Message from the main Vienna-based UN organizations

Message from the main Vienna-based UN organizations

VIENNA, 16 March 2020 - The UN Security and Safety Service in Vienna reports that 307 people out of 5,000 personnel came to work today to carry out critical tasks. That means more than 90 percent of colleagues are working remotely or otherwise at home. Thank you to those who are keeping all Vienna-based organizations running at the Vienna International Centre (VIC).

Thank you to all personnel for helping all the Vienna-based organizations (VBOs) to continue to carry out our important work and to dramatically reduce its footprint. This is contributing to Austria’s efforts to flatten the transmission curve of COVID-19.

Stay home unless you are approved to come to the VIC to carry out critical tasks. This instruction remains in place until 3 April. Look out for yourself, your families and each other.

Management of the four main VBOs is taking measures to reduce still further the presence of personnel in the VIC to the lowest achievable number possible and, in so doing, to reduce the risk of virus transmission.


Some updates and a reminder of the measures announced on Sunday, and some further details:

The Austrian Foreign Ministry said in a diplomatic note today: “Diplomatic missions, Permanent Missions, International Organizations and Consulates General are expressly requested to comply with these regulations.”

Everyone in Austria should stay at home and avoid contact with others beyond their immediate household. Only three reasons to leave home:

  • To go to work if it cannot be postponed or carried out remotely.
  • To shop for essential supplies such as food and medicine.
  • To tend to others who need support, such as the elderly.

It is admissible, if absolutely necessary, to go for a walk or run or to walk the dog. But public transport should not be used for these purposes. If you do go outside for these activities it should be alone or with others from your household. You must avoid interaction with others and keep a minimum one metre distance from others.

Sports grounds, gyms and playgrounds are closed.

Restaurants, bars and cafes will close completely from Tuesday.

These measures took effect today and last until midnight 22 March. We will seek Host Country guidance on whether the measures will be extended.

Civilian service reservists such those who worked as ambulance crew are being mobilized. Military reservists will be used for crisis response. Military already being used to help at supermarket warehouses to speed deliveries.

No entry to travellers from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Russia.

All Austrian Airlines flights are being grounded from 18 March until 28 March.

The Austrian authorities said today there are more than 1,000 people with COVID-19 in Austria. Three people have died. There have been some 8,500 tests.


 Advice from UNODC’s Chief of Cybercrime & Anti-Money Laundering, Neil Walsh.

 Cybercriminals are exploiting the COVID-19 virus pandemic by:

  • Sending emails with “virus updates” which then seek to gather your login and password details. Always verify the veracity of an email before you click on links or attachments.
  • Maps/Apps which display the spread of the virus are being compromised with malware – downloading these can compromise your computer and the whole organization.
  •  Cybercriminals are exploiting online marketplaces – selling, for example, non-existent hand sanitizer.




Advice from VIC Medical Service on practical procedures:

 What to do if you have respiratory symptoms and are concerned about having COVID-19

  •  If you have travelled during the last 14 days to one of the affected countries, then call the Austrian COVID-19 hotline: 1450.
  • If you have not travelled and are still worried call your GP or 1450.
  • If the symptoms are mild and you would be considered a suspected case, then 1450 will inform the Aerztefunkdienst, the mobile doctor service, and you will be tested at your home. Results are back normally within 24 hours, sometimes earlier.
  • You can also contact Medical Service on  +43-(1)-2600-22223 which is able to assist with the assessment for any suspected case and can facilitate the process with the Austrian health line 1450. Medical Service has established a 24/7 doctor hotline +43(0)69916522222 to answer staff’s queries remotely.

If you test positive for COVID-19

  •  If you are tested positive for COVID-19 you will be monitored and asked to stay in home quarantine by the Austrian authorities. Most of the time (more than 80 percent of cases) the illness will be a mild disease (flu-like, common cold-like illness).
  • Your family members have a potential chance to be infected during your 14-day home quarantine. The principles of avoiding close contact still apply at home. If possible, you should have your own room to separate you physically from the rest of the family. If that is not possible direct or close contact should be avoided, in line with the general respiratory illness prevention measures. This procedure would apply if a family member tests positive rather than you.
  • In case of any severe illness you call 144 and the emergency ambulance service will attend to you.

If your family members test positive for COVID-19

You must notify the VIC Medical Service about the positive test result. This will allow the Medical Service to monitor and assist with any questions regarding healthcare matters.

Please find update from 7 April 2020 here.

Please find update from 1 April 2020 here.

Please find update from 20 March 2020 here.

Please find update from 17 March 2020 here.

Please find update from 13 March 2020 here.

Please find update from 12 March 2020 here.

New global multilingual portal for information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing together information from the United Nations, the World Health Organization and other UN agencies, is accessible here.