Free distribution of antigen self-tests will end in November

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In the debate about free tests in Austria, Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) wants to take at least the “living room tests” out of play as of November. Indeed, the free distribution of CoV self-tests by pharmacies is to expire at the end of October, Mückstein announced in a statement. In addition, he wants to evaluate until then whether symptomless people can then continue to be tested for the coronavirus free of charge in pharmacies.

Limited until the end of August – extension until the end of October
Actually, the “living room tests” and the free tests at pharmacies and doctors’ home pharmacies are limited until the end of August. Mückstein now announces that the rules will be extended by decree at least until the end of October. With 1 November the distribution of the free antigen self-tests in pharmacies is then to expire. These were previously also valid for proving “3G” status, provided they were recorded in a reporting system of the federal states – with the exception of Vienna, where they are considered too unreliable and have therefore not been recognized since July. Not affected by the change, according to the ministry, are the more reliable PCR self-tests.

“Smooth transition”
Mückstein hopes the extension until the end of October will result in a “smooth transition.” “Now we have to give people enough time to get the 1st and 2nd pricks,” Mückstein said in a statement. He also announced that by the end of October he would also evaluate how to proceed with free testing of asymptomatic people in pharmacies and with family doctors. NEOS and ÖVP politicians are calling for an end to free tests for people who voluntarily forgo vaccination against Covid-19.

However, the president of the Chamber of Pharmacists, Ulrike Mursch-Edlmayr, welcomed the extension of the free tests now announced by Mückstein. “The extension of these close-to-home and low-threshold testing opportunities in the pharmacies around the corner makes a decisive contribution to preventing the virus from spreading unnoticed in the population again with the start of the new school year and the colder season,” she said in a joint dispatch with the minister.

It is not known exactly how much the CoV testing campaign has cost so far. In July, Mückstein had spoken of costs far in excess of one billion euros.

— source: ORF.at/agencies/picture: pixabay.com

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