'No wonder we don't hear about other countries': James O'Brien on Austria's Covid policy

29 June 2021, 14:13

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien responds to a caller who reveals how Austria are coping with Covid in schools, as the UK sees record-high rates of absences.

One in 20 state school pupils did not attend class on June 24 for a Covid-related reason, new figures show, with absences at their highest rates since schools reopened in March.

It comes as the Government pledged to see if it can scrap quarantine requirements for schoolchildren by introducing daily testing in England. Existing rules mean large groups of students can end up being sent home if one pupil in their bubble tests positive.

A total of 279,000 children are self-isolating due to a possible contact with a Covid-19 case, 24,000 pupils have a suspected case of coronavirus and 15,000 have a confirmed case of coronavirus.

Suzanne called from Innsbruck, Austria to tell James what happened when her daughter in a boarding school came into contact with a fellow classmate who tested positive.

"The class got put into quarantine, we had to take her down to get a PCR test. She had to have three PCR tests before she would have been allowed back to school," Suzanne said, pointing out that these tests are all free.

"The first one came back negative, the second one came back positive which then meant that my partner, because he was the one that had taken her for the test, he was then put into quarantine.

"My son and I hadn't come into contact so we were all OK, but we were still all offered PCR tests. The three of us went down and got one."

Suzanne told James that due to the high cycle thresholds in her daughter's PCR test, which in some clinical scenarios mean the patient is still infectious, a mobile testing unit came to the family home.

"Both my partner and my daughter got retested with PCR tests. On the Friday morning they got given the all clear because they'd both come back with negative tests on both those days and they were out of quarantine."

Instead of her partner and daughter having to self-isolate for ten days, they were only in quarantine for five days.

James reflected, "It sounds like the authorities are doing everything they can to get people back in to school."

"And within that time the police came round to check twice that they were both still here," Suzanne said.

"This is why we're not hearing about what's going on in other countries," quipped James.

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