Austrian GPs can now conduct ‘rapid’ coronavirus testing

Since Thursday, Austrian GPs have been permitted to carry out ‘rapid coronavirus testing’, however the rollout has not been without problems.

Austrian GPs can now conduct 'rapid' coronavirus testing

On Wednesday, October 21st, Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober announced that general practitioners across the country would now be allowed to carry out rapid testing for coronavirus.  

Pursuant to the scheme, GPs will be able to decide voluntary whether to join the testing scheme – with the costs of the tests covered by health insurance providers. 

Patients can make an appointment online or via the telephone, before being swabbed by their doctor. 

However, as reported by Austria’s Kurier newspaper on Friday, enthusiasm for the scheme has been dampened on its rollout – by a lack of tests. 

The Austrian Medical Association, said that while the scheme should be welcomed amid rising infection rates, there were not enough tests made available. 

“Even if they (doctors) would like to test, they cannot yet because the tests are not there. It cannot be that doctors who are currently under constant stress anyway have to deal with this,” said Edgar Wutscher from the Austrian Medical Association.

When making the announcement, Anschober promised there would be enough tests. 

The President of the Medical Association, Thomas Szekeres, also said that many practices were unable to carry out the tests as they did not have enough space to separate possibly infected patients from those visiting for other health ailments. 

The regulation requires that non-infectious and potentially infectious patients be kept apart as part of the testing regime. 

Unlike the PCR tests, the rapid tests provide an answer within 20 minutes – and only cost 10 euros. They are however considered to be less accurate. 


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EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

Austria's capital city Vienna has begun registration appointments for those who want to get a monkeypox vaccine. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How to register for the monkeypox vaccine in Vienna

As of September 9th, people can make reservations for monkeypox vaccination in Vienna, authorities announced. It is possible to register for the vaccine using the health service line by calling 1450 or via the Impfservice website.

The City of Vienna has said the pre-registration is needed because all planning will be done through a central system due to a shortage of vaccines.

“Please understand that due to the vaccine shortage, we cannot offer preventive monkeypox vaccination to everyone interested. We can use the reservation platform to quickly allocate available appointments and contact interested parties as soon as there are more vaccines”, the authorities said.

After the registration, people will be contacted to book appointments on September 14th. The first available date will be September 19th.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Who should be vaccinated against monkeypox?

Vaccination of the general population is currently not recommended.

Preventive vaccination is only offered to health care workers with a very high risk of exposure to people with monkeypox (designated monkeypox departments/outpatient clinics/offices) and persons with individual risk behaviour (persons with frequently changing sexual contacts), the City of Vienna said.

The health authorities in Vienna also have a specific information sheet in English with more information on the disease.

Monkeypox is a notifiable disease caused by a virus closely related to the smallpox virus and which can cause a condition similar to smallpox but rarely deadly. People with immunodeficiencies, pregnant women and children are at risk of more severe symptoms.

The virus spreads from person to person through contact with infectious skin lesions, via air droplets through speaking, coughing, sneezing, or other body fluids, and when having prolonged and close physical contact, e.g. through sexual intercourse.

READ ALSO: Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Usually, the first symptoms show up 5 to 14 days (at the latest, 21 days) after exposure. These include fever, general exhaustion, headaches, muscle and body aches, gastrointestinal problems and frequently painfully swollen lymph nodes.

“If you have symptoms and have had contact with someone with monkeypox, you must self-isolate at once and call 1450. If you have a confirmed monkeypox infection, you need to stay in self-isolation until the last crust has fallen off”, the Austrian authorities added.