Austria planning to test all 130,000 aged care residents plus staff for COVID-19 to head off ‘second wave’

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Health minister Rudi Anschober says testing at the country’s 918 homes will be the “big, central focus” as Austria enters “phase two” of the pandemic and begins to ease lockdown measures.

Those tests will almost double the 162,816 tests that the country has done so far on its nine million citizens – around 1.8% of its population (Australia is at 1.6%).

Austria’s rate of new infections has dropped to 0.9% per day – the lowest rate in Europe.

The Government allowed smaller shops smaller than 4,300 square feet, home improvement stores of any size, and federal parks to re-open last week with a plan to permit larger retailers to open on 1 May if there isn’t a major surge in infections.

However, the Minister says the aged care testing is key to ensuring there is not a “second wave” of infections.

“Why are we doing this?” he said at a press conference on Friday. “Simply, international experience shows that this area is the area with the greatest risk.”

Staff at the shops that have re-opened will also be subject to testing.

Interestingly, senior politicians had also proposed a mandatory app to trace people’s contacts – but this was met with an angry response from the public and the media.

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