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'Soft launch' for Rapid Covid-19 testing service

Pic: Eyleen Gomez

A Rapid Covid-19 testing service will be opened for a “soft launch” at the Gibraltar International Airport, the Gibraltar Government has confirmed.
As reported by the Chronicle on Thursday, the service is for people who are travelling in and out of Gibraltar and require results quickly. The Government confirmed the service aims to provide results within an hour.
The rapid testing is a private service commissioned by the Government and GHA to assist travellers wanting a quick way of assessing their risk to relatives or fellow passengers.
There is a charge made by the provider of £50 for the test and results will be sent by SMS to the customer.
An electronic certificate will also be supplied.
Director of Public Health, Dr Sohail Bhatti, told the Chronicle the service could potentially provide results within 30 minutes.
But this speed will come at the cost of accuracy.
“That rapid test is less reliable than the standard test that we use but we are minded that sometimes people want immediate reassurance,” he said.
“They want to go and see their elderly mum and they want to be doubly sure that they are not going to bring anything with them.”
The Government said the service uses a rapid antigen test and is not as accurate as the PCR test available at the MidTown drive-through facility.
Where a rapid test is positive, local customers will be encouraged to book a more accurate PCR test by calling 111 in order to confirm the positive result.
“People who wish to fly should therefore test themselves at least 24 if not 48 hours before flying,” the Government said.
“It is not intended that the service is used by those entitled to GHA care, as they will continue to have access to the more accurate PCR test for free, and will be called as per standard call-recall rotations.”
“People who are self-isolating should remain at home, and not use the Rapid Covid-19 test facility as it will not reduce their isolation period regardless of the result because the virus can incubate for 10 days.”
Dr Bhatti advised that the rapid test will identify whether a person has a “roaring infection or not”, but he stressed this service is not intended for Gibraltarians.
“It is not intended for standard Gibraltarians to go get a rapid test,” he said.
“It’s not even meant for students. It’s meant as an extra offer for people who are worried to go.”
“Students will still be invited to go to the drive-through. They can set their own appointment up, but I do know it is possible, if you go there during opening hours, they will log you in the system and get a swab done.”

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