Austrian health ministry says coronavirus infection growth slows significantly


Austria’s daily growth of COVID-19 infections has decreased to a single digit percentage range from 40 percent three weeks ago as restrictions on people’s movement and the closure of schools and shops took effect.

The number of confirmed cases increased to 11,781 with 186 deaths on Saturday, report says.

“We have to considerably strengthen and then stabilize the current trend, then we have a real chance,” Rudolf Anschober, Health Minister said, urging people to stay at home despite sunny and warm spring weather.

“We must not take any risks, but rather, encouraged by initial successes, must consistently continue the marathon.”

Austria was one of the first European countries to put severe restrictions on movement and close shops and schools in response to the developments in neighboring Italy and a strong increase in coronavirus infections in its ski resorts.

People have been urged to work from home since March 16, and only grocery stores, pharmacies and some other shops selling daily essentials are still open.

In view of the Easter holidays, the health ministry on Saturday issued a decree stipulating that not more than five people are allowed to meet in one room, even at people’s homes, unless they live together.

’’In its efforts to fight the spread of the new virus, Austria has also started to increase production of face masks for use in hospitals,’’ Margarete Schramboeck, Economy Minister said on Saturday. The aim was to produce half a million masks per day to reduce the reliance on imports.

Olusola Akintonde