On Wednesday, April 1, the Austrian government introduced further measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), effective immediately. The measures include making it compulsory to wear a mask in supermarkets, which will be provided at store entrances. Further regulations will ensure that supermarkets comply with safe social distancing measures by introducing floor markings and capping capacities. In addition, all persons from high-risk groups must work from home or be placed on leave, and the use of hotels for tourism will be prohibited.
On Saturday, March 25, restrictions in place preventing people from leaving home except for food shopping, necessary work, or to assist vulnerable people were extended until Monday, April 13.
On Sunday, March 15, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that as of Monday, March 16, all travel to Switzerland, Spain, and France via air or train will be suspended, while flights from the UK and the Netherlands will no longer receive landing permits from Tuesday, March 17. Travel warnings remain in place for France, the UK, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea, and Iran. Individuals traveling from these countries are required to undergo 14-day home-quarantine upon entry into Austria unless they provide a certificate of health. Authorities have closed the border with Italy since Wednesday, March 11, while border checks are in place at the crossing points with Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
To date, the Austrian Health Ministry has confirmed 10,663 cases of COVID-19 in the country, including 146 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.