Regulation on free corona tests is available: Numerous exceptions

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As announced, the testing strategy in Austria will be restructured from 1 April. The necessary decree was published by the Ministry of Health late on Wednesday evening. It comes into force on 1 April and is valid until 30 June for the time being.

In principle, every citizen will in the future have five free antigen and PCR tests per month. This limited quota does not apply to suspected cases and vulnerable settings’ residents, visitors, and employees. Initially, these are care facilities, whereby the test will be made available free of charge to residents and staff, and visitors. The same applies to institutions for the disabled, hospitals and health resorts.

Tests that go beyond these requirements are subject to a fee. The basic quota of tests continues to be financed by the federal government, the implementation of the testing strategy is the responsibility of the federal provinces.

Gargle tests for people with symptoms
Also exempt from the restriction are 24-hour caregivers and personal assistants of disabled persons. In kindergartens, staff and children can continue to be tested without contingency. The Ministry of Education is responsible for schools. The same rule as in kindergartens is established for refugee facilities. Finally, employees of emergency services have also come under the exceptions.

It is also clear that symptomatic persons – i.e., suspected cases – will get their tests free of charge. This does not require any change in the ordinance. The Ministry of Health considers the hotline 1450 to be responsible.

However, the federal government does not specify the form of organization. This means that the tests can be carried out more symptomatically elsewhere. If, for example, Vienna believed that symptomatic persons should best get tested via “Alles gurgelt,” this would be possible there free of charge.

What if I have bunkered tests?
Those who have bunkered tests can still redeem them in April, but not indefinitely. In addition to the five “new” PCR test kits, five more can be evaluated free of charge if they have already been purchased. How the whole thing is organized in the respective province is up to the province. Vienna, for example, has already announced that it will continue to rely on “Alles gurgelt.” Styria, on the other hand, prefers to handle it through pharmacies.

Testing if necessary
Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said in a press release on Wednesday evening that it was essential to maintain the basic features of the testing system to be well prepared for the autumn. If a new virus variant should make it necessary, everything could be quickly restarted. At the moment, however, a redimensioning of the test regime makes the most sense. Tests would now be used primarily where they are needed.

This rule, which essentially fixes the extent to which the federal government reimburses the costs to the states, runs from the beginning of April until the end of June. By then, at the latest, a new regulation must be in place, or the one that is now starting will be changed.

“Against the background of a higher immunity in the population, tests should now primarily be used where needed,” the ministry says about the regulation. At the same time, wastewater monitoring will play a more significant role in the future to “reliably monitor the pandemic in the long term.”

  • sources: kurier.at/vienna.at/picture: hp
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