The Federal Council wants to take more than a billion francs in hand to massively expand the test strategy. All citizens should soon receive five free self-tests per month.
The Federal Council discussed the corona measures again.
It does not decide on any changes in the easing strategy: Further easing is not expected until March 22nd at the earliest.
From March 15, the federal government wants to enable all free corona tests.
As soon as reliable tests are available, every citizen should be able to receive five free tests per month.
At the Federal Council meeting on the corona measures, the test strategy was right at the top of the agenda. Nothing will be changed in the easing strategy for the time being: If the epidemiological development is favorable, the next easing steps should take place on March 22nd. The Federal Council will make final decisions on March 19.
The Federal Council wants to support this with a greatly expanded test strategy. Specifically, he proposes that the federal government assume all costs for tests from March 15 – even for people who want to be tested without symptoms.
Repeated tests in companies and schools
In companies and schools, tests are to be carried out repeatedly using saliva samples. However, this is not a substitute for protection concepts, but serves as additional protection, according to the government. Participation is voluntary. The cantons should be able to exempt companies that test frequently from the obligation to quarantine contact persons.
Self-tests for everyone
The Federal Council also wants to facilitate access to self-tests. All people should be able to test themselves regularly, even if they have no symptoms. Each person should be able to receive five self-tests per month. Because there is not enough information on the use of self-tests in people without symptoms, the Federal Office of Public Health has not yet approved such tests. The Federal Council therefore proposes that the federal government also cover the costs for all rapid tests in pharmacies and test centers. This rule also applies to cross-border commuters.
According to the Federal Council, the expansion of the test strategy is associated with certain risks, because every test result is only a snapshot. In addition, self-tests are much less reliable than PCR tests. “A negative test must not lead to false security and unreasonable behavior,” says the press release.
Regulation for events still unclear
Wearing a mask and keeping your distance would still be necessary. It is also important that people with a positive rapid test or self-test take a PCR test and immediately go into isolation. It is still unclear whether a negative test result may be defined as a prerequisite for participation in certain events or access to certain areas.
The cost of expanding the test strategy for 2021 is estimated to be over a billion Swiss francs. The Federal Council will make a final decision on March 12th after consulting the cantons.
The Federal Council currently distinguishes between five different test types.
• PCR test nasopharynx: The reliability of this test is very high, the sampling may only be carried out by a specialist. The evaluation takes place in the laboratory. It is used for people with symptoms, people at risk, health professionals and for people with a positive quick test or self-test.
• PCR saliva test: Anyone can take the sample here, the evaluation takes place in the laboratory. The Federal Council rates the reliability as high. It is suitable for companies, schools, the staff of retirement homes or sports clubs.
• Rapid antigen test, nasopharynx: The reliability is also high here. A specialist takes the samples and the laboratory evaluates them. Areas of application: People with symptoms, repetitive tests, in the vicinity of particularly endangered people (e.g. retirement home visitors), needs testing in pharmacies.
• Nose rapid antigen test: So far there is a validated test here. Reliability is high for symptoms and lower for symptomless. The sample is taken by a specialist; the evaluation can be carried out on site, for example in a pharmacy. Areas of application: on-demand testing in pharmacies, repetitive tests possible, if sufficiently good tests are available on the market.
• Self-test nose: Validated tests of this test type are not yet available. Anyone can carry it out anywhere and evaluate it. They are reliable for symptoms, but are likely to be lower without symptoms. They are suitable for on-demand testing at home; repetitive tests are possible as long as sufficiently good tests are available on the market.
In the case of a positive result with a PCR test in the nasopharynx, you have to go into isolation. If you test positive with another test, a PCR test is done as confirmation, after which you also have to be in isolation.