Pharmacies prepare to administer more rapid antigen tests

Pharmacies prepare to administer more rapid antigen tests
Credit: Belga

From November, anyone presenting coronavirus symptoms for less than six days will be able to take a rapid antigen test in a pharmacy, announced the Belgian Pharmaceutical Association (APB) on Thursday.

Many pharmacies already carry out rapid antigen tests for those wishing to travel or attend a large event. Soon pharmacies will have tests available for anyone with SARS-Cov-2 symptoms, although the APB says that this won't be the case for every single pharmacy.  Test results are delivered in between 15 and 30 minutes.

The announcement follows a decision by health authorities hoping to relieve the strain on general practitioners, who already receive many demands for this service. As seasonal illnesses increase during winter, doctors were concerned that they would be unable to provide tests to everyone presenting Covid-19 symptoms, Belga News Agency reports.

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"Pharmacists are proud to assist doctors and testing centres in the fight against coronavirus and this is an important effort," said Koen Straetmans, APB president, adding that pharmacists have the necessary expertise to be an important part of the effort to prevent further outbreaks.

From 12 July, antigen tests have been available in around 2,500 of 4,700 pharmacies in Belgium. Since then, approximately 430,000 tests have been carried out. It is up to individual pharmacies to decide whether they wish to provide the rapid tests or not. For this reason, Straetmans recommends "contacting your pharmacy beforehand."

Belgian citizens returning from abroad or tourists arriving in Belgium will soon no longer have to do a PCR test and can simply take a rapid antigen test instead.

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