A mass testing program with free rapid tests started this morning in the 10 parishes in Lisbon with the highest incidence of covid-19, with a membership of 68 pharmacies for now.
To mark the initiative, the presidents of Lisbon City Council, Fernando Medina, and of the National Pharmacy Association, Paulo Cleto Duarte, partners in this project, were today at Marvila pharmacy, one of 68 that, for now, allow this mass testing in parishes in the capital.
“What this program does is add a new layer of protection and ensure that people in the parishes who are on a threshold level of lack of definition […] have the possibility to carry out two tests per month free of charge “, stressed Fernando Medina.
The mayor said that until today this morning 68 pharmacies had joined the program, but the number could reach more than 200 in the coming days.
The testing is carried out according to a concept of proximity to users, by professionals from the pharmacy chain, “who, if there are positive records, immediately report them on SINAVE”, a system managed by the Ministry of Health, explained Fernando Medina.
Paulo Cleto Duarte pointed out that, in addition to Lisbon, the ANF “already has other contacts from municipalities in the region of Lisbon and the Tagus Valley and other parts of the country” to join a similar program.
The pharmaceutical official said that there is still no definitive information on when pharmacies will be able to sell a quick test for use by the general population, already approved by Infarmed, but he assures that “soon” there will be news.
“I don’t think it will take too long,” he said.
The tests can be booked in person at the participating pharmacies or through the number 1400, which operates 24 hours a day.
The appointment schedule for tests at the Marvila pharmacy, in the Lisbon neighborhood of the same name, is filled for this week, including on Easter Saturday, said Isaura Martinho, the technical director.
As soon as they heard about the testing, many residents made an appointment, but this morning they continued to come, dropper-alert, alerted by the number of people in front of the pharmacy, very unusual these days.
“We will be working as long as it takes to do more tests, more tests and more tests to get out of this pandemic more quickly,” said the pharmacist, stressing that the pharmacy has been testing since March, so it is prepared to work.
Within the scope of the protocol with the Chamber, it is scheduling 10 to 15 tests per day, with a reference time of 20 minutes for each one.
“If it is negative, it is negative. If it is positive, there is a specific indication for the person to make the confinement and go to the competent authorities, such as the family doctor or the General Directorate of Health (DGS) or call Health 24” , he explained, stressing that the pharmacist also inserts the positive result in the DGS system.
The pharmacy covers about 4,000 people and the identification of the user as a resident in the parish is done through the citizen’s card or a proof of address.
The test by Matay, one of the first residents with an appointment at the Marvila pharmacy, was negative, so he can go on with his life, “as is possible in this phase” of the lack of definition.
“It is important and I think there are a number of things that we should take into account. First, it’s free, it’s right next to home and it’s fast, so we don’t have to travel, we don’t have to travel long distances to be able to perform the test, there is no associated cost here “, he said, speaking to Lusa.
The parishes of Lisbon involved for now are those of Ajuda, Alvalade, Arroios, Estrela, Marvila, Olivais, São Vicente, Santa Clara, Santa Maria Maior and Santo António.
However, this situation may change, as the percentage of covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants also changes, said Medina.
The list of participating pharmacies is available on the websites of CML and ANF.