Austria said it is suspending mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for all adults saying the pandemic no longer poses the same danger, just weeks after the law took effect in an EU first.

The Alpine nation of nine million people was among few countries in the world to make jabs against the coronavirus compulsory for all adults.

The law took effect in February and called for fines up to €3,600 from mid-March for those who do not comply.

But minister Karoline Edtstadler said the law's "encroachment of fundamental rights" could no longer be justified by the danger posed by the pandemic.

"After consultations with the health minister, we have decided that we will of course follow what the (expert) commission has said," Ms Edtstadler told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.

"We see no need to actually implement this compulsory vaccination due to the (Omicron) variant that we are predominantly experiencing here."

The highly-contagious variant is widely believed to be less severe than previous strains of the virus, and so far Austrian hospitals have been able to cope with a surge in cases.

This has led to the government to drop most coronavirus restrictions in recent weeks.

The government has stressed it needs to act flexibly in line with the epidemiological situation.

"Just like the virus keeps on changing, we need to be flexible and adaptable," Ms Edtstadler said.

The decision to suspend the law will be reviewed in three months, said Johannes Rauch, who took over as health minister this week as the third since the start of the pandemic.

Tens of thousands have demonstrated in regular weekend rallies across the country since the government said last November that it would seek to force people to get jabbed in an effort to boost the staggering vaccination rate.

But the rate of those considered fully protected against the virus has hardly changed in recent week, hovering around 70% of the population.

That group includes people who are vaccinated, those who have recovered, or a combination of both.

Calls to review the law - including from within the ruling conservative People's Party - have also become increasingly loud as Austria has dropped many restrictions.

As of yesterday, Austria has recorded almost three million coronavirus cases and more than 15,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

The law was adopted by parliament on January 20 with all but the far-right party supporting it and came into effect on 5 February.

It applied to all residents above 18 years old with the exception of pregnant women, those who have contracted the virus within the past 180 days and those with medical exemptions.

Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Indonesia are among the few other countries in the world that also have a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination law for all.

Mandatory Hong Kong Covid testing 'not a priority'

Hong Kong's leader said mandatory coronavirus testing was no longer a priority after plans for mass screening of all 7.4 million residents and an accompanying citywide lockdown triggered panic.

The announcement by Carrie Lam comes after weeks of uncertainty and mixed messages from the government, fuelling panic-buying sprees by residents snapping up vegetables, canned goods, frozen foods, and even over-the-counter medicine such as paracetamol, and testing kits.

Thousands of foreign and Hong Kong residents have also fled the city, as the United States issued a travel advisory warning against visiting and cited the risk of children being separated from parents in Covid isolation units.

But today's announcement rolls back a late February proposal by Ms Lam that three rounds of compulsory testing would happen, and authorities saying it would be carried out alongside a citywide lockdown and movement restrictions.

Carrie Lam's administration has been criticised for its handling of the pandemic

"What we are doing now is planning and preparation but (mass testing) is not a priority for now," she said, adding that the plan for universal testing has not been dropped.

"If we do it, it must be for the greatest benefit of Hong Kong," Ms Lam said.

Health experts have criticised Ms Lam's administration for unclear messaging on where Covid-positive patients should go, the city's low vaccination rates among the elderly and a lack of preparation for medical staffing and facilities.

Despite two years of hard-won breathing room thanks to following the mainland's zero-Covid strategy, Hong Kong is now the midst of its worst-ever coronavirus outbreak.

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It has recorded more than half a million cases since the Omicron-fuelled fifth wave kicked off, exponentially outstripping the total number of 12,000 infections the city saw in the pandemic's first two years.

It also now has one of the world's highest fatality rates in the developed world, the majority of deaths among its vaccine-hesitant elderly.

Elderly carehomes have been particularly hard-hit, as staff are downed with the virus, and Covid-positive patients are pushed away from overcrowded hospital wards.

A patient is transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong

Ms Lam said that care home residents across Hong Kong would receive at least one Covid jab by 18 March.

So far, government data shows that fewer than 60% of people aged 70-79 and only 32% of the above-80s have received two jabs.

A University of Hong Kong survey estimated that about 1.8 million residents have been infected so far, about one in four of the population.