Fast coronavirus tests which don’t require medical supervision could be available in supermarkets and pharmacies by next month, health minister Hugo de Jonge said on Friday.
Fast tests, which people can take themselves, could be used by employers, and at schools and universities to making working conditions safer, De Jonge is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS.
Currently fast tests can only be used under medical supervision but that clause should be removed from contracts, the minister said. This would enable manufacturers to apply to have their test authorities for self-testing.
Testing is key to stamping out the virus and making tests simpler and easier to access has a key role in this, De Jonge said. ‘We can do this by taking the tests to the people, rather than people to the test,’ De Jonge said. ‘That is why we want to make it possible for manufacturers to make a self-test version of their fast tests.’
Trouw reported on Friday morning that millions of fast coronavirus tests remain unused in warehouses because the government wants to take a ‘careful’ approach to using them. The government has at least 26 million fast tests in stock but they won’t be used for months until the results of pilot projects have been assessed, the paper said.
Meanwhile, the public health institute RIVM recorded 4,727 new cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours to Friday morning. That is up around 250 on the average over the past seven days.
Ministers are meeting this weekend to assess if the current lockdown rules can be relaxed a little further, but there are few signs that any change is on the cards.
The curfew and other measures are due to expire on March 15, but a further extension is extremely likely, insiders say. ‘If I look at the the figures, I am not hopeful,’ prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters on Friday.
The RIVM estimates that the curfew and the visitor number restrictions, have cut the spread of the virus by around 10%.
Rutte and De Jonge are due to hold a press conference on Monday evening to outline the latest situation.
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