Are the living room tests coming back? Gecko advises on test strategy

“We are now at the beginning of the fifth wave and have a very well developed test system. An immediate adjustment of the test strategy is currently being discussed in Gecko. It has to do with resources, we are expecting the results this week,” said Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein ( Green) on Tuesday. This also applies to a possible re-approval of the living room tests.

“In any case, we have to make sure that everyone who wants to work in Austria has to get a reliable and easily accessible test,” he said on the sidelines of a press conference. “I’m expecting an answer from Gecko this week as to whether living room tests will be included in the test regime again.” In Upper Austria, the ÖVP and FPÖ are calling for the living room tests to be returned, which should again be valid as 3G proof. Linz Mayor Klaus Luger (SPÖ) spoke out against it on Tuesday. Instead, he calls for an expansion of the PCR test offer.

Changes on Thursday?

Any changes to the corona measures – i.e. also to the tests – are specified in the ordinance. The next opportunity to change the current ordinance is next Thursday: the next meeting of the main committee of the National Council is scheduled for 8 a.m. In any case, the routine extension of the current COVID-19 protective measures ordinance (and thus also a continuation of the “lockdown for the unvaccinated”) is expected.

Mückstein said that the topic should always be seen in connection with compulsory vaccination. Because of the strong delta wave and five million vaccinations in November and December, the calculated total immunity in Austria was 91 percent at the beginning of December, he once again referred to the high immunity rate at the time (the new virus variant Omicron then brought about a change in this regard, note .). Vaccination also protects against new variants, “that’s for sure,” said Mückstein. The vaccination is therefore a medium-term measure, but this does not apply to the omicron wave (because vaccinations that have now been given come too late for the current wave, note).

Vaccination as a “widely supported measure”

When asked about (ex-)Greens who were critical of vaccination, such as the former federal spokeswoman for the Greens, Madeleine Petrovic, Mückstein said that the vaccination requirement was a “very broad-based measure”. This applies to the Green Leader, the Green Club, the coalition partner ÖVP and also the opposition parties SPÖ and Neos. Criticism of this is of course also legitimate.

The FPÖ “West Axis” – the state parties from Tyrol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg – meanwhile called for a “commitment of all reasonable MPs in the National Council and Federal Council” against compulsory vaccination. Salzburg’s FPÖ boss Marlene Svazek saw the Salzburg SPÖ boss David Egger called for, because he had “rumbled against compulsory vaccination in the media in the past few weeks”. “Now it’s his Salzburg National Councilor Cornelia Ecker’s turn to show that the Salzburg SPÖ is united against this vaccination requirement,” said Svazek.

The Tyrolean FPÖ state party chairman Markus Abwerzger, in turn, called on Tyrol’s SP state party leader Georg Dornauer to act, whose “party comrades should – “as he boastfully announced a few days ago” – vote against compulsory vaccination. And Vorarlberg’s FPÖ state chairman Christof Bitschi is demanding one “Vorarlberg Alliance” of all members of the National Council against compulsory vaccination.

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