Austria registers record Covid spike after lifting restrictions

Vienna, Mar 16 (EFE).- Austria on Wednesday registered a record 58,583 Covid infections within the last 24 hours, 11 days after authorities lifted nearly all restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

According to data released by the interior and health ministries, the seven-day average has surged to 3,465.6 fresh cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The number of hospitalizations have also been increasing, and although they continue to remain far below those registered during earlier waves of the pandemic, the pressure on the health system has intensified due to shortage of personnel who have been forced to go on medical leave.

Currently 3,033 Covid patients remain hospitalized, with 46 more admissions since Tuesday, out of which 221 are in intensive care units, a number that has increased by 39 within a week.

Australia tops European countries in terms of the largest proportion of hospitalized patients compared to its population, according to statistics portal Our World in Data, with 318 hospitalizations per million, ahead of France (310) and Denmark (252).

The Covid mortality curve has also started to climb up, with 28 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours and 176 over the last week.

The European country has registered 15,289 Covid deaths so far.

Austrian authorities had lifted nearly all measures and restrictions related to Covid on Mar. 5, allowing nightlife to resume and almost completely withdrawing the mandatory use of masks.

From Apr. 1, the number of PCR and antigen tests on offer are also set to be restricted, after being provided free of cost and without limits to the people so far.

On the other hand, the Conservative-Green coalition government had recently suspended a law imposing mandatory anti-Covid vaccination for those above the age of 18, for at least three months.

The government had argued that there was no reason to enforce the norm, thus suspending fines for unvaccinated people until further notice.

So far, around 70 percent of the Austrian population has been fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2.

The Austrian Health and Nursing Association on Wednesday warned that easing restrictions has directly affected the quality of medical care, as up to 25 percent of the workforce has had to go on leave due to being infected. EFE


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