Greek Deputy Health Minister Vassilis Kontozamanis on Friday said the government would soon launch a Covid-19 self-testing strategy, which is expected to help limit the spread of the virus and lead to the safe restart of certain business activities.
The strategy, which will launch in April, will see pharmacies distributing free Covid-19 test kits to citizens with a social security number (AMKA). All citizens will be entitled to four tests per month (one test per week). Participation in the scheme is voluntary and not mandatory.
Target: Asymptomatic cases
Speaking during the health ministry’s Covid-19 media briefing, the deputy minister said that the self-testing strategy is mainly aimed at detecting asymptomatic Covid-19 cases.
According to Kontozamanis, at the moment around 1 in 3 people have Covid-19 and are not displaying symptoms.
Through the new strategy of self-testing, the government is aiming to identify more positive Covid-19 cases and this way be able to better control the spread of the virus.
The deputy minister underlined that certain business activities in the country can safely resume if citizens take a test once a week.
Mandatory for F&B, tourism workers
Kontozamanis highlighted that although self-testing for Covid-19 will be optional for citizens, it will be mandatory once a week for employees active in certain sectors of the economy including tourism, F&B, coastal shipping, shipping and retail. The government also intends to legislate mandatory testing for teachers and students.
Further details on how exactly the mandatory testing will be carried out has not been released at this time.
The deputy minister added that the self-testing strategy will be carried out in addition to other actions already in place such as rapid mass testing of citizens in neighborhoods.
As explained during the briefing, the tests will be easy to use and will basically need self-collected nasal or saliva samples to detect if a person has the coronavirus.
In the case that someone tests positive, a rapid test must then be taken at a public health facility to confirm the initial result.
The government will launch an online platform – selftesting.gov.gr – so positive self-testing results can be documented.
To avoid crowding at pharmacies during the first days of distribution, priority will be given to people up to 67 years of age who are active in the labor market.
Greek infectious diseases expert Gkikas Magiorkinis highlighted that such tests do not create a false sense of security but will help people easily check if they are infected with the coronavirus.
“The test is reliable and easy to use and instructions for the process will be given through a three-minute video,” he said, adding that home testing once a week “can significantly help combat the pandemic”.