Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Covid test
Austria will update its testing strategy so that in future not everyone will take PCR tests where testing infrastructure is under pressure. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP
Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

Austria to review its testing system

Thomas Starlinger, member of the Covid Crisis Coordination (GECKO), has recommended focusing testing on the most critical areas of society (such as healthcare, social care and schools) in areas where the PCR testing system is under strain. Antigen tests should be used as the first alternative where there are no longer enough tests for everyone. Starlinger explained the change in the TV show ZiB Nacht.

Omicron’s higher rate of transmission means the country is reaching an all-time high in new cases, putting the systems under heavy demand. 

Security gaps uncovered in testing data

An NGO that campaigns for data protection has found a security hole in the nationwide Österreich testet (Austria is testing) platform run by the Ministry of Health. A pharmacy is said to have had access to the data of potentially hundreds of thousands of people across Austria.

The security gap was discovered by a web developer commissioned by the said pharmacy, who immediately documented it and contacted the Ministry of Health, Die Presse reports, but this was initially ignored.

More than 300,000 unemployed people received €150 benefit 

This was a one-off payment in addition to standard unemployment benefits, and the third bonus of its kind since the start of the pandemic, following supplements of up to €450 in September and December 2020.

The Ministry of Labour said another set of payments would be made in early February to reach all those who were entitled to the funds, some of whom for example may have not had all the documentation before the first deadline.

People in Austria are eligible if they either received unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance (Arbeitslosengeld or Notstandshilfe) for at least 30 days in November and December 2021, or if they received 32 days of sickness benefit (Krankengeld) having previously been unemployed. 

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