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Politics

Peloni: Tender Process for Self-Tests Fully Transparent, 31 Bids Submitted

ATHENS — Thirty-one firms have submitted bids for the coronavirus self-tests that will be offered free of charge and the file was on Monday sent to the Court of Audit for a precontractual inspection so that the process can continue with transparency and an assurance of legality, government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni said on ANT1 television.

She also pointed out that 31 bids are clearly not a "fixed" competition, in response to criticism from main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, while she urged the party to adopt a clear position on home self testing and "this new tool offered by science".

Peloni said the tests are designed so that anyone can do them at home, adding that the same strategy has been adopted by Germany, Switzerland and Austria, though they did not offer the test for free on a large scale.

"We are the first country in Europe that will do this and we are now fighting a battle against time… The test is free for everyone with an AMKA number and every citizen will have the right to one test a week. It is a complementary tool to those that we already have, the pillars of our strategy," she said, noting that it was not practically possible to carry out PCR tests on the entire population at this time, as the opposition was suggesting.

"There are not enough labs…The self tests meet all European standards and are being added to our strategy," she added.

On the easing of restrictions on economic and social activities, Peloni said the committee of health experts will examine the government's strategy, with the new addition of self-tests. Retail trade and physical attendance of school, especially lyceums and gymnasiums, are the priority," she said but emphasised that there will still be rules and restrictions.

"The aim is to go to adjustments and a better observance of the measures, and obviously to give some respite to society and the economy with controlled activities and the transfer of as many activities as possible to outdoor areas," she said.

Better weather and longer days will be allies in this effort, she noted, and this must be taken into account to allow movement between municipalities, while adding that it was too early to consider movements between prefectures.

Also in the government's plans is the reopening of the hospitality sector, such as bars and restaurants, at a later stage, possibly after mid-April.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are not where we were last year. Every week that passes at least another 200,000 vaccinations are added and a wall of immunity is gradually being built that will allow us, especially after May, to lift the restrictions," she said.

On the state of the national health system, she said it was encouraging that the number of admissions had dropped in recent days, with the high number of those on ventilators reflecting the state of the pandemic in previous weeks.

She also noted progress in the vaccine rollout, saying that 1.5 million vaccinations will be given in April and rates will continue to increase, with additional vaccination centres added to the existing 1,078 vaccination lines. "In any case, at the start of May, all our citizens over 60 and vulnerable groups at higher risk will have been vaccinated with at least one dose," she said.

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