Regular COVID testing in firms may start in February

Regular testing of employees for coronavirus may begin in firms in February and the health insurance companies would cover the costs of antigen tests used in firms, Confederation of Industry Vice President Jan Rafaj has told CTK. He said representatives of the employers and ministries have agreed on this.

"If the decision is made next week, massive testing in firms might begin already in February," Rafaj said. The tests would be carried out by company doctors or by general practitioners hired for this. Health insurance companies would pay the doctors for the tests and their carrying out. Rafaj said the date when testing for COVID-19 would be launched in firms would depend on when the Health Ministry completed the setting of the conditions for the test.

Czech citizens may undergo antigen tests for free at testing points once in three days. Czechia is one of the countries in which the coronavirus infection has been spreading most quickly. The state of emergency has been imposed on Czechia since October 5. In mid-October, the government closed schools, restaurants, sport and cultural facilities and most shops and services. The restrictions were loosened in early December, but again tightened after Christmas. The government is considering a further tightening of the lockdown rules.

Firms have been operating for the whole time. According to some experts, the virus can spread mainly in families and at work because of this. Some firms have already been testing their employees, but they cover the costs of the testing themselves. The employees asked the state to support COVID testing in firms already last summer and they negotiated with the Health Ministry about it.

In early November, the government’s national economic council (NERV) and the tripartite council, comprising representatives of the government, employers and trade unions, talked about this support. Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) then said the state may participate in the payment of the antigen tests. However, the decision has not been made yet. Rafaj said the agreement was reached now.

According to experts, more testing and more contact tracing is needed until the vaccination against COVID-19 is completed. Unless this is done, the epidemic will get out of control. At least 200,000 tests a day should be done in the country with 10.7 million inhabitants, while now about 60,000 antigen and PCR tests per day are carried out.

The financial compensation paid to those in quarantine should be increased in order to motivate people to undergo the test and report their risk contacts. Last Monday, the tripartite council has not agreed on one of the three methods of calculation of the sum that people in quarantine would get instead of their salary. Labour Minister Jana Malacova (Social Democrats, CSSD) then said an agreement would be found by the end of the week and the proposal would be submitted to the government on Monday.

Source: ČTK

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