COVID-19: Risk Assessment on Travel and Visits to Austria

More+More+ ♦ Published: February 28, 2020; 13:25 ♦ (Vindobona)

The coronavirus outbreak has now reached Austria and the disease is spreading further. What is the risk of infection when travelling in and to Austria?

COVID-19: The world could be facing a pandemic. / Picture: ©


In Austria, only a few confirmed cases of infection with the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) have occurred to date. (For daily updated case numbers see here.).

Risk Assessment continuously records the current situation, evaluates all information and tries to assess the risk.

On a global level, this is a very dynamically developing and serious situation.

Even the renowned "Economist" Magazin has stated in its current issue that the world could be facing a pandemic.

"The outbreaks in Italy and Iran, along with a large one in South Korea, have convinced many epidemiologists that attempts to keep the virus contained within China have run their course. It will now spread from second countries to third countries and on around the world."

Depending on a basic reproductive rate, which is difficult to determine, according to the Economist, between 25% and 70% of the world population could be infected.

"Better health care reduces the fatality rate. Better public-health interventions reduce the total rate of infections. Epidemiologists start their curve-producing models off with a "basic reproductive rate", Ro. This is the rate at which cases lead to new cases in a population that has never seen the disease before (and thus has no immunity) and is doing nothing to stop its spread. Estimates of Ro for covid-19 based on data for Wuhan put it at between 2 and 2.5, according to the who. Academics reckon that an Ro around this range could see between 25% and 70% of the world becoming infected."

However, there is currently not enough data to make a final assessment of the severity of the new respiratory disease.

In some cases the disease is severe, with fatal outcomes estimated to occur in 0.5-5% of cases.

An import of further cases to Austria and an expansion of the disease within Austria must be expected.

Further transmissions, infection chains, local infections and outbreaks are also possible in Austria.

The risk to the health of the population in Austria is currently estimated to be low to moderate.

A worldwide spread of the pathogen is likely. This assessment may change in the short term due to new findings.

Infection control measures and strategy has already pointed out that global developments suggest that the virus may spread worldwide in the sense of a pandemic.

The massive efforts at all levels of the public health service have so far pursued the goal of detecting individual infections in Austria as early as possible and thereby delaying the further spread of the virus as much as possible.

The aim of this strategy is to gain time in Austria to prepare in the best possible way and to learn more about the characteristics of the virus, to identify risk groups, to prepare protective measures for particularly vulnerable groups, to increase treatment capacities in hospitals, to sound out antiviral drugs and vaccine development.

Furthermore, a coincidence with the current wave of influenza in Austria should be avoided as far as possible, as this could lead to a maximum burden on medical care structures.

As soon as more cases occur in Austria that can no longer be attributed to already known cases and it becomes clear that the spread of the disease in Austria cannot be avoided in the medium to long term, the country's control strategy will probably be adapted step by step.

Then protection would have to focus more on persons and groups at increased risk of serious disease progression.

For tourists, expats and returnees from risk areas or from areas with COVID-19 diseases or outbreaks, Vindobona has been publishing regularly updated recommendations for some time.

In the following Vindobona articles, recommended infection prevention measures are explained and the respective situation is updated daily:

Coronavirus in Austria: Live Ticker:

Coronavirus in Austria: Update:

COVID-19 in Vienna: What to do in Case of Suspected Infection:

Coronavirus in Vienna: Update: