Austria’s coronavirus infection growth slows significantly, mirroring Spain and Italy

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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 health ministry said.

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

“We have to considerably strengthen and then stabilize the current trend, then we have a real chance,” Health Minister Rudolf Anschober 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.

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With a view to 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 the production of face masks for use in hospitals, Economy Minister Margarete Schramboeck said on Saturday. The aim was to produce half a million masks per day to reduce the reliance on imports.

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