Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
Austria has reported its first coronavirus death today, a 69-year-old man who had returned to Vienna from Italy.
The medical crisis team of the Kaiser Franz-Josef-Spital hospital informed the city of Vienna today that the OAP, who has not been named due to local privacy laws but who reportedly had a pre-existing condition, passed away in the night of Wednesday to Thursday.
Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober was quoted in the Wiener Zeitung as saying that the current figures from Thursday morning show a strong increase in the number of positive coronavirus cases in Austria.
He added: “There is currently a rapid increase. Yesterday morning there were 202 cases of the illness, now there are 302. If this curve continues like this, we will have very, very high numbers in a week.”
In order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, restrictions are being applied in the municipal hospitals in Vienna.
Visits to the sick have been prohibited until further notice, with controls being carried out at the entrances to the buildings, according to Vienna’s Health Councillor, Peter Hacker.
All non-urgent surgeries in Vienna have been postponed until further notice.
Hacker was quoted as saying: “We ask the people of Vienna for understanding, but we have to protect and conserve our resources and our personnel in the central area of health care – the hospitals.”
In an interview with Newsflash, Dr Richard Greil, the head doctor managing the quarantine of three British citizens hospitalised in Salzburg upon returning from Italy, said that all new cases seemed to be coming in from the country, which borders Austria.
As the epidemic worsens there, people fleeing Italy resulted in massive queues at the border into Austria, of up to 50 miles for example, on the main motorway, the Brenner Autobahn, where queues stretched back 80 kilometres, as far as Bozen.
In the Austrian capital Vienna, there have been so many phone calls to the emergency services number that it is overloaded, with people waiting up to 3 hours and still not getting an answer. An Irish visitor to the city who called the hotline complained he was even told that they were only dealing with German-speaking patients before the call was ended.
Another call placed by a Romanian woman was not answered for 1h and 15 minutes, before it was suggested, against government guidelines, that she go to her local GP.
In ski regions, some areas have stopped all apres skiing activities, and in the massive VIP resort of Ischgl, all skiing activities were stopped after the lifts also closed and the number of infected increased.
Tourists in the Austrian capital Vienna also fared the same, with all museums closed. This also applies to local operas and theatres, and on Thursday it was also announced that the country’s biggest tourism attraction, the Schoenbrunn Palace and the nearby zoo, will be closed with immediate effect, with no visitors allowed inside.
Numerous locals however have voiced their surprise that the underground train network was still running.
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