Austria hits new virus high as tourism concerns mount

By: AFP      Published: 09:24 PM, 8 Oct, 2020
Austria hits new virus high as tourism concerns mount

Austria on Thursday recorded its highest ever one-day total of coronavirus infections, putting the tourism industry under pressure as the ski season approaches.

The Alpine nation of nearly nine million showed 1,209 new infections in 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

Austria escaped the worst of the pandemic earlier in the year, helped by a nationwide lockdown in March and April, but numbers have risen steadily recently and Thursday was the third time in October that more than 1,000 infections were reported.

Measures such as mandatory mask wearing and restrictions on public events were relaxed over the summer, but have now been toughened again. 

The government has not ruled out a second lockdown, but Health Minister Rudolf Anschober has rebuffed rumours that it might be imminent, noting that only about five percent of intensive care beds were currently occupied.

Austria's ski resorts came under scrutiny at the beginning of the pandemic when thousands of tourists contracted the virus there.

For the upcoming ski season, apres-ski dance parties are banned masks mandatory on lifts, but Austria remains on several countries' lists of high-risk destinations.

Elsewhere in the region, Romania hit a record high of 3,130 new infections on Thursday, while Slovenia, a country of some two million, also saw a record of 387 new cases.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia declared a state of emergency over their own spikes last week, while Hungary registered a record of 24 deaths on Wednesday.