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Greek Pharmacists Refuse to Give Customers COVID-19 Self Tests

ATHENS – A rushed program to hand out free weekly COVID-19 self testing kits won’t include pharmacists administering them as well after they said they won’t give them, citing health grounds.

The plan comes during a lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the Coronavirus and bans public gatherings but could see queues lining up outside drug stores to get the kits and some anxious about doing it themselves having it done by pharmacists, for a small fee.

The Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Association (PFS) opposed its members giving the tests as they could otherwise be exposed to possibly hundreds of people or more weekly up close instead of handing out the kits from a safe social distance behind barriers.

Akis Skertsos, Deputy Minister to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accepted the request from PFS president Apostolos Valtas which means many people who otherwise felt uncomfortable doing their own test might not now.

The PFS had issued a statement saying that it was categorically opposed on health risk grounds to the notion that pharmacies will perform self-tests for the coronavirus.

The statement said the pharmacies will pass out the free test kits weekly to customers “provided that the smooth operation of our pharmacies is secured so as to avoid health risks for our citizens and staff.”

But it stressed that “self-tests should not be performed in pharmacies, due to epidemiological issues that arise as well as risks to public health. “As pharmacists, we are obliged to safeguard the health of patients who visit pharmacies,” it said.

People who test positive are supposed to report the results but it wasn’t said how accurate the tests are although they're supposed to include instructions that make them easier to administer than at government health sites.

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