The Greek government is promoting a new, nationwide programme with free COVID tests, to detect the COVID-19 virus and prevent its spread throughout Greek businesses.
According to a recent announcement by the Minister for Labor and Social Affairs, Kostis Hatzidakis, a new digital platform is expected to be launched very soon, via which employees will be able to login and sign up to take the free COVID tests.
The new platform will be at ergasiatesting.gov.gr and will allow employers of big and small Greek business to register the human resources of their companies, so that their employees – if they wish – can request a free examination.
Those interested will be able to take the free COVID test up to twice a month.
Rapid antigen tests, which have been widely used in Greece since last summer, will be employed for this new programme.
Over the past 6 months, a large number of COVID tests have reportedly been carried out in the country, including rapid and molecular PCRs, similar to many other EU countries.
In fact, during the last week, more than 50,000 tests were performed per day, showing increasing preference from those people who want to get tested.
According to the latest research by the British scientific journal NATURE, although of lower analytical sensitivity than PCRs, rapid tests can significantly help prevent the spread of the virus when conducted at regular intervals.
Evi Lianidou, Professor at the Department of Chemistry of the National Kapodistrian University of Athens, summarized the findings of NATURE’s research in a recent statement.
Professor Lianidou explained that such regular testing will allow authorities to track COVID patients much more easily, even those who are asymptomatic.
“These covid tests, if positive, give information about the possibility of transmission of the virus by the individual. But on the other hand, if they are negative, they do not give us with 100% certainty the information that this particular person does not have the virus.”
Rapid antigen tests have been widely used across the world, especially amongst travellers, but according to NATURE’s research the problem with the accuracy of these tests is mainly focused on samples with low viral load.
For example, this month, the University of Birmingham examined 7,000 asymptomatic students with rapid tests, and only 2 were found positive, while when 10% of the negative samples were tested by PCR tests, an additional 6 positive samples were found.
This means in real terms that across all samples, rapid test gave 60 false negative results.
Moreover, scientists point out that the reliability of these tests is greatly reduced if they are not performed by specialists.
Nevertheless, the use of these tests can be useful in cases where it is not possible to perform large-scale molecular testing.
“Different types of tests have different roles,” Lianidou said.
“Rapid antigens cannot replace PCRs in assessing the spread of the virus, but can help prevent the spread of the disease, and can make a significant contribution to maintaining an open economy,” she added.
“Their frequent use at airports, borders, workplaces and schools is advantageous because they are fast and of low cost,” Lianidou concluded.
It is reminded that similar platforms for free COVID tests exist also for teachers and for the general public of Greece.
Find out more at https://government.gov.gr/