The teachers in Linz, Austria, are ready outside the large exhibit hall where they will be tested for covid-19. It’s Friday, December 4, and the educators have followed the government’s call for a test, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.
Unfortunately, they are out in a very good time. Due to an error in the booking system, the teachers have been called to test a day or two in advance.
– So often, the government promises a lot, but nothing works, Thomas Stelzer, who belongs to the ÖVP party and serves as governor of Upper Austria, told the newspaper Die Presse.
The 1st of December Mass testing started the new coronavirus in which the Austrian government hopes several million people will take part. Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says the tests help break the chains of infection, and call the strategy a new chapter in the fight against the pandemic.
“In this way, we want to make it possible for people to celebrate Christmas with their immediate family,” the Chancellor said on November 20.
The assumption that the spread of infection is reduced by a broad test based on people who are asymmetrical but infectious has a chance to discover that they carry an infection. These people should then quarantine, thereby avoiding contact with people who might otherwise be infected.
In Austria in it is voluntary to prove yourself, but the whole population is invited to participate. Anyone who wants to prove himself must register on the internet, through the criticized system that gave the teachers in Linz the wrong time in early December. Criticism has also come from people who were not told they had received a negative test result. In addition, the computer system leaked personal data from 800 of those tested. The technical problems have led staff at several test stations to switch to using physical forms.
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Also in Slovakia Mass tests have been carried out during the autumn. Two-thirds of the population, 3.6 million people, were tested during the operation, which began in October. In connection with the tests, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said the strategy does not currently apply in Sweden.
– Then we would have to stop testing a lot of people who really need to be tested. It would be a strange reprioritisation. It’s good to be able to test, but you must have an idea why you’re testing. You have to test and detect an infection. It’s a snapshot, after all. Those who were healthy today can get sick tomorrow, Anders Tegnell said.
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This spring, a state epidemiologist gave similar answers when calls for mass tests came from a political perspective.
– It’s not just about having a lab machine, but you have to have the whole chain around testing for it to work properly, Anders Tegnell said in March.
Similar objections has also been heard in Austria. Epidemiologist Gerald Gartlehner tells Die Presse that 100 per cent tests are not safe, and that a negative result does not mean people can usually meet.
– I suspect that politicians only do this for its sake. They want to show the population they are doing something so everyone can have a nice Christmas, he said.