Madrid’s free COVID tests struggle to keep up with demand


MADRID (Reuters) – Demand for free COVID-19 testing kits offered by Madrid’s regional authorities far outstripped provide on Tuesday, with lengthy queues forming outdoors pharmacies in what has turn into a typical scene for the reason that Omicron variant started driving up an infection.

It was an analogous story in Italy, the place lengthy traces have developed at some drive-in testing centres whereas many chemists have reported being deluged with requests for tests as infections climb.

Madrid-based pharmacist Cristina Sanchez stated she had solely acquired 20 take a look at kits to distribute on Tuesday as a part of a plan to reinforce provide after pharmacies began working out of paid tests, however there have been already greater than 30 folks ready ouside when she opened.

As the primary few folks in line have a tendency to take a number of tests every, most have to return residence empty handed or purchase kits for 9 euros, which have been additionally promoting out quick.

“The people who find themselves ready outdoors, who’re chilly, who’ve been ready for a very long time, we won’t give them to them anymore,” she advised Reuters at her pharmacy on the outskirts of Madrid.

Taxi driver Miguel Jesus Arroyo was one of many fortunate few to safe a take a look at.

“You’ve received to get up early, as a result of in case you do not come quickly, it is throughout in a flash,” he stated.

Fuelled by the extremely contagious Omicron variant, instances in Spain have soared previously month, pushing the nationwide 14-day incidence to a document 1,206 instances per 100,000 folks on Monday, a five-fold rise for the reason that starting of December.

Italy, one of many international locations worst hit by the pandemic, has additionally reported rising infections.

Luca Zaia, the top of the north-eastern Veneto area which has been badly hit by the surging case load, stated he was frightened take a look at kits might quickly run out and requested the federal government to drop testing necessities in sure conditions.

“We can’t let the testing system collapse,” he stated.

(Writing by Nathan Allen; Additional reporting by Crispian Balmer in Rome; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Angus MacSwan)

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