Chancellor Kurz: COVID self-tests will be upgraded and focus on regional measures

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The federal government discussed on Monday, 21 March 2021 – with experts, the representatives of the opposition as well as the provincial governors. The stated goal: to push back the spread of the coronavirus – especially in eastern Austria – and its mutants. After the marathon talks, however, the Turquoise-Green coalition failed to present a clear strategy for achieving this goal. Instead, it was decided to focus on regionally differentiated steps – and to look at more indicators.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) formulated the roadmap as follows: “Day by day, we can take a step toward normality.” Specifically, “Everything that is delivered will be vaccinated” – at last count, about 30,000 people per day. About 7.5 million Austrians, two-thirds of whom, the head of government said, wanted to be vaccinated, according to surveys. By summer, all those willing to be vaccinated should have received at least one dose. “In April, the focus will be on people over 65, in May on those over 50, and in June it will be everyone else’s turn,” Kurz announced.

In the coming months, the government will no longer look only at the number of vaccinations and infections to decide on further steps, but also at vaccination progress and the situation in intensive care units, Kurz announced. And expressed optimism: “The light at the end of the tunnel is near.” To get even closer to it, he said, it was decided to “continue on the path of regionalization.” That means:

  • In Tyrol, Salzburg, Upper Austria, Styria and Carinthia, there will be no openings, but also no closures.
  • In Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland, however, the situation is more acute, as the virus is currently spreading faster there. The three federal states are therefore to discuss measures among themselves or together with the Ministry of Health in order to take countermeasures.
    In districts with a seven-day incidence of more than 400, restrictive measures must be taken immediately, as was recently the case in Hermagor, Kurz announced.
  • Lastly, the testing offer is also to be further expanded, especially around Easter. The self-tests are to become more relevant – also in the test streets. Specifically, as Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) explained, these should also be able to be carried out there under supervision – “in a controlled setting”.
  • Throughout Europe, the infection figures are rising again, Anschober then explained: “Almost all of Europe has arrived in the third wave,” he said, meaning that the number of positive corona cases is rising again. Testing is therefore central to keeping track, he said: Currently, more than 250,000 tests are taken on any given day in Austria, he said.

The health minister said he was relieved that no further relaxation had been agreed. The British variant of the virus is currently driving up the number of cases. It is alarming that an increasing number of “young people” are being admitted to intensive care units. What’s more, the probability of ending up in intensive care because of an infection has risen from 0.7 to 1.3 percent due to the mutant.

  • source: diepresse.at/picture: unsplash.com
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