A week after the new covid-19 testing strategy came into force, which extended the screening to all infected contacts and a range of sectors, the number of tests done in Portugal has dropped to less than half compared to the peak of pandemic.
According to official data from the Directorate-General for Health, last week, an average of 33,000 tests were carried out per day, whereas at the peak of the pandemic, in January, this average was 70,000 tests. Thus, the week that passed was the week of 2021 when less tests were performed on covid-19.
“Much less. Taking into account what happened until the end of January, when I had 10,200, 10,400 tests per day ”, confirmed to Radio Observador the doctor Germano de Sousa, who leads one of the main groups of laboratories in the country. “Since the beginning of February, the tests have come down and this week, in particular, testing has halved or even less than half. ”
The ex-president of the Ordem dos Médicos, says that it is not due to the lack of capacity of his laboratories and says that he has even warned “who is entitled” that his facilities can do more. “My laboratories, if they were needed, would already be doing 12, 13 thousand tests per day and, if necessary, with effort, in eight days we would change to 15 thousand, giving results in 24 hours.”
The new testing rule, which came into force on February 15, extended the realization of tests to covid-19 to all contacts of an infected, including low risk ones. At the same time, screening in schools, prisons, factories or in civil construction in the most risky municipalities was extended.
Several factors are pointed out to explain the reduction in the number of tests, including the significant decrease in the number of cases due to confinement or the limitation to travel abroad. However, there is also a delay in getting the new DGS standard out of the paper.
One of the sectors where the increase in testing was most expected is that of construction, but representatives of the sector tell Rádio Observador that this has not yet happened. “The direct application of the tests in the light of the standard, I think there will have been no evolution,” said the president of the Association of Construction Companies, Ricardo Gomes.
In the education, the tests started, but in small numbers. “We are aware that these tests are already on the ground, they are tests that are carried out periodically, but to a very small number of employees and teachers,” laments Filinto Lima, the president of the National Association of Public School Directors.
In prisons, the Directorate-General for Reinsertion and Prison Services confirmed to the Observer that regular tests are being carried out, but did not provide figures.
According to Público, there is a guarantee that tomorrow tests will start on low-risk contacts.
The Directorate-General of Health (DGS) to the Public says this after the newspaper found that the SNS24 Line was not yet doing so for the low-risk contacts of an infected person. Until the strategy update these people were not tested, staying only on passive surveillance for 14 days.
The DGS justifies the delay in implementing the new rules by the fact that it has made a new update to another standard, which determines how contacts are tracked and what measures are required to be taken by people who are in contact within 48 hours. before the onset of symptoms with an infected person or, in the case of those without symptoms, up to two days before the date of collection of the sample that came to detect the infection with the new coronavirus.
The Directorate-General for Health ensures that the new algorithms that accompany the new rules and that imply an adaptation of the computer platform that guides the steps of health professionals who serve the SNS24 Line are already validated, which will allow the new guidelines to begin work next Tuesday.
400 pharmacies testing covid-19
There are almost four hundred pharmacies involved in testing covid-19 in Portugal and the number can triple if necessary. In an interview with Antena 1 and Jornal de Negócios, Paulo Cleto Duarte, president of the National Pharmacy Association (ANF), says he still believes that the Government will move forward with a rapid testing line in these establishments.
The sector representative also states that the financial situation of pharmacies has worsened, pointing out that 25% of the chain is in financial distress and that there are more than 40 pharmacies in insolvency proceedings, or subject to recovery plans.
Regarding vaccination against covid-19, the president of the ANF agrees that pharmacies are only required to be part of the chain in the next phase, since, at this time, they are not there are vaccines in quantity that justify the expansion of the network.
Cleto Duarte finally assured that pharmacies do not want to make a profit from this vaccination process, but he calls for the costs to be covered.
Ana Isabel Moura, ZAP //