Vienna to offer free gargle PCR tests at home in future

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The City of Vienna is taking the next step in creating test offers. In cooperation with the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, the Viennese start-up Lead Horizon, the distribution partners Rewe and Post, and the Ministry of Health, the already well-known PCR gargle tests will – as planned – be available to all Viennese for home use free of charge starting in March.

The name of the project, which will initially be available in a pilot phase to 60,000 employees of Viennese companies and organizations: “Alles gurgelt”.

The effort involved is manageable: the tests can be picked up at all Bipa stores, at home you enter your data into a web app, gargle, bring the sample back to a Bipa store, and within 24 hours you receive an official test result valid for 72 hours.

At the presentation on Friday in the City Hall, Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) was pleased about a “wonderful cooperation between the City of Vienna and the Viennese economy”, President of the Chamber of Commerce Walter Ruck about the “waddle-simple” application, which is a “huge opportunity” for the economic area of Vienna to keep the restrictions caused by the coronavirus epidemic as low as possible.

During the pilot phase, which has been running for two weeks, 12,000 tests have been carried out so far, while at the same time significantly greater loads have already been simulated for the IT systems. One is actually ready for the roll-out for the broad masses, said Hacker, who emphasized advantages beyond the creation of further test possibilities.

Testing for virus mutations
For example, he said, the special feature is that relatives can take the gargle tests to bedridden people and perform the test with them. In addition, he said, the tests are of “top quality” and also offer health authorities the opportunity to test all positive results for possible mutations right away. “And monitoring this development is crucial,” Hacker emphasized.

The project is being implemented with logistics partners Bipa/Rewe and Austrian Post. The city is also relying on cooperation with Austrian companies for the evaluation, Ludwig emphasized. The test kit used is a patented and officially recognized procedure developed by the Viennese start-up Lead Horizon and has been in use since early summer 2020.

How it’s done
Gargling is done with video instructions and a web app in front of a computer or smartphone, as Angela Hengsberger, authorized signatory of Lead Horizon, explained. Digital documentation is used to confirm the identity of the test subjects – specifically, an ID or passport must be held up to the camera, and the gargling is also filmed. This ensures that tests can be uniquely assigned to a person. With the issued confirmation of the test result, the test is also valid for visits to services such as a visit to the hairdresser, according to the new federal Corona rules.

Samples are collected through Bipa stores or participating companies and transported by mail to the Lifebrain Covid laboratory, where the evaluation takes place. The test persons will be informed digitally about the result within 24 hours, if the test is handed in at the store by 9 a.m., the result should be there by 11 p.m.. In case of questions or problems, the test persons can contact a separate service telephone. The service is also available in several languages.

0.09 percent positive rate
Initial results of the tests conducted are already available. In the first pilot week, 5,590 samples were evaluated using the PCR method – five of them were positive. This corresponds to a positivity rate of 0.09 percent. Around 120,000 test kits have been distributed so far, and this quantity can be distributed weekly from now until the end of the pilot project, according to those responsible for the project.

  • source: kurier.at/picture:pixabay.com

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