Current Status of Developments in Austria: Strategy to Separate from the Virus

Lifestyle & TravelHealth ♦ Published: February 27, 2020; 18:07 ♦ (Vindobona)

The coronavirus was a topic of discussion in the National Council today. The aim of all measures is to contain the virus and prevent its spread. Health and Interior Ministers strongly opposed scare-mongering and called for joint efforts to meet the challenge.

The coronavirus status of developments in Austria was a topic of discussion in the National Council. / Picture: © Parlamentsdirektion / Matthias Weinlich

Minister of Health Anschober and Minister of the Interior Nehammer informed about the latest developments, emphasizing national coordination, international cooperation and the information and personal responsibility of the population.

The ministers also provided information on the latest developments in a press briefing.

"Our common goal is to prevent the further spread of the virus and diseases."

According to Franz Lang, Deputy Director-General for Public Security, the situation in Europe has not changed dramatically in the last 24 hours.

The centre is still in Italy, where there have been 12 deaths so far and two other cases that are still being investigated.

The strong upward trend in coronavirus infections that Italy has experienced has flattened out somewhat in other European countries.

Minister of Health Anschober first gave an update on the situation and reported that there are currently 82,168 cases worldwide, approximately 79,000 of them in China.

More than 2,800 people had died of the disease, but 32,000 patients had been cured.

In 81% of the infected persons, only a mild course of the disease was present.

Corona is therefore "not a death sentence".

After the outbreak in Italy, one must expect that the number of corona cases will increase in the coming weeks in Europe and also in Austria, Anschober said. In Austria, in addition to the two cases in Innsbruck, there were now two confirmed cases in Vienna.

The aim was to contain the virus. In this context, the Minister emphasized the importance of informing the population about precautionary measures and stressed that washing hands was the best answer.

He said that although people are self-determined when travelling, they should consider whether it is sensible to go to the areas that are directly threatened.

This does not mean, however, that one should generally avoid Italy.

It is also important to inform people about symptoms such as dry coughs, whereby Anschober advised to call the doctor if there is any suspicion and not to go to the surgery himself.

The authorities, for their part, pursue a strategy of distinguishing themselves from the virus in cases of illness in order to prevent it from spreading.

In addition, they also rely on the excellent cooperation in Europe.

Domestically, a task force in the Ministry of the Interior has involved and coordinated all affected authorities. Overall, Anschober called for common ground and emphasized that the current situation was not a time for political disputes.

Nehammer defends measures taken by security authorities in the wake of the suspicious cases

Prudence and trust in the security authorities were appropriate in this situation, Karl Nehammer also confirmed.

The Minister of the Interior defended the measures taken by his department and emphasized that it was important to do everything possible to prevent the spread of the virus.

With this in mind, the police would conduct interviews in cases of illness in order to clarify the environment of the infected persons.

In Tyrol and Carinthia, comprehensive security measures had been necessary, and cross-border warnings had been implemented for the train at the Brenner Pass.

Nehammer responded to criticism of the closure of the Vienna School by asking what would have happened if the authorities had not acted, if the teacher had tested positive. In any case, the aim was to quickly clarify whether an infection with the corona virus was present in every suspected case.

Nehammer referred to the permanent task force in the Ministry of the Interior, headed by the Director General for Public Safety, and emphasised that the cooperation between the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Health and all other affected departments as well as the federal states was working excellently.

This means that in the event of illness, all measures can be taken immediately to contain the virus.

A decree will also regulate the uniform procedure of all authorities involved.

In addition, a round-the-clock call centre has been set up to which the population can turn with their questions.

In this context, the Minister of the Interior advised to call 1450 in case of concrete symptoms.