Home test kits for COVID-19 are helping many countries detect infections while reducing long lines outside testing centers, but over-the-counter testing has not been incorporated in the Republic of Cyprus where officials remain reluctant over trusting private citizens with the results.
The Cypriot health ministry has been announcing increases in the numbers of rapid test centers this week, following complaints from citizens who had to stand in long lines in hot weather to get tested in order to obtain a CoronaPass.
Officials said they were instituting a shift-based schedule for staff at government-sponsored rapid test locations, where citizens can test for COVID free of charge, in order to better serve the public amid post-lockdown measures.
Last weekend and early this week photos posted on social media showed large crowds standing in line to get tested in government-operated locations in order to obtain immunity proof valid for 72 hours, one of two prerequisites for unvaccinated people who wish to visit certain places where a CoronaPass also known as a safe pass is required.
A paid option for rapid tests at local pharmacies is expected to help reduce long lines, but customers still won’t be able to take a self kit to get tested in the comfort of their home
A paid option for rapid tests at local pharmacies is expected to help reduce long lines, but customers still won’t be able to take a self kit to get tested in the comfort of their home.
Cyprus Pharmaceutical Association president Piera Eleni Isseyiek told state radio on Wednesday morning that home kits were not appropriate "for a state that wants to monitor the situation effectively."
Isseyiek said an increasing number of local pharmacies were signing up with the health ministry for approval to sell and conduct rapid tests, in an effort to help reduce the burden of collecting a large volume of specimen samples on the frontlines.
"Local pharmacies are finally recognized as accessible alternatives," Isseyiek said, adding that rapid tests would take place at approved pharmacies which would notify test takers to self-isolate if they tested positive while also alerting the health ministry for further action, such as close-contact tracing.
Isseyiek went on to say that many citizens testing positive to the coronavirus are not always forthcoming with information about their contacts, saying a more methodical operation was needed to ensure confirmed cases are handled properly.
There are different kinds of home test kits for COVID in the market, with some requiring users to physically mail their sample to a lab while others can be completed without a laboratory.
According to local media, the government in the Republic of Cyprus has approved access to home test kits for COVID-19. But while the sale is not illegal, this method cannot help in obtaining a CoronaPass in accordance with health ministry policies.
Health experts say the fastest way to slow the spread of the coronavirus, short of overhauling a country’s testing framework, would be to get over-the-counter tests in the hands and homes of everyday citizens.
But the accuracy of self tests may vary between brands and testing methods, as large amounts of virus may be required to be present to generate a positive result in some tests.