Although the number of new infections continues to fall, the situation is still serious, commented Health Minister Rudolf Anschober on the current Corona data on Sunday. 4,047 new patients were reported. If the numbers in the hospitals do not continue to rise, we could prevent the capacities from being exceeded, emphasized the head of department. Politicians are now relying on the announced mass tests. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz sees this as a “great opportunity” to prevent a third lockdown, as he emphasized in a media report. Around 300 test lines are currently being set up in Vienna. The start will take place on December 4th – two days later than originally planned, City Councilor for Health Peter Hacker announced on Sunday in a media report at Messe Wien.
The construction work in the three stations – the trade fair, the Marxhalle and the town hall – has already started in full. The large-scale tests are to be carried out in the federal capital by December 13th, with the armed forces being responsible for this. The necessary infrastructure is being set up by the Vienna Fire Brigade. The capacity should be enough for around 150,000 tests per day, it was said at noon on Sunday. Operation is scheduled for ten hours a day, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Registration for this is possible from December 2nd.
Capacity for 1.2 million people
In Vienna it is assumed that a maximum of 60 percent of the population take advantage of the offer. That would mean 1.2 million people will be tested. The capacities have been aligned accordingly, stressed Hacker. The fact that two days less than planned are now available should not lead to restrictions here.
Hacker announced that the Ministry of Health’s electronic pre-notification system should be available until December 2nd. Interested parties must register on the platform. Carrying out such an action without registering was “unthinkable”, the head of department was convinced: “There can only be chaos in front of the door.” The queues should be kept as small as possible. Registration by telephone could also be possible.
176 test lines will be available in the fair, in Marxhalle 70 and in Stadthalle 40. The antigen tests will be carried out by the armed forces. If this results in a positive test, the Viennese health authorities carry out a PCR test immediately afterwards in the hall.
Hacker assumes that there will be a large number of false positive tests in the rapid tests. That is why it is also possible to check the results. Hacker today praised the “constructive exchange” with the armed forces, the Ministry of Health and the rescue organizations involved and the fire brigade. The city council reported that numerous volunteers had already volunteered to help.
Focus on hospitals
Anschober shifted the focus to the situation in the hospitals: An overload of the intensive care units, as is currently the case, cannot and must not be a permanent condition, said Anschober. “The interventions that have now been postponed must be made up for quickly. And the onset of the flu epidemic with a significant additional burden on the hospitals is to be expected in December,” said the minister.
The development of the reproduction factor is encouraging, which at 0.88 is now well below 1 again. That is the prerequisite for further falling numbers of new infections. Anschober: “The coming week, the last part of the lockdown, must lead to a massive reduction in the number of new infections. We can and must all contribute to this.”
The goal is “careful opening steps”
However, the “Kleine Zeitung” briefly dampened the expectations of an early relaxation of the corona measures: “We will have to live with further massive restrictions after December 7th.” In any case, there will be no “hasty opening steps”. The aim is to take “careful opening steps” in shops and schools from December 7th. However, this depends on the number of infections. The higher these are, “the more difficult it will be to set opening steps,” said Kurz.
Information letter to the schools
Meanwhile, Education Minister Heinz Faßmann announced in a letter to the schools over the weekend how the corona mass tests for teachers on December 5th and 6th should work. From the beginning of next week, they should be able to book a test appointment near their place of residence via the appointment booking platform; according to the letter, 100 test stations are available nationwide. In Vienna, Tyrol and Vorarlberg, the teachers are also tested as part of the general mass tests.
By booking specific appointments, waiting times on site should be kept short and crowds avoided, according to the letter to the teachers and school administration staff in those six federal states in which the testing of the employees of schools and kindergartens marks the start of the mass test (Burgenland, Lower Austria , Upper Austria, Carinthia, Styria, Salzburg). By combining personal data with a unique number of a test kit, mix-ups of test results should be avoided, the results themselves should be sent to the teachers promptly, e.g. by SMS or email. In another letter at the beginning of next week, the teachers will be informed about the specific registration process.
In the letter to the Viennese school staff, reference is made to the general mass tests from December 4th to 13th in the Messe Wien, the Marx Halle and the Stadthalle. The process differs only in one point: “For quality assurance, if the antigen test result is positive, a PCR test is carried out immediately afterwards.” In Tyrol and Vorarlberg, more information on the nationwide tests there will follow between December 4th and 6th at the beginning of next week.
In the letter Faßmann appeals to take part in the tests. “You not only get a snapshot of your infection status, but also make a significant contribution to safe school operations.” (grail / apa)