Passengers disembark a train upon the arrival of a group of Romanian carers from Timisoara on Monday in Vienna, Austria. AFP
With a photo of her two children, who remain in Romania, in her bags, the 42-year-old left Timisoara in west Romania on Sunday.
Her motivation is "of course the salary, which is five times higher than what I could make in Romania," she said.
Weisz will spend four weeks to care for an elderly diabetic patient in Austria's western province of Tyrol.
Some 65,000 caretakers — 80 per cent of them Romanian and Slovakian women — normally work in Austria, where some 33,000 people need 24-hour home care. Many of those in need were left struggling when borders suddenly closed in mid-March as countries sought to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
After Vienna's urging, Romania approved the launch of the night train between Timisoara and the Austrian capital, some 500 kilometres apart.
Romania, which has reported more than 15,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 1,000 deaths to date, will only start easing its lockdown from this Friday.
A woman is helped by conductor while boarding a train at a railway station in Timisoara city. AFP
After undergoing a temperature check before embarking, the 100-odd caretakers, almost all women, also have to take a coronavirus screening test once they reach Vienna. They can only meet the people they will work with after a negative result.
After Sunday's debut, five more trains, operated by the Austrian railways OeBB and their Romanian counterparts CFR, are planned until the end of the month.
Eager to return to work
In addition to the salaries as a pull factor, some caretakers also have become close to those they help.
"It's as if we are going to meet our family again," said Frusina Samuila, 62, adding during the past two months she had several phone calls with the elderly woman she has been taking care of for three years.
Ion, 56, one of the few men among the group, said he was anxious to meet the sexagenarian, multiple sclerosis sufferer whose pain he tries to ease -- and earn money again.
"They call me Johann there. All the locals know me," the former plumber said proudly, adding he nonetheless would prefer finding a job in Romania.
"I was close to finishing all my savings. How is one able to support himself in this country? And here no one wants to hire someone my age." But working conditions are tough.
Romanian media have also reported that families in Austria "exploited" several caregivers, who had difficulties leaving after the borders closed.
Besides that, many workers, who normally spent a month in Austria and then one at home before returning again, miss their own families and feel guilty for leaving their own children or elderly parents alone.
"I couldn't work for more than a month in a row," Weisz said.
Students of New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state, and the northern state of Queensland began going back to school on a limited basis to lessen the risk of spreading the illness, state leaders said.
A total of 75,538 deaths have been recorded, including 53,928 in Europe, the continent worst hit by the virus. The official tallies probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of cases. Many countries are testing only the most serious cases.
Alphabet’s Google published reports for 131 countries showing whether visits to shops, parks and workplaces dropped in March, when many governments issued stay-at-home orders to rein in the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
More than 242,000 people have been killed and 3.4 million infected worldwide by the virus, which has left half of humanity under some form of lockdown and pushed the global economy towards its worst downturn since the Great Depression.
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