Coronavirus: Vienna begins ‘cluster buster’ bus service to test schoolchildren.

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

Vienna has launched a “cluster buster” bus service which it hopes will curb new Covid-19 infections in city schools.

Austrian health authorities hope a fleet of blue buses manned with medical staff can help keep schools open – and the economy operating – as the autumn-winter cold and flu season arrives.

The bus service will operate on call around Vienna and show up at any school where a Covid-19 case is detected.

Staff and pupils can be tested on a bus using a new procedure. Accurate results can be provided within 30 minutes and, officials hope, stop new virus clusters in their tracks.

“The great [Covid-19] challenge is how we’re fighting the clock, all the time,” said Peter Hacker, a Vienna city counsellor. “Fast results are important to give security to our children, their parents and teachers.”

The secret behind the service, say Vienna officials, is a new test developed at a city clinic. Unlike the common PCR test – requiring a lab, technicians and time – four months testing the new Lamp method (loop mediated isothermal amplification) has shown its results, ready after half an hour, are just as accurate.

“The test kits cost only a fraction [of others] and are freely available on the market,” said Dr Lothar Mayerhofer of the Donaustadt Clinic, which developed the test.

After a pilot run in the coming weeks, Viennese officials say they are open to expanding the service quickly, the second home-grown testing innovation in the Austrian capital in recent weeks.

Vienna has begun shifting its entire testing regime away from the traditional nose-throat swab system to a new “gurgle test”. This test, as well as being less invasive, has a quicker turnaround, with results available within 24 hours.

The new test requires people to gurgle a fluid for a minute in their throat and then spit the fluid into a testing jar – either in a testing centre or at home.

“Anyone who can gurgle can take this test, it’s not rocket science,” said Prof Michael Wagner, a Viennese microbiologist involved in developing the procedure.


Meanwhile in Germany, chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the ongoing rise in Covid-19 cases there, left unchecked, could see the daily rate of infection hit more than 19,000 by Christmas.

At the height of the first wave of infections in March, Germany recorded 6,000 new infections daily. On Saturday, about 2,500 new cases were registered, the highest number since April but less than a quarter of the new cases in neighbouring France.

The German leader said on Monday she was “kept awake at night” by unnamed neighbouring countries that have allowed their infection rates to explode once more.

At a closed-door meeting of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Dr Merkel said, according to participants: “We have to intervene to drive down quickly the infection spread. We have to set priorities: keep the economy going, keep schools and kindergartens open. Football is secondary.”

Germany’s Bundesliga matches resumed in July in empty stadiums, though tests are under way with matches in front of a limited number of fans. That could all be rolled back soon, according to the chancellor, along with private parties, pubs and religious services.

Many German federal states are imposing local restrictions to fight regional lockdowns after super-spreader events: parties, weddings and other private gatherings.

Dr Merkel will hold a video conference on Tuesday with German regional governments, who are largely responsible for Covid-19 public health.

During Monday’s CDU parliamentary party meeting, Dr Merkel reportedly said she was particularly worried about the infection rate in Berlin, the city-state capital. Infection rates in Berlin’s central Mitte neighbourhood have crashed through the ceiling – 50 per 100,000 of population – requiring a local lockdown.

“Something has to happen in Berlin,” said Dr Merkel.

Related news

US election: Trump targets Pennsylvania as race enters final stretch.

President tries to narrow polling gap with Democratic rival for White House Joe Biden

US election: ‘Donald Trump needs to go. White America got what they want’

After a troubled summer in Louisville, Kentucky, black voter turnout will be revealing

US election: Pence to continue campaigning, after staff positive for Covid-19.

Vice-president going to events across US despite chief of staff catching coronavirus

Australia demands answers after women taken from Qatar Airways flight and strip-searched.

Treatment of women after newborn found abandoned at Doha airport ‘offensive’, ‘grossly inappropriate’

Europe’s Jewish population falls 60% in last 50 years, study shows.

France, UK and Germany home for two-thirds of Europe’s 1.3 million Jews, report finds

Covid-19: UK considers shorter self-isolation period due to flouting of rule.

Ministers believe cutting of 14-day requirement may have public health benefit

Lincoln Project rejects threat over Kushner and Ivanka billboards.

‘Sue if you must,’ says lawyer for former Republican consultants who made ads

Belarusian opposition calls for national strike to oust Lukashenko.

More than 100,000 protesters march in ‘people’s ultimatum’ to veteran autocrat

Coney Barrett likely to be voted to US supreme court on Monday.

Appointment of a supreme court judge so close to presidential election unprecedented

Maureen Dowd: Biden the anti-venom for Trump’s poisonous menace.

A lot of voters seem relieved to step back in time with a sentimental old-school Irish pol

1 13

By continuing to browse World News (UAZMI), you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and agree to the use of cookies