Greece rolls out free self-testing kits for COVID-19

Kits for self-administered coronavirus tests have begun arriving in Greek pharmacies, with each resident entitled to one per week as part of efforts to tackle a surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations

ATHENS, Greece — Kits for self-administered coronavirus tests began arriving in Greek pharmacies Wednesday, with each resident entitled to one free of charge per week as part of efforts to tackle a surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Addressing complaints reported by some pharmacists that the tests had arrived in packages of 25 instead of as individual kits, forcing pharmacists to repackage them for distribution, Kontozamanis said future shipments would be in individual packaging.

Greece has been under lockdown-type restrictions since early November and schools have been shut for most of the time since then, although they briefly reopened for a few weeks earlier this year. Only special education schools have remained open throughout.

Authorities have been debating reopening schools, particularly for the final grades of high school, where students are preparing for university entrance exams. Health officials have said students who don’t carry out the self-test and have a declaration signed by their parents confirming a negative result won’t be allowed to attend classes.

Anyone testing positive will have to declare it on a government website and will have to undergo a repeat PCR test.

Despite the surge, retail stores in most of the country reopened Monday on an appointment-only basis. Cafes, restaurants and bars remain shut and are allowed to operate on a takeout or delivery basis only, while a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew remains in place and people are allowed to leave home only for specific reasons and after sending a text message to authorities or carrying a self-declaration form. Masks are compulsory in all public indoor and outdoor areas.

But after five months of restrictions, many are openly flouted and crowds outside cafes and bars serving drinks in plastic cups have become common in the evenings.

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