„CORONA“ IN AUSTRIA AND AUSTRIAN DENTISTRY
In the first days of March 2020, the danger of the Covid-19 Virus became evident in Austria. The Austrian Society of Orthodontics was scheduled to have their annual meeting in the second week of March, however, two days into the five-day programme they decided to terminate this prematurely. This was the first moment that I realized that there was something really wrong.
On 15th of March, the Austrian government decided to close all schools, universities, theatres, cinemas, concert halls, opera’s, restaurants and shops (except for pharmacies, supermarkets, gas stations ….)
On Monday 16thof March, I closed my practice. I had only an emergency mobile phone at home in case a patient needs urgent help. Fortunately, nobody required an emergency help for the next 2 weeks. I decided to call every patient personally, who had an appointment during the period. After this 2-week period I stocked up on ‘FFP 3 masks’ for myself and other safety requirements and then started slowly to finish those patients we had treated prior to closing, but where we were not able to finish them. Since then, we treat every patient with FFP 3 masks, face shields, and all the usual equipment we used prior to „Corona“ for surgical treatments. We don’t use highspeed and ultrasonic devices. Since returning to work, I only permit two patients in my practice at the same time; one on my dental chair and the other in the waiting room. We sterilize everything we used during the treatment of the patient and have a special protocol for disinfecting in the entire office.
Now…back to the situation in Austria these past few days. Last week the government relaxed the lock down measures a little. Smaller shops were able to open their doors and parks in the cities were also opened to the public again. Furthermore, all shops will be open to the public on 1st of May and the restaurants will follow two weeks later (with special rules/regulation). In May, the schools will open step by step. In May, I will also ramp-up my office as well, because more and more patients require help. I will also start with periodontal treatment, especially for prophylaxis (but in the old fashion way with scalers and currets).
In Austria all large cultural and sport events and scientific congresses have been cancelled at least until the end of June; the Government has the right to extend the cancellations until autumn, if this is deemed necessary.
I am personally involved in the annual meeting of the Austrian Society of Periodontology, which was planned for the 3rd weekend of June. The board decided to postpone it to the beginning of December. In addition, I am involved in the organisation of the annual meeting of the Austrian Society of Dentistry (ÖGZMK) ,the biggest local congress in Austria every year! It is planned for end of September. Currently, the board of the ÖGZMK is tasked with the difficult decision to cancel or not.
Unfortunately, I also had to cancel our local ICD meeting scheduled for 17th of April at my home in Vienna.
Nobody knows what will happen in the next few weeks, months, or perhaps even the coming 12-months. One of the most important things for me is, that the entire ICD community in Europe and worldwide stays healthy including all of our families and friends.