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GSD says Govt should allow sale of low-cost LFTs

Pic by Aaron Chown

The GSD has called on the Gibraltar Government to “massively ramp up” the provision of low cost lateral flow costs as a useful tool in controlling the spread of Covid-19.

It was reacting after local pharmacies began offering supervised LFTs at a cost of £30.

The government, acting on the advice of the Director of Public Health, has to date resisted calls for LFTs to be made available at a lower costs for people to buy and test themselves at home.

It said the advice is that supervised tests ensure they are correctly carried out and that the results are collated centrally by the contact tracing bureau.

But Elliott Phillips, the GSD’s shadow minister for health, said it was now time for a rethink.

“We recognise that the DPH has moved to allowing pharmacies to conduct tests under a rigorous protocol,” he said.

“We cautiously welcomed this move but it appears that the cost of these test will continue to be £30 each which is prohibitive and disincentivises responsible citizens who may wish to test on a more regular basis.”

“Questions need to be answered as to why these costs are so high in Gibraltar when LFTs are available at very low cost in many other countries. How are these being supplied into Gibraltar, who is supplying these, who is controlling the prices and why are release tests on day six and seven only being permitted at the Rapid Test Centre at the Airport?”

“The GSD calls on Government to clarify these questions.”

“It therefore cannot be right that the public who wish to do their bit and be responsible to be charged a £30 fee every time they wish to test, especially where tests in other countries are free or are limited to a few euros in price.”

The Chronicle last week asked the Gibraltar Government to provide details of the procurement and supply of LFTs but it has yet to receive a response.

The GSD said many countries around the worlds used low-cost LFTs as an additional “critical tool” to control the virus, adding they are quick and easy to use.

If the tests are provided at very low cost, it is likely that people who do not have symptoms will increase the frequency of testing at home, it said.

“The kits supplied by the NHS in the UK and the authorities in Spain are supported by easy to use instructions and therefore there is no reason to prohibit their widespread use on Gibraltar solely on the basis of quality control,” the party said.

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