Self-tests are not an alternative for more accurate PCR, health experts say


Dutch pharmacies have sold at least 200,000 coronavirus self-tests at some €8 each since they became available for over-the-counter sale.

‘Some people are buying four or five, for the whole family,’ Aris Prins, chairman of the pharmacists association KNMP told the AD on Monday.

Despite their popularity, experts are concerned that people may start using self-tests as an alternative to the PCR test used in official testing centres.

‘A negative result with the self-test is 85% reliable,’ Prins told the paper. ‘That means out of every 100 people using the test, 15 could be positive. So it is important to keep following the basic hygiene rules.

Ministers and the public health institute RIVM want to use self-testing as a way of identifying people who are infected but have no symptoms, to boost safety in schools, colleges and places of work.

People who have symptoms, such as a cough or loss of sense of smell, should continue to make an appointment with their local health board testing centre, as should people who have returned from a high risk area or been in close contact with someone who is infected, the RIVM says.

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