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16 Apr, 2020 15:06

Containment 2.0: Austria to test ALL patients & staff of nursing homes in new strategy to prevent ‘second wave’ of Covid-19

Containment 2.0: Austria to test ALL patients & staff of nursing homes in new strategy to prevent ‘second wave’ of Covid-19

The Austrian government has eased its quarantine regime amid a continuous drop in new coronavirus cases. It has also developed a 'containment' strategy to prevent another outbreak, with a particular focus on the elderly in care.

The "central focus" of Vienna's new strategy will be on the "highest risk group," Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said at a press conference, as he unveiled the plans to test all residents and employees of retirement homes across the country.

Thus far, Austria had only tested people with symptoms, especially if they had been to a known hotspot or were in close contact with an infected person. Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak on its soil, the Alpine nation conducted around 157,000 such tests.

Also on rt.com Austria, Denmark & Italy tentatively emerge from coronavirus lockdown

Now, it is about to test almost as many people, since the ambitious government program will cover a total of 130,000 people in more than 900 facilities. The authorities do not plan to stop just there, though, as the program is expected to later be expanded to cover medical personnel and retail staff. The minister did not name any exact time frame for the new measures but said that the nursing homes' residents and staff are to be tested "in the coming weeks."

"We are talking about a containment 2.0" strategy, the minister said, adding that the government's goal is to "actually prevent a second wave" of the epidemic. The nation has entered a phase that may be "even more difficult and challenging" as it gradually reopens facilities closed during the lockdown, he warned.

Austria was one of the first European nations to start lifting coronavirus restrictions, along with Denmark. It allowed certain businesses to reopen and relaxed its rules on social distancing and sporting events, in particular by letting professional football teams train ahead of the final games of the season.

The easing of restrictions, however, sparked some concerns in the World Health Organization, which repeatedly warned the European nations that the continent is still "in the eye of the storm" of the coronavirus.

Also on rt.com WHO warns Europe still in ‘the eye of the storm’ of Covid-19, as Denmark & Austria lift lockdown measures

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