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EXPLAINED: How Austria’s mass-testing plan will work

An estimated 200,000 people will be tested across the country in the first week of December as Austria rolls out its mass testing scheme.

EXPLAINED: How Austria's mass-testing plan will work
Photo: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

Austria’s mass testing scheme will kick off in the first week of December, with all teachers in schools and kindergartens along with police officers to be tested. 

The scheme kicks off in two phases. 

Saturday, December 5th and Sunday, December 6th, all state and federal teachers and kindergarten supervisors will be tested. 

On December 7th and 8th, 40,000 police officers will be tested across the country. 

Coronavirus in Austria: These pharmacies offer rapid antigen tests 

According to Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung, “a broad series of tests is planned for the entire population before Christmas”. 

Participation in the scheme is voluntary. 

The testing will take place at around 100 testing stations which will be set up across the country. 

The tests for teachers will be carried out by the Austrian Education Ministry through each state department, while the police testing will be conducted by each state’s police department. 

Medical staff will be trained by Austrian health authorities and the Austrian military. 

Seven million tests have been ordered – with more to come

Seven million tests have already been ordered by the government for the scheme, with four million provided from Roche and three million provided from Siemens. 

The cost of the tests is 50 million euros, reports Kronen Zeitung. 

The scheme will use antigen testing.

Unlike PCR tests, antigen tests can provide a result in less than half an hour. However, they are less accurate as they measure surface proteins of Covid-19 particles. 

This means that they are most effective for people who are highly infectious – i.e. with a high viral load. This means that unlike PCR tests there is the possibility that positive people may falsely receive a negative test result. 

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HEALTH

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.

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