Free Covid-19 Take-Home Tests Start March 1

Lifestyle & TravelHealth ♦ Published: February 25, 2021; 16:20 ♦ (Vindobona)

Starting from March 1, another Covid-19 test opportunity will be available for Austrians. Pharmacies will offer five free take-home antigen tests per person per week. In addition to the free tests conducted at more than 900 pharmacies, testing conducted at Austrian businesses, and various testing lanes, the take-home tests will be yet another opportunity of self-assessment.

Austrian pharmacies will offer free take-home Covid-19 tests as of March 1, 2021. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / joho345, Public Domain

Free home self-testing available in pharmacies starting next week Additional offer will be rolled out gradually, creating further testing opportunities in times of pandemic

In addition to the vaccination campaign, the expansion of contact tracing, the introduction of FFP2 masks and the control of mutations, the testing offensive is the protective concept against rising numbers of new infections as a result of the incipient dominance of the significantly more infectious virus variants.

At present, more than 1.5 million free antigen tests per week can already be handled in the more than 400 test lanes alone.

Furthermore, Austrian pharmacies already offer free rapid tests at more than 900 locations.

In addition, since February 15, free testing has been available at Austrian businesses and companies. This offer has created a further opportunity for more than 1 million free tests per week. Currently, 1,100 companies are already participating.

In the medium term, this will create a total offer of up to 3 million free tests per week throughout Austria.

As announced by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Health Minister Rudi Anschober and the Chamber of Pharmacists, an additional low-threshold and free option is now being launched to further strengthen the testing offer.

Already starting from coming week, March 1, 2021, free take-home self tests will be offered.

Up to five free tests will be available per person and month. These can be referred by humans starting from 15 years (cut-off date 1.1.2006) in all pharmacies, which participate in the program. Younger people already have the opportunity to take part in regular free self-tests as part of their school attendance.

Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz:

"In addition to the free tests at school, the nationwide test routes and the in-company tests, the self-tests offer a further opportunity in the fight against Covid-19. I would like to thank all those who get tested regularly. The tests help to keep the infection incidence under control as much as possible and, step by step, to regain more freedom."

The take-home self-tests will be used primarily to give people an opportunity for initial assessment at home. They thus add yet another essential component to the free test offering. The tests can be obtained by means of an e-card or social security number, which serve as proof of identity.

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober commented:

"The free self-tests are another important component in the fight against the pandemic. Especially when we want to see our loved ones and relatives, we thus create an additional opportunity to bring a bit of normality back into our everyday lives during the pandemic. The tests are important, but they do not replace our protective measures such as FFP2 masks, minimum distance and hand hygiene."

Mag. pharm. Dr. Ulrike Mursch-Edlmayr, President of the Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists, added:

"We have proven during the crisis that we can do extraordinary things in these extraordinary times. Many pharmacies have hired additional staff for this purpose and are working a great deal of overtime. We want to help as best we can to overcome the pandemic. For the first week, a total of 3 million individual tests are to be delivered to us by the weekend. We have to prepare the delivered tests in the pharmacies as 5-test packages with explanatory information material so that we can pass them on to the people. Time-wise and organizationally, this will be very challenging. Optimally, we will be able to provide 600,000 people with self-tests in the first week. The distribution of free home tests by pharmacies is a long-term project. The pharmacies will be continuously supplied with new tests. Every citizen can expect to get his or her test kit - little by little."

In order to launch the service as quickly as possible, the self-tests will be rolled out in tranches throughout Austria.

The aim is to create a high-quality offer throughout the country.

Starting next week, 3 million self-tests will be distributed through pharmacies.

By March 15 at the latest, the service will be available throughout Austria.