Austria’s largest event centre will be playing an integral part in Vienna’s coronavirus testing strategy from 1 December: anyone wishing to visit old people’s homes, nursing homes and hospitals, as well as employees of critical infrastructure providers or the emergency services, can take a free rapid test that provides results after just 15 minutes. Alternatively, drive-through testing lanes for anyone with symptoms are available in the venue’s underground car park. It is the largest Covid-19 testing facility to be set up in Austria so far – with a daily capacity of up to 15,000 tests.
This September, in the first pilot project of its kind in Europe, we tested 2,000 students from the Vienna University of Business and Economics in a very short space of time. And now we are putting all of our planning and management experience as well as the necessary testing lane logistics at the disposal of the City of Vienna,confirmed Austria Center Vienna Director Susanne Baumann-Sollner.
Walk in or drive through
The testing facility is open from 7am to 7pm seven days a week from 1 December. To begin with, three testing lanes will be set up on Bruno-Kreisky-Platz – the covered square in front of the main entrance to the Austria Center Vienna – for use by people without symptoms, who can travel to the centre by public transport (U1 underground station Kaisermuhlen-VIC). The tests are aimed at anyone wishing to visit care homes, as well as employees of critical infrastructure providers (e.g. hospitals). People with symptoms are requested to travel to the testing centre by car and use one of the four testing lanes in the on-site parking facility. The service is provided independently of the mass testing programme operated by the federal government between 4 and 13 December. Once mass testing is completed, the capacity of the Austria Center Vienna testing facility will be expanded to up to 15,000 tests per day. The service will be available for the Viennese population to use throughout the winter.
Online registration required in advance
A negative rapid antigen test result is valid for 24 hours, with repeat testing an option. Before taking a rapid test, users must register online. Test results are provided on a printout and sent by SMS afterwards. Anyone attending the facility must bring a mask, a photo ID (e.g. passport, driving licence or e-card with photo), their social insurance number and the QR code they received when registering (on their smartphone or a printout).
The procedure for the antigen rapid testing lanes was developed under the Austria Center Vienna pilot project before being adapted with the support of the City of Vienna, and has now been standardised. Each of the individual steps involved is overseen by a member of staff on site: after applying hand sanitiser, test subjects have a swab taken from their nose or throat by a healthcare professional. Next the swab is dipped in a test solution before the subject moves on to the next station, where a few drops of the solution are applied to the test cassette, which displays a result in just a few minutes. The test cassette is checked and, if the result is negative, the subject is given written confirmation. An SMS is also sent to their phone afterwards. If the result is positive, the test subject is isolated before a healthcare professional administers an additional PCR test and initiates the contact tracing process.