Austrian health minister resigns, citing ill health

Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober resigned Tuesday, saying he had developed health issues due to the amount of work he faced during the pandemic.

He also said he had faced death threats and has been under police protection since November.

“The worst health crisis in decades … has completely changed all of our lives, including my life and my political work, of course,” Anschober told reporters during a press conference in Vienna Tuesday morning.

Noting that the pandemic began only a few weeks after he took up the job, he said that his time in office “seemed like 15 years” rather than 15 months. “I have practically been working ceaselessly for 14 months,” he said, adding: “I have obviously overworked myself.”

Anschober said he had been diagnosed as suffering from high blood pressure, high blood sugar and early-stage tinnitus, which he described as “the logical consequences” of overworking. He already had to take a week’s leave due to health issues last month.

Following his doctor’s advice, he had therefore asked Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen to relieve him of his duties as of next Monday. Austria, he said, needed a health minister who is “100 percent fit” during this crisis.

A decision on a successor is expected later Tuesday. According to Austrian media, one possible candidate is Stefan Wallner, a former state secretary at the health ministry.

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