VIENNA — Austria’s leader says his country plans to start mass testing for the coronavirus next month in hopes of avoiding further lockdowns.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Wednesday that Austria’s westernmost provinces, Vorarlberg and Tyrol, will start carrying out mass tests on the first weekend in December, beginning with groups such as teachers and police officers who have particularly frequent contact with other people. The government is discussing dates with other provinces.
Austria’s current lockdown is due to run until Dec. 6. Kurz said that “we should take every opportunity that offers itself to avoid further lockdowns or at least to shorten them.”
Italy’s South Tyrol province, which borders Austria, already has conducted mass tests — following the example of Slovakia, which moved to slow infections and avoid a second lockdown by testing nearly two-thirds of its people in one weekend this month.
Kurz said that, even though a vaccine should be available in January, “that doesn’t mean everything will be solved in January.” He said that “we still have some hard months ahead of us.”