COVID19: Rapid test needed to visit hospitals

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A surge in COVID-19 cases, powered by Omicron subvariants, has pushed authorities to require a 24-hour rapid test for visiting hospitals and nursing homes.

On Thursday, the cabinet approved more measures to protect mainly the most vulnerable groups of society and people in healthcare facilities.

From Monday, all people visiting hospitals and nursing homes will need to carry a 24-hour rapid test or a 48-hour PCR with a negative result, regardless of their vaccination status (i.e., safe pass).

This does not apply to rehabilitation centres, where the vaccinated can gain access by exhibiting a valid vaccination certificate.

Testing stations will be established outside state hospitals in all districts to facilitate visitors.

The testing sites will operate daily between 11 am and 7 pm.

Each person is allowed two visits per day, one at a time.

The ministry noted that if necessary and approved by the hospital’s management, a patient can receive more visitors.

Authorities have also approved the rollout of a second booster jab for people with serious chronic conditions, regardless of age.

These include:

  • severe chronic respiratory disease
  • severe chronic heart and vascular disease
  • severe chronic kidney disease
  • severe chronic liver disease
  • severe chronic neurological disease
  • people with hemoglobinopathies

mRNA vaccines, namely Moderna and Pfizer, are administered provided that five months have elapsed since the last shot.

The cabinet approved the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee consisting of the Ministers of Health, Transport, Labour and Education to study installing ventilation systems in schools and other public buildings.

The Health Ministry called on the public to observe personal protection measures such as face masks, social distancing and hand hygiene.

It is further recommended that, regardless of vaccination history, take a self-test once a week or before and after visiting crowded places and events.