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Austria to make coronavirus tests available free at pharmacies

Coronavirus antigen tests will be made free at pharmacies across Austria.

Austria to make coronavirus tests available free at pharmacies
Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

Austria on Wednesday passed a resolution in the National Council to offer coronavirus antigen tests free of charge at pharmacies across the country. 

The resolution was initiated by Austria’s Social Democratic Party (SPÖ), winning support from all other major parties other than the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ)

The non-binding resolution is expected to become law in the coming days, Austria’s Kurier newspaper reports, after which the “free coronavirus self-tests should be distributed as soon as possible”. 

EXPLAINED: Why is Austria making FFP2 masks mandatory? 

SPÖ boss Pamela Rendi-Wagner said for the country’s battle against the virus to be effective, the tests must come to people’s living rooms. 

“Testing is key in fighting pandemics. Away with the bureaucracy, (we need) more personal responsibility. The coronavirus tests have to go to people's living rooms,” she said

“The tests for self-use are available, now they have to be procured by the government and offered free of charge and as widely as possible through pharmacies.”

The tests will be available to anyone in Austria with an e-card (health care card) and will be available in all pharmacies. 

Pursuant to the plan, Austrians can either test themselves immediately or hold onto the tests until they feel sick or have come into contact with someone with the virus. 

From there, they will be able to quarantine if a test is positive. 

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HEALTH

WHO expects more monkeypox-related deaths in Europe

The World Health Organization's European office said Saturday that more monkeypox-related deaths can be expected, following reports of the first fatalities outside Africa, while stressing that severe complications were still be rare.

WHO expects more monkeypox-related deaths in Europe

“With the continued spread of monkeypox in Europe, we will expect to see more deaths,” Catherine Smallwood, Senior Emergency Officer at WHO Europe, said in a statement.

Smallwood emphasised that the goal needs to be “interrupting transmission quickly in Europe and stopping this outbreak”.

However, Smallwood stressed that in most cases the disease heals itself without the need for treatment.

“The notification of deaths due to monkeypox does not change our assessment of the outbreak in Europe. We know that although self-limiting in most cases, monkeypox can cause severe complications,” Smallwood noted.

The Spanish health ministry recorded a second monkeypox-related death on Saturday, a day after Spain and Brazil reported their first fatalities.

The announcements marked what are thought to be the first deaths linked to the current outbreak outside Africa.

Spanish authorities would not give the specific cause of death for the fatalities pending the outcome of an autopsy, while Brazilian authorities underlined that the man who died had “other serious conditions”.

“The usual reasons patients might require hospital care include help in managing pain, secondary infections, and in a small number of cases the need to manage life-threatening complications such as encephalitis,” Smallwood explained.

According to the WHO, more than 18,000 cases have been detected throughout the world outside of Africa since the beginning of May, with the majority of them in Europe.

The WHO last week declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency.

As cases surge globally, the WHO on Wednesday called on the group currently most affected by the virus — men who have sex with men — to limit their sexual partners.

Early signs of the disease include a high fever, swollen lymph glands and a chickenpox-like rash.

The disease usually heals by itself after two to three weeks, sometimes taking a month.

A smallpox vaccine from Danish drug maker Bavarian Nordic, marketed under the name Jynneos in the United States and Imvanex in Europe, has also been found to protect against monkeypox.

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