Austrian coronavirus cases shatter record as Omicron spreads

Austria powers down public life as COVID-19 lockdown starts
·1 min read

VIENNA (Reuters) -Austria's new daily coronavirus infections on Wednesday shattered the previous record as the highly contagious Omicron variant continued to spread, government data showed.

Austria is bracing for a further surge in cases, in line with what has happened in other European countries. Austria emerged from its fourth full coronavirus lockdown last month, when only a small number of Omicron cases were recorded, and the government wants to avoid imposing another one during this wave.

"We have close to 30,000 infections. That is a frighteningly high figure," Chancellor Karl Nehammer told a news conference.

The previous record for new daily cases published by the interior and health ministries was 17,006, set a week ago.

Hours after Nehammer spoke, the interior and health ministries said in a statement that 27,677 new cases were recorded in the past day, exceeding the previous record by more than 10,000.

While infections are roughly in line with what had been forecast, Nehammer said, the occupancy rate of intensive-care beds is also broadly what had been forecast or slightly less, highlighting that a smaller proportion of Omicron cases require hospitalisation than previous variants of COVID-19.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy;Editing by Alison Williams and Gareth Jones)

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