640,000 Coronavirus testing kits have arrived in Spain and according to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, that number could quickly reach one million, with a possible six million more devices on the way.
The rapid testing kits, that will give back results in just a few minutes, have been acquired from China and South Korea.
The tests are to be distributed ‘fairly’ between the Spanish regions and will first be given to health workers, who on a daily basis risk contracting Covid-19 as they treat patients who are already suffering from the deadly disease.
Tests will then be given to senior citizens who live in care homes and residences.
According to the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, Fernando Simón, there are more than 3,400 confirmed infections among Spanish health workers, that is 12% of Spain's total cases.
This is the reason why tests will be sent first to these workers, who are key in helping with the fight against the Coronavirus.
He then went on to say that the kits would then be rolled out to those in the higher risk groups. “For example, in senior homes, to ensure that there are no new residents with infections and to be able to separate those who are sick in time. From then, the process, which will last two, three or four days, will continue until it reaches the entire population.”
The government says that these new tests will enable them to get a better idea of the ongoing pandemic in Spain, which to date has caused 28,771 cases and 1,779 deaths.
The arrival of the tests is obviously great news, but some regions in Spain didn’t wait for them to arrive. Regions such as Andalusia, La Rioja and Galicia have already begun to accelerate their patient diagnoses by testing those with mild symptoms without them even getting out of their cars.
Those patients tested are then analyzed with the PCR tests, which hospitals have up until now been using.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has continuously stated that all countries should carry out as much testing as possible, in order to stop the spread of this deadly pandemic. They couldn't put it clearer when they say “Test, Test, Test!”
Spanish health authorities also claimed on Saturday that a total of 350,000 tests had been carried out, at a rate of 15,000 a day.
Unfortunately, though the lack of resources in Spain has meant that the criteria for carrying out the tests have become more and more restrictive. For weeks now no testing has taken place on mild cases, meaning it is impossible to really know what the true rate of infection is among the Spanish population.
The new testing kits are going to be so helpful in solving this problem, as until now PCR tests took several hours in a laboratory to process. Whereas the new antigenic tests work like a pregnancy test, giving results back in just a few minutes.
When the test is complete, coloured bands will appear depending on the number of antigens detected. The diagnosis can be positive, negative or doubtful. If the result is unclear, a repeat test can be done after 24 hours or a PCR test can be carried out to give confirmation.
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