A chemist holds up a Covid antigen test which people can carry out at home. / SUR

Sales of rapid Covid tests have almost doubled in Malaga in two weeks

The rise in positive cases of coronavirus has increased demand for these tests which can be bought from pharmacies

ÁNGEL ESCALERA MALAGA.

Coronavirus continues to move freely among us, facilitated by the removal of restrictions. The number of Covid cases has increased considerably in the past two weeks, as GPs and emergency doctors consulted by SUR have confirmed.

One indication of this new rise in positive cases is that sales of antigen tests have doubled in Malaga since the end of April, according to sources we contacted at Bidafarma, which delivers medical supplies to local chemists.

One of the reasons for the increase in the number of infections is that masks are no longer compulsory in indoor settings and, in addition, people in general are less cautious now because they think the pandemic is over. In fact, they are mistaken: the Omicron variant is still predominant and it remains highly contagious.

"In the last two weeks sales of antigen tests have almost doubled. We know of people who have gone to the chemist to buy several of these products because they want to test the whole family; they suspect they have all caught the virus," said the sources at Bidafarma.

The Official College of Pharmacists in Malaga has also confirmed that there have been many more requests for these tests recently because of the rise in positive cases.

There has been a steady stream of people buying these tests to find out whether they have been infected. Although most of them are asymptomatic or their symptoms are mild, experts say nobody should let down their guard because some patients are still being admitted to intensive care units with Covid and there are still deaths from the virus.

On 28 March the Ministry of Health introduced a new system of monitoring and controlling Covid-19 because the acute phase of the pandemic was over. This means that tests to confirm or discount infection are now only carried out in health centres on people over 60, immunocompromised patients and pregnant women. As a result, many people who develop symptoms and think they may have caught Covid test themselves instead of going to a health centre or hospital.

Fewer tests and higher cases

Because the public health service is now carrying out fewer tests for active infection, which include PCR and antigen tests, the real figures are much higher than the ones which are issued by the authorities.

This is partly because some people do not bother to do a test, and also because many who self-test and have a positive result do not report it to their doctor so they are never included in the statistics.

Despite what is stipulated in the regulation that came into force on 28 March about who should be tested for coronavirus, GPs have said that if someone arrives at their health centre with symptoms which could be Covid, they always carry out a test. "Nobody can stop us from using the tools we have at our disposal to provide the best possible diagnosis. That would not be logical, and it would not be ethical either," one of the GPs said.