Austria Plans Mass Coronavirus Testing Before Christmas

By Kurt Stolz on 21 November 2020
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Salzburg and the Salzach River at night

Austria said Friday it would test the majority of the Alpine nation’s population, with a goal towards stemming the spread of the coronavirus and partially lifting the lockdown that went into effect one week ago.

Austrian Bundeskanzler Sebastian Kurz said that the mass testing “will open a new chapter in the battle against the pandemic,” adding that the government is doing this “to allow people to celebrate Christmas with their families.”

The military will assist in carrying out the testing program.

Coronavirus infections in Austria began to noticeably climb in mid October and reached a daily high of 9,500 on November 13.  The number of new daily infections on Friday was 6,668.

Testing will begin on December 5 and 6 with schoolteachers and Kindergarten personnel, approximately 200,000 people in total, and will continue on December 7 and 8 with all police officers, some 40,000 individuals.  Voluntary mass testing of the general population will start shortly before Christmas, officials said.

“Building on the experience of the first series of tests at the beginning of December, an Austria-wide mass testing program will be carried out in all municipalities in the week before Christmas,” said Gesundheitsminister Rudolf Anschober.  “In addition, a second mass test is to be carried out across the country at the beginning of the New Year,” he said.

In Slovakia, some two-thirds of the population was tested in the course of two weekends.  Austria wants to follow that example.

Kurz told an ORF news program that “we have decided here in Austria… to take a similar step.“

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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