The German government will provide free rapid antigen tests to all citizens starting March.
“Starting March 1, all citizens of the country will be able to be tested free of charge by trained personnel,” said Health Minister Jens Spans via his Twitter account, Tuesday (16/2).
Quoting AFP, based on the daily report of Bild, the vaccinators will be in pharmacies, doctors ‘and dentists’ offices, and the Covid-19 test center.
Unlike the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test which has to be analyzed in the laboratory, the antigen test can be done using a saliva sample with results given immediately within 30 minutes.
This is thought to make testing easier for some people. Although, this antigen test cannot be used as a mainstay in detecting Covid-19 in people who are asymptomatic.
According to Sphan, Germany also plans to launch a standalone antigen test after it is approved by the national drug regulatory agency BfArM.
According to media reports, Germany will charge one euro ($ 1.20) each for the self-test at home.
Self-administered tests in particular could play an important role, as Germany is eyeing reopening of schools and several other facilities after more than three months of closure.
Restaurants, bars, hotels, cultural centers and recreation centers were closed in November, followed by schools and non-essential shops in December. Since then, new Covid-19 cases have dropped dramatically.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government agreed last week to continue the partial lockdown until at least March 7. However, he finally left the decision regarding the opening of the school to the respective states.
Starting Monday, schools in Saxony are reopening to some students. Most other states plan to follow in Germany’s lead by opening schools on February 22.
But concerns about a variant of the virus deemed more contagious remained high and led Germany to place the Czech border region as well as Austrian Tyrol on the red list of high-risk zones, which includes Britain and South Africa.
According to Der Spiegel’s weekly report, a ban on most trips from this risk zone will be in effect until the end of February.
To date, Germany has recorded 3,856 new cases of Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours and 528 deaths.