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Austria Center Vienna to trial 15-minute test for large-scale events with help of 3,000 students

Three thousand students from the Vienna University of Economics and Business will be tested for coronavirus as part of a pilot project to see if rapid testing at the Austria Center Vienna is possible.

The idea is to take a swab just before an event starts and get the results back within 15 minutes. Researchers say that if the testing proves successful it will be a venue first.

Students beginning their academic year at the University will be tested using a new antigen rapid testing technique and the insights gained would then be put to work for the benefit of the whole event industry, an industry hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the past few months at the Austria Center Vienna alone, around 50 events have either been postponed or cancelled. The direct impacts on Vienna as a congress destination have been catastrophic, as in a normal year the international events held at the Austria Center Vienna have an induced economic impact of between €400m and €500m.

“Through the rapid test pilot project we want to do our bit to ensure that events which meet the highest possible safety standards can be held in Vienna in future. We are very grateful to the students of the Vienna University of Economics and Business for their support in this venture,” said venue MD Susanne Baumann-Söllner.

The test results are promised wiithn 15 minutes, with no lab analysis required. Austrian pharmaceutical products wholesaler Alpstar brought the NADAL® Covid-19 Ag Rapid Test from German manufacturer nal von minden to the Austrian market.

It is hoped also that the project will deliver practical insights into important issues such as basic organisational matters, the amount of participants’ time it takes and the costs for rapid tests at large-scale events. “At present, we can see that the industry is tentatively getting back on its feet, albeit at a highly regional level. So that large-scale international events can return to Vienna in the medium term, organisers need to have a high level of trust in the measures that have been put in place. No hygiene plan or testing procedure can provide full protection from Covid-19. But we all firmly believe that rapid tests represent a major step in the right direction and could quickly go on to become the new standard. We want this pilot project to show the industry what new options are available and provide targeted support for organisers,” Baumann-Söllner concluded.

The Austria Center Vienna is Austria’s largest conference centre, with 24 halls, 180 meeting rooms, and some 26,000sqm of exhibition space.