In an attempt to better trace COVID-19 infections, the City of Vienna and the Wirtschaftskammer (Austrian Economic Chambers) have announced the initiative “Alles Gurgelt” (everyone gargles) in a press conference on March 26.
Starting today, any resident of Vienna can go to the homepage allesgurgelt.at and receive a barcode which allows you to pick up 4 free PCR (“gargle”) tests per week at participating workplaces or any of the 152 BIPA branches throughout the city. The test can then be carried out at home, while recording the process via an online video.
The test samples then need to be submitted at any outlet of the REWE group (Billa, Merkur, BIPA, Penny and the gas station shops BP-Merkur Inside, Jet-Billa Stop & Shop and Shell-Billa Unterwegs). Results are then delivered digitally within 24 hours and are valid for three days.
Samples will be delivered to the laboratory by the postal service, while processing will be handled by Lead Horizon and the laboratories of the Lifebrain group, which has expanded its capacities to handle 200,000 tests per day (1.4 million per week), with the option of upgrading to 2 million weekly if necessary.
“It is important to determine where infections happen,” Mayor Michael Ludwig stated during the press conference. According to the City Councilor for Health, Peter Hacker, “Alles Gurgelt” was developed due to an expected change in Germany’s testing strategy, which will likely lead to a shortage of antigen tests.
The city is currently in talks with the ministry of education and hopes that PCR tests by “Alles Gurgelt” can replace the current “nose swab” tests at schools, at the very least for older students. In the past few weeks, the lion’s share of new cases were found among young people, with a recent study showing that about a third of infections were discovered at school.