Greece: Critics warn virus test price caps may slash testing

International

A woman wearing face mask to curb the spread of the coronavirus, walks at an empty Syntagma square, in central Athens, on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Greece’s government spokesman on Thursday announced a weeklong extension to the country’s current lockdown, due to the continued spread of the. COVID-19. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) —

Greece’s largest medical association on Monday criticized a decision by the country’s government to impose price caps on coronavirus tests at private labs, warning that the measure could disrupt testing during a spike in infections.

The center-right government last week set the price limits at 40 euros ($48) for regular swab tests and 10 euros ($12) for rapid tests, cutting current rates at most labs by more than half.

In response, the Panhellenic Medical Association said that the measure would force many independent labs to stop providing COVID-19 tests because they would be too costly for them, putting additional pressure on the state-run health service.

There was no immediate response from Greece’s Development Ministry to the complaint.

Greece suffered its highest daily death toll due to the pandemic at the weekend, with 121 deaths reported Saturday.

Another 85 deaths were recorded Monday, raising the overall toll to 2,406 — with more than two-thirds of all fatalities occurring in November.

But health officials said the number of new infections was waning in most parts of the country, which has been in lockdown for three weeks.

A total 1,044 new confirmed infections were recorded Monday – down from a record high of more than 3,000 earlier in November – which brought the total in the country of about 11 million to 105,271.

Vana Papaevangelou, from the government’s COVID-19 advisory board, told a daily briefing that new infections were falling faster in the major cities of Athens and Thessaloniki than in the rest of the country, but said the number of infections in the two cities still remains high.

Greece’s lockdown, which initially had been set to end Monday, has been extended for another week.

Separately Monday, the government said it was looking for ways to help commercialize a state-supervised research project involving several Greek universities and research labs that has produced a new rapid test method for the coronavirus.

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