Stopp Corona: Everything you need to know about Austria’s contact tracing app

From functionality to its ‘digital handshake’, this is everything you need to know about Austria’s coronavirus tracing app.

Stopp Corona: Everything you need to know about Austria’s contact tracing app
Image: Stopp Corona App

Launched during the peak of the pandemic in late March, ‘Stopp Corona’ – Austria’s coronavirus tracing app – is now preparing to go international. 

The app was one of the first contact tracing apps launched anywhere in Europe. So whether you don’t have the app yet – or if you have it but want to know more – here’s what you need to know. 

What does the app do? 

Like other contact tracing apps, the goal of the Stopp Corona App is to “identify chains of infection and break them”. 

The app tells users when they may have come into contact with someone who is positive with coronavirus, encouraging the recipient to isolate and get tested. 

How does the app work? 

As soon as someone reports a positive test to their app, the app is able to trace every other app user they have come into close contact with for more than 15 minutes. 

These contacts are known as a “digital handshake”, with all contact data recorded.

Anyone who has come into contact with someone will receive a warning – either yellow or red – to notify them that they may be infected. 

What are the yellow and red alert levels? 

The app has two different types of warnings: yellow and red. 

According to the Austrian government: “A yellow alert shows that someone you have been in contact with has developed coronavirus symptoms. The red alert means that someone you have been in close contact with (less than two metres) for longer than 15 minutes has tested positive.”

Will I be forced to isolate when receiving a warning? 

When someone receives a warning, they are told to isolate – but unlike quarantine orders from doctors or the 1450 hotline, this is only a recommendation rather than a mandatory requirement. 

Like most other contact tracing apps which have been deemed to be effective in Europe, the app uses a decentralised information storage system which sees data encrypted before being exchanged. This helps to protect privacy from app developers and other users.  

This also means that the app is compatible with other apps used in EU nations. 

UPDATED: Where are Austria's coronavirus hotspots? 

When will the app be effective internationally?

As a decentralised app, it is compatible with the EU’s ‘Gateway’ system which went live in October. 

Currently the International system has been set up in Germany, Ireland, Spain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Latvia and Italy. 

The EU hopes that 16 countries – including Austria – will be a part of the international framework by Christmas. 

Who developed the app?

The app was developed by the Austrian Red Cross in collaboration with Apple and Google. 

Is the app effective? 

Having the app is of course better than not having it, but whether it is truly effective depends on a variety of things. 

Initially, the app only worked in iPhones when the app was open, severely limiting its functionality. Now, it can work at any time provided bluetooth is activated. 

The rollout of the app was also hampered by an earlier pledge by National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP) to make the app compulsory. 

According to Future Zone, this “caused irreparable damage to the image” of the app in Austria. 

Why have so few people downloaded the app?

A major question relates to how many users the app has in order to be effective. 

As at October 2020, the Stopp Corona App had just crossed one million downloads in a country of almost nine million people. 

While a study from Oxford University from earlier in 2020 reportedly said such apps should be used by 60 percent of the population in order to be effective, the authors of the study say apps with a lower take-up rate can still be effective to some extent. 

“Our models show that we can stop the epidemic if around 60 percent of the population use the app.” 

“(However) Even with a smaller number of app users, we still estimate that the number of coronavirus cases and deaths would decrease with the help of tracing apps.”

In late October, Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober appealed to members of the public to download the app amid a fresh rise in case numbers and a national lockdown. 

“Now is the time to take part. It is not a big effort and helps to protect yourself and others. The app is now recording 1.1 million downloads already, 1,100 'red warnings' have already been passed on, plus 2,100 'yellow warnings’.”

For perspective, Austria recorded more than 5,000 cases per day over the first week of November. 

On what phones and platforms is the app available? 

The app works on smartphones with platforms beginning at Android 6 and iPhones from iOS 13.5.

The app can be downloaded here


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Five things you should know if you need a dentist in Austria

While living in Austria, it is easy to find high-quality dental care - but there's a few key things you should know.

