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Austria: Vienna Airport offers COVID-19 tests to passengers

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Passengers touching down in Vienna’s international airport are now given the choice between going directly for home quarantine for 14 days or paying 190 euros for a molecular-biological COVID-19 testing (PCR test) on-site, with results available in only three hours.

“I was told to stay in home quarantine for two weeks, to go immediately from here to my home. But I won’t do that. […] I will get myself tested. After that, I will go home. And supposedly I will get the result within three hours. If it is negative, my quarantine is over after those three hours,” said Andreas Kempf returning from Thailand on Tuesday.

Others said they won’t pay for the tests as they do not mind staying at home for two weeks, while some were more than happy to pay the generous fee as they could not find a local doctor for the test.

Molecular Geneticist Susanne Haas, working at the airport testing site, said the tests are about proofing the viral sequence, which can be detected with PCR technology within two, three days of contracting the virus once it starts multiplying in the throat.

“Right now this is the only possibility to get a certified proof with stamp and an official character. So for me, it is worth it,” said Laboratory technician Michael Szostak, adding that his laboratory offers normal PCR tests for 30 euros.

The throat-based PCR tests are analysed on-site and then they are mailed to those tested within three hours. Upon its launch on May 4, 70 people took up on the offer to be tested.

There have been 15,650 reported coronavirus cases in Austria, with 606 people dying with the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as of Tuesday.

SOT, Andreas Kempf, Traveller returning from Thailand (German): “I was told to stay in home quarantine for two weeks, to go immediately from here to my home. But I won’t do that. I am now going to the end of the building here, there is a place where you can be tested for a lot of money. I will get myself tested. After that I will go home. And supposedly I will get the result within three hours. If it is negative, my quarantine is over after those three hours.”

SOT, Susanne Haas, Molecular Geneticist (German): “It’s about proofing the viral sequences of the corona virus Sars-Cov2, directly trough the sequence of the virus. As soon as you have the virus in your throat and it is replicating – starting at day two or day three – and with the PCR technology we can detect it.”

SOT, Peter Kleemann, Vienna Airport spokesperson (German): “The passengers are getting their results within two or three hours. If they result negative they don’t need to quarantine for two weeks.”

SOT, Herwig Wurdak, Passenger arriving from Frankfurt (German): “This is a good offer, surely useful for many people. Not for me as I like to stay at home now for 14 days. I have enough work to be done.”

SOT, Michael Szostak, Traveller and Laboratory technician (German): “I am working at a PCR laboratory too, we could offer this for 30 Euro, a normal PCR test. But right now this is the only possibility to get a certified proof with stamp and an official character. So for me it is worth it.”

 Video ID: 20200505-028

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