Wednesday, February 28

Austria Starts Massive Corona Tests Against Expert Advice

Austria started mass testing the population for the coronavirus on Friday, despite doubts from scientific government advisers.

 

Long lines formed at screening centres when testing started in Vienna and in the western provinces of Tyrol and Vorarlberg, broadcasters ORF and Oe24 reported. Other regions will follow in the coming days.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced the voluntary testing plan in late November to delay the transmission of the virus. If several million of Austria’s nearly 9 million residents are tested, authorities could find and isolate many Covid-19 patients who show no symptoms, he argued.

However, according to reports from a recent meeting, “a significant number of scientific advisers” have told Health Minister Rudolf Anschober that they are against the plan.

They warned that negative tests would give people the wrong idea that they can have a usual Christmas holiday with family at the end of December, just like in other years.

The experts are also concerned about false results from the rapid tests being used.

Rather than screening the entire population, the experts prefer to focus on specific high-risk groups and identify people who have come into contact with infected individuals.

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