Policy responses for Austria - HSRM


Policy responses for Austria

3.3 Maintaining essential services

With a reduced increase in COVID 19 infection rates, the stringent protection and hygiene measures for long-term care homes have been slightly released from May 4 onwards. Single visitors can make appointments, a mouth-nose protection is obligatory. The care home user and the visitor preferably should meet in a special visiting area outside the care home itself. Care homes are entitled to set their own regulations for visitors. Generally, children up to the age of 6 years are not allowed to visit. Specific regulation may apply for people receiving end-of-life or palliative care. In addition, and accompanying these measures, systematic testing is being carried out in long-term care and old-age homes, and strict monitoring of COVID 19 cases.

From 9 June onwards all visitors (including children) are allowed to enter care homes for older people, while maintaining distance and hygiene regulations. Also, residents may be visited in their own rooms again. New numbers dating from 8 June 2020 indicate that in total 222 persons died in care homes during the COVID-19 crisis in Austria, which amounts to about one third of all deaths due to COVID-19 (in total 645 deaths until 8 June). In total 833 people in 65 different care homes had been infected (out of more than 900 care homes in total) since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Since 12 March, hospitals have been called upon to postpone all non-acutely necessary operations and examinations in order to free up capacity for corona patients (see Section 3.1). From end of April onwards, operations are to be planned step by step again, and hospitals can also begin to admit non-acute patients. Certain capacities remain reserved for COVID-19 patients. Accompanying measures such as increased testing and wearing of masks are obligatory. The re-opening process differs between the federal states. In Vienna there are concrete plans from mid-April onwards that include cooperation with private hospitals. For the time being, only planned operations are carried out while outpatient clinics remain closed.

On April 15, the Austrian Medical Chamber issued comprehensive recommendations on measures for medical practices in ambulatory care in the COVID-19 pandemic. Routine, control, preventive and aftercare examinations and vaccinations can be carried out again. Special precautions must be taken, such as making appointments by telephone, keeping distance, special hygiene measures and protective equipment. Patients and all staff members have to wear masks.

Further information for Vienna: http://www.wienkav.at/kav/gd/ZeigeAktuell.asp?ID=26843