Many Portuguese are scheduling tests with Covid-19 for the days before Christmas to be able to reunite with the family, according to Unilabs Portugal, which only on December 22 has 1,500 appointments.
“Since the communication [on December 5th] of the Prime Minister regarding how Christmas will be, namely from Monday and Tuesday, we have had a very large increase in testing requests, namely PCR tests and also antigen tests, for the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of December, ”the president of the clinical diagnosis network told Lusa.
For Luís Menezes, this situation demonstrates that “people see testing as a way to create an additional safeguard”, in addition to the measures indicated by the Government.
The director-general of Health, Graça Freitas, called, in a recent press conference on covid-19, that the population does not take tests on their own initiative, and should wait for a request or for medical advice.
A position supported by Luís Menezes, affirming that the diagnostic centers “are available to support public authorities and individuals individually in this request, but it is necessary to remember that everything that is being said by public health authorities must be taken into account. in count”.
“Testing can be seen as another safeguard”, but the Christmas dinner should be held with a small number of people, with physical distance and with the use of masks whenever possible.
Luís Menezes said that this situation was not surprising because there were already some questions in this regard, but he said that it was “nothing normal” for people to schedule tests two weeks in advance and ask if they have the results until December 22 or 24.
Detection tests for covid-19 (PCR) are the most sought after, do not require a medical prescription, unlike rapid tests, which are “clearly contraindicated” because they have very low sensitivity for asymptomatic individuals, he said, stressing that “it is It is important for people to be aware that the test is not an absolute certainty that they are negative ”.
The president of the National Association of Public Health Doctors, Ricardo Mexia, told Lusa that “it is important that people realize that the various measures and precautions they can take in order to prevent the spread of the disease are complementary” and considered “a interesting strategy ”the use of tests to identify people who may be infected but are asymptomatic.
“It is a measure that seems interesting to me and that can also help to reduce the risk of an exposure that is expected to happen during the festivities”, said Ricardo Mexia, noting that the test “is not to allow to reduce the other measures” that contribute to the reduction of risk, but to complement them.
He pointed out the cost of carrying out tests as a condition and said that eventually there may be a supply problem, questioning “to what extent will there be capacity for so many people to be able to take the test in a very short period of time”.
For Ricardo Mexia, this is “one more example” that people are concerned and want to protect themselves and those they like.
The SYNLAB laboratory network has also been recording many RT-PCR test schedules for this period, but associated with travel.
“Customers started contacting very early (since the beginning of December) to make appointments also for December 24th, in order to be able to make their trips on December 26th”, he advanced, without specifying the number of appointments have been made.
The Germano de Sousa laboratories have been contacted by some people asking if they are open around Christmas, but as they are working until the 24th and there is no need to make an appointment, they have not yet seen an increase.
“Probably people who are interested in taking the test will arrive on the 22nd, which is what matters in order to be able to rest,” said pathologist Germano de Sousa, predicting an increase in demand at that time.