Close contacts to get antigen tests instead of PCRs

PCRs will continue to be used in schools

The Health Department will quickly test close contacts of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in order to detect new infections. Health Secretary Marc Ramentol said on Friday that antigen tests have proven to be an efficient tool for detecting positive cases in asymptomatic patients as well, and that in the next few weeks they will start being used for close contacts of confirmed cases.

The department notes that it maintains its commitment to testing close contacts, but given "the increase in cases" they will now do so through rapid testing. This opens the door to testing points outside hospitals. The Health department also issued a reminder of the obligation to quarantine after close contact, even when the test comes back negative and there are no symptoms.

In a document addressed to health professionals to which this journal has had access, the Generalitat maintains the study of contacts with a PCR test in schools but urges secondary school students to take the nasal sample extraction themselves. As for the infant and primary school cycles, screening with PCR will continue in stable school cohabitation groups when a positive case is detected.

As for the contact tracers, they will not make contact other students in a school cohabitation group if there is a positive case. It will therefore be the schools themselves that will inform the parents and explain the measures they need to follow.

The changes come after the relative saturation that has occurred in some hospitals in recent weeks. All of this is due to the significant increase in cases of covid-19 throughout Catalonia. The so-called rapid tests, "antigens", would allow results to be obtained quicker.

Less screening

There will also be less mass screening. According to the Health Department, proposals to carry out screening should only be applied in areas of low incidence, or in studies of complex outbreaks in certain places of high exposure. The information provided by the territorial surveillance services could therefore be used to assess these screenings in university, secondary and vocational training centres according to the 'prevalence in the area'.

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