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The country needs someone who is fit, ‘that’s not me’: Austria’s health minister to step down, exhausted by Covid-19 pandemic

The country needs someone who is fit, ‘that’s not me’: Austria’s health minister to step down, exhausted by Covid-19 pandemic
Austria’s health minister has announced his plan to step down next week, saying his 15 months in the job felt like 15 years, as he led the country’s response the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccine rollout.

Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said the country needed someone who was totally up to the job of dealing with the pandemic. “In the worst health crisis in decades the republic needs a health minister who is 100% fit. That is not currently me,” he said. 

Anschober, a 60-year-old former journalist, schoolteacher and member of the Greens, the junior partner in the conservative-led coalition, cited blood-pressure problems and his exhaustion after 15 months of battling the Covid pandemic. “I... do not want to break myself… I took on a very nice and challenging job 15 months ago. It feels like it has not been 15 months but 15 years,” he stated.

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The minister took the role when the coalition was formed back in January 2020, but before the pandemic had arrived properly on European shores. He was often considered a lone voice calling for tougher restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, while Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives were keen to keep the economy open.

Kurz tweeted on Tuesday that he had been informed about Anschober’s resignation in the morning and respected this personal decision. “Rudi Anschober carried out this task with great responsibility right from the start. Over the past 16 months, he has sacrificed himself for our country and, as Minister of Health, has put all his energy into fighting the corona pandemic,” he added. 

Like much of Europe, Austria continues to battle against a third wave of Covid-19 as it rolls out vaccines.

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