People who test positive to the coronavirus after a rapid test do not need to follow it up with a molecular PCR test, unless they are unvaccinated and want a certificate they have contracted the virus, Alternate Health Ministry Mina Gaga said on Thursday.
“Because there are many infections right now and it is a hassle, it is best to stay home after a [positive] rapid test,” Gaga noted during the weekly briefing, referring to long waiting lines for rapid tests.
She noted that the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant is sweeping through Greece, and all control tests for the virus show that over 60% of recent cases are of this variant. She reiterated that wearing masks will help contain it as well as avoiding people would be if there are any symptoms.
“Only those who are unvaccinated and have contracted the virus for the first time and wish to get an illness certificate must confirm the positive rapid test with a PCR, which would be meaningless for fully vaccinated people,” Children Infectious Diseases professor and health committee member Vana Papaevangelou explained. Papaevangelou also said that whoever exhibits the clinical symptoms of a common cold should stay home.
She added that the common symptoms of Omicron are nasal catarrh, headache, fatigue, sneezing, a sore throat, and more rarely loss of smell and taste, coughing, and high fever.
PCR tests only for infected unvaccinated has triggered reactions as it contradicts recent regulations of the government requiring PCR test only for illness confirmation and registration in the health system. PCR confirmation can, for example, allow workers to stay at home and fully vaccinated over 60 to delay the booster shot before they are considered as “not vaccinated.”
It is not clear whether the government will revise the regulations before the total chaos breaks out.
PCR tests are free of charge at public health care units, however, they are linked to appointment delays of several days.
A PCR at private facilities cost 60 euros.
Meanwhile, Greek opposition parties are reportedly about to launch initiatives for free PCR tests for all and attack the government for failing to do so in the second year of the pandemic and while daily infections break one record after the other.