ATHENS – As Greek high schools reopened – for seniors – in a move that relied on students, teachers and staff being required to take self-tests for COVID-19, their use will be offered to retail, transport and food delivery workers.
Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that could be done as soon as the end of this week after the students returned to class on April 12, after self-tests showed a miniscule number tested positive, media reports said.
But he said that at-home coronavirus tests were not a substitute for the molecular and rapid diagnostic tests conducted by health officials.
“They are however an additional tool at our disposal… so we can contain the spread of the virus,” he said, reported Kathimerini. They are available weekly through pharmacies, each resident being allowed one each time.
He said more firms would be bidding to deliver some 10 million more kits and that the competition is expected to bring a lower price after the first round of distributing them although it wasn’t said how the government could enforce people being required to report they test positive if no one’s monitoring them.
"One day of optimism, the children return to school with increased protection measures," Education Minister Niki Kerameus said on Monday during her visit to a lyceum, adding that "the self test is an important tool, which is launched now" and contributes to the "cultivation of individual responsibility in children".
"We will be here to monitor step by step each stage of the process and to make corrections where necessary" the minister said.
Kerameus pointed out that the educational process continued thanks to the "huge effort of pupils and their families, teachers, education staff, in cooperation with the ministries of health and digital governance and pharmacies for the distribution of self tests."
Greece’s center-right government is keen to start reopening the economy and its crucial tourism industry after lockdown measures were imposed in early November. But the rate of infections and death has remained high since early February, with mortality currently above the European Union average.
Self-test kits are being made available on a weekly basis at no charge to all residents registered with the public health service, with the use to be made mandatory for workers in various sectors including food delivery and retail.
The government plans to officially launch the tourism season in mid-May. With less than 7% of the population fully vaccinated, the government has promised to ramp up its campaign through the rest of April.