Almost 30,000 people in Austria were on sick leave with a coronavirus infection last week, and the trend is rising, warns the ÖGK. Wastewater monitoring now also shows a clear picture: since the outbreak of the pandemic, the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater has never been as high as it is now.
Now that quarantine, reporting obligations, and free tests have been abolished, the most reliable means of measuring the viral load in the country is wastewater monitoring, i.e., the systematic recording of coronavirus concentrations in wastewater. And this speaks for itself: an all-time record was set at the end of November.
So even after the end of mandatory reporting and free tests, it is obvious that the number of people actually infected is currently at sky-high levels. After all, wastewater monitoring was recently extended to 48 sewage treatment plants, which means that around 58% of the population is covered, according to the Ministry of Health.
Mandatory testing in Viennese healthcare facilities
Even if there is no mention of this in federal policy, the current coronavirus wave has already led to the first stricter measures at the regional level: The Vienna Healthcare Association (WIGEV) has now made testing compulsory in all its facilities for symptomatic patients, even if the symptoms are only mild, as announced on Tuesday.
Those who test positive are isolated and given “standardized treatment.” WIGEV staff are provided with protective measures such as masks in the event of contact with people who have tested positive or suspected cases. Areas with vulnerable patients are specially protected. However, there is no general obligation to wear masks or take COVID tests, as WIGEV emphasizes.
This is where molecular biologist Elling comes in. “Viral load in wastewater is NOT the same as disease burden in the country,” he emphasizes, and he hopes that “second or multiple infections will no longer have such an impact.” Nevertheless, he calls for more “courage to wear a mask” and increased political communication to increase vaccination coverage.
- source: krone.at/picture: pixabay.com
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