Austrian authorities have announced that a nationwide lockdown is to go into effect from Tuesday, November 17, following an increase in coronavirus virus disease (COVID-19) cases. The lockdown is to remain in effect until December 6 and will replace the current 20:00 to 06:00 (local time) curfew. All non-essential businesses, including bars, restaurants, and cafés, must close. Essential businesses, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, post offices, newsagents, gas stations, and car repair shops may open between 06:00 and 19:00. People may only leave their homes for essential purposes, such as grocery shopping, work, supporting relatives, or exercise. Primary schools will be required to move to distance learning, joining secondary schools and colleges which began distance learning at the start of November. Schools will remain open to provide daycare for parents who are unable to work from home. Face coverings remain mandatory in all public spaces.
As of Saturday, November 14, there have been 191,228 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 1161 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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.