Five things you should know if you need a dentist in Austria

Health insurance covers basic things

All Austrian residents receive a personal E-card, the European Health Insurance Card. This card is all you need to make medical appointments in Austria, including visits to the dentist. Visitors in the country can also access dental care, but it is common for them to pay upfront at the clinic and later submit the receipt to their insurance or travel insurance company to claim the cost back.

In Austria, basic dental treatments are covered by state care and include check-ups, x-ray images, amalgam fillings and orthodontic treatments for children. For most other procedures, you will have to pay. Each region in Austria organizes its own health and dental care offerings. This means that for more extensive treatments and specialized care, it can be necessary to travel to bigger cities such as Vienna or Graz.

It may be important to take into consideration that the advertising regulations of the Austrian Dental Association prohibit dentists from publishing prices for services. This means that you will only know how much a treatment costs after an examination by a dentist. In general, this is because every procedure is different and adapted to each individual.

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English-speaking dentists

Most Austrian dentists speak good English, but it is more likely to find one of them in a city, than in the countryside. To make sure that the dentist you visit speaks good English, or maybe another desired language, it is good to look them up online in advance. Searching online make it easy to find dental clinics or individual dentists in your area.

Many clinics list the languages spoken by their employees. Websites like DocFinder or Herold are commonly used in Austria to find this kind of information.

READ ALSO: The vocab you need for a trip to the dentist in Austria

Private dental care

Private dental care in Austria runs separately from the public healthcare system. Choosing private dental care typically comes with more flexibility and you can receive additional services that are not covered by public insurance.

Private dental care often includes a wider range of services compared to basic public coverage. This can include specialized treatment, cosmetic dental care and a more extensive selection of dental procedures. Private care may also offer other advantages such as treatments with the latest technology, advanced forms of treatments and less waiting times to increase comfort.

The cost of private dental care depends on whether you want coverage outside of Austria as well as inside; together with the extent of treatments you wish to cover. In general, private dental care usually includes higher costs, and patients often need to pay for the services out-of-pocket. The costs vary based on the specific treatment and the dentist’s fees.

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Going to Hungary and Romania are popular alternatives

Hungary is the most popular destination for dental tourists from Austria.

Over the last decades, prices for dental care in Western Europe have increased and thereby created a market for high-quality dental care at an affordable price in other places. Hungary is often a cheaper alternative for some dental procedures, even if you include costs for accommodation and travel. The city of Sopron, just across the border from
Austria, has become a dental centre and many Austrian residents travel there for treatments.


The border town of Sopron in western Hungary lies within a renowned wine region. But the town itself has plenty of history on offer, including dental tourism. Photo: Pexels, Istvan Balogh

Hungarian dental clinics are known for maintain high standard of quality and expertise. The clinics are attracting patients in search of reliable and professional dental services. The country is known for offering a wide range of treatments, including implantology and cosmetic dentistry.

Many patients travel to Hungary for specific procedures or expertise not yet available in their country.

Lately, Romania is also becoming a more popular destination for Austrian dental tourism. It is mainly common for Austrians to travel to Romania for their expertise in implantology at affordable prices. In Romania, an implant costs around €450, while in Austria, an implant typically costs at least €1,500. Teeth whitening is also said to be way less expensive in Romania.

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Emergency dental care

If you have an emergency problem with your teeth, Austria offers emergency dental assistance all over the country. If you need emergency care, check with local dental practices to inquire about their availability for urgent issues.

Bigger cities often offer specific clinics for emergency dental assistance. In Vienna, for example, the Emergency Clinic of the University Clinic of Dentistry is open every day from 8:00 to 13:00, including weekends and holidays.

The clinic has an agreement with all major insurers in Austria and is thereby covered by your Austrian social security insurance. It is important to take into consideration that many students work in this clinic and that the quality of the treatments can wary.

In critical cases, especially if you experience significant swelling or pain, you can contact the emergency medical services (Rettungsdienst) by calling 144. They will provide guidance and transportation to the hospital if needed.

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