COVID-19: CTBTO staff work remotely, core mission maintained

16 March 2020, Vienna, Austria

Staff of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) are working remotely to protect health and help curb the spread of COVID-19, while maintaining all core functions to ensure no nuclear explosion goes undetected.

The Vienna International Centre (VIC), which houses the CTBTO and other UN system bodies in Vienna, is closed until 3 April to all but a skeleton staff covering technical and other essential functions that cannot be handled remotely.

In a joint statement on 15 March, the four main Vienna-based organizations – the CTBTO, the United Nations Office at Vienna/UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN Industrial Development Organization – said they were also requiring staff in Austria to follow the government’s urgent appeal to stay in their homes and avoid social contact for at least the rest of this week.

“Management of the four main Vienna-based organizations (VBOs) continue to take measures to reduce still further the presence of personnel in the VIC to the lowest achievable number possible and, in so doing, to reduce the risk of virus transmission,” the statement adds.

The VIC had already been closed to external visitors on 11 March, based on measures taken by the Austrian authorities and advice from the VIC Medical Service. The situation beyond 3 April will be reviewed in light of the fast evolving situation and the recommendations of the Austrian authorities.

 “These measures are taken on clear medical advice and with the welfare of staff and their families as the central priority,” the heads of the four main VBOs said last week in a joint message to staff. “As part of the community of our Host Country, Austria, we can all play our part in helping to try to contain the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the risk of transmission at the VIC and elsewhere.”