Austria to roll out nationwide rapid testing in schools

Austria to roll out nationwide rapid testing in schools
A mobile test bus operating a similar scheme in Portugal. Photo: PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP
Austria has approved a plan to use rapid coronavirus tests in schools across the country. The plan will involve mobile ‘test teams’ who visit schools where infections are suspected.

Under the plan, mobile test teams will be dispensed to schools across the country in the case of suspected coronavirus infections, reports ORF

Using rapid tests, people with symptoms can be tested for the virus with a result available in a few minutes. 

After the success of a pilot project in Lower Austria, Vienna, Tyrol and Carinthia, the scheme will be rolled out nationwide from December. 

EXPLAINED: How will Vienna's shipping container rapid testing plan work? 

Education Minister Heinz Faßmann on Wednesday that the goal of the scheme was to identify infections early and prevent disruptions in schools. 

“Suspected coronavirus cases should disrupt everyday school life as little as possible. If children or teachers wait a long time for a test or an assessment, this is anything but beneficial for the classroom. The negative effects are significant,” he said. 

Mobile test teams have been active in Vienna since September, where 5,900 people were tested, 3.5 percent of whom were positive. 

How does it work? 

Teachers or students who are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus can contact the testing teams, who are dispatched immediately. 

The team, which includes several “medical specialists” will conduct a rapid antigen test on the suspected case. The test results are then available in minutes. 

If the test is negative, the lesson can continue and no further tests or quarantines are necessary. 

If the test is positive, the local health authorities are informed and a process for quarantine measures is set in motion, with local health authorities deciding how to proceed. 

Students under 14 will need parental consent to be tested. 

“All in all, with these rapid tests we are relieving the children, parents, and school, because waiting has been extremely uncomfortable up to now,” said Faßmann. 

 


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