Austria's leader: 2nd wave of virus has begun, use caution

Austria’s leader says his country is seeing the start of a “second wave” of coronavirus infections

Austria had a relatively successful first phase of the pandemic but has joined other European countries in seeing a rise in infections in recent weeks. It recorded 869 new infections on Friday, the highest daily figure since late March. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that day that the government would reimpose measures such as mandatory mask-wearing in shops.

Kurz stepped up his rhetoric on Sunday.

About half of the new infections are in Vienna, the capital, but infections are rising across the country, Kurz said. He noted most people are getting infected at family gatherings, birthday parties and other private events, but added “these infections are often taken to work.”

He said many companies have had “good experiences” with people working from home.

“It makes sense if, where companies want to, where it works well and where experiences are positive, this is continued and expanded,” he added.

Kurz urged companies to upgrade their anti-virus safety protections at work. He said things should be back to normal next summer “but until then, autumn and winter will be very challenging.”

Austria, which has about 8.9 million people, has recorded more than 33,000 infections and seen 750 virus-related deaths. Experts say all numbers in the pandemic are undercounts due to missed mild cases and limited testing.

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