developed into a well-rehearsed system.

He hopes that rapid tests will be available in about two weeks' time so that it will be possible to react even more quickly.

This is particularly important in view of the fact that there is currently a strong wave of influenza (approx. 100,000 people are ill), he concluded.

Another important step forward was the agreement between the Austrian provinces on a uniform procedure for the coronavirus. In a corresponding decree, the procedures to be followed in suspicious cases were laid down.