Corona tests soon also at your family doctor?

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18,854 tests have been carried out in Austria in the last 24 hours – bringing the total number to 1,413,965. However: With the 1450 hotline it sometimes takes two to three days to carry out a corona test in a suspected case. In view of this long waiting period, members of the Health Minister’s Expert Council in the Ö1 Morgenjournal demanded that General Practiotioners should also be allowed to offer free corona tests.

The Medical Association and the Ministry are basically positive about the proposal. In the Ö1 Mittagsjournal, Medical Association President Thomas Szekeres said: “It makes sense that general practitioners should also take tests. Currently, there is a bottleneck in testing, he said, the system has reached its capacity limits. In a few weeks, the tests could be realized at the family doctor’s office. “I think that this can work relatively quickly.”

“Means that we absolutely need”
To determine whether someone has Covid-19 or, for example, a flu-like infection, it must be possible “for family doctors to make or arrange corona smears themselves,” said Susanne Rabady, vice president of the Society of General Medicine and member of the expert council of the Minister of Health.

“This is a tool that we absolutely need. You can’t just keep a fever baby at home for two days and say, well, let’s wait for a test. The same applies to adults,” Rabady told Ö1, “and that should be looked at first and a dangerous course ruled out. Normally one knows within 24 hours.

Rabady is already offering these tests as part of a research project in her practice – but this would also be possible in hundreds of family doctor’s practices due to the well-established contacts to laboratories that have been established for decades. Rabady: “Most of us have well-functioning laboratory logistics. A member of the laboratory staff comes by in the morning (…) and if there is anything conspicuous, they call us.

Further infections could be prevented by having our own waiting rooms, extra office hours for suspicious cases and mouth and nose protection during the investigation of suspicious cases.

With the support of family doctors, pressure could be relieved from the tense corona situation, especially in large cities like Vienna. According to Rabady, the public service, i.e. 1450, could then concentrate on contact tracing and screening.

Thomas Szekeres, President of the Austrian Medical Association, was “fundamentally positive” about the proposal in talks with the APA. “You just have to make sure that staff and other patients are not put at risk of infection,” Szekeres said.

For example, patients should under no circumstances visit a practice unannounced. Whether a doctor wants to carry out corona tests is ultimately at his discretion, however. “We cannot force anyone to do it,” said the president.

According to the morning journal, the Ministry of Health is also saying that it supports the proposal. There are talks with the health insurance company ÖGK that the costs should be covered by the federal government. The agreed increase in funds for protective equipment was a prerequisite.

Backlog demand
Virologist Christoph Steininger also appealed in ZIB2 that the effectiveness must be increased. The increasing numbers are “cause for concern”, the expert said.

“We have overslept somewhat in many areas in recent months. Therefore it is important to become more efficient and faster.

“I already demanded in May that there should be a digital connection of patients and people who want to be tested directly to the EMs,” said Steininger. “I see a need to catch up on that.

The new rapid antigen tests could be another tool in the fight against the pandemic. “But we have to abandon the idea that there is one instrument that solves all problems.”

According to him, the problem with 1450 is a systemic problem; much leaner and more efficient structures are needed.

The top priority must be to prevent another lockdown: “That we are so successful with the measures that we no longer need a lockdown. And for that we simply have to be able to react much more efficiently and quickly.

— Hector Pascua, with reports from O1 MorgenJournal and Kurier newspaper. Picture: stockilyapp.com

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