Madrid’s COVID Tests for Free Struggle With Demand
(Reuters) – Madrid’s regional government provided free COVID-19 test kits on Tuesday. Queues grew long outside pharmacies as nationwide infections rates continued to rise amid Omicron’s rapid growth.
Spain’s coronavirus infections rate hit a new record, rising to 1,360 cases per 100,000 in the preceding 14 days. This is up from 1,206 cases reported on Monday. That’s which is five times more than the beginning of December, according to health ministry statistics.
On Tuesday, there were 250 additional deaths reported in the last seven days making the total 89.253.
Hospitals were not as affected in previous pandemic waves. The government said that 80% of patients over 60 had received booster vaccine doses.
Madrid-based pharmacist Cristina Sanchez said she had only received 20 test kits to distribute on Tuesday as part of a plan to increase the supply after pharmacies began running out of paid tests. But there were more than 30 people waiting outside when she opened.
The first few to queue up will usually take multiple tests, which means most have to either return home empty handed or buy kits for $9. These kits were also selling quickly.
“The people who are waiting outside and are cold, who have been waiting for many years and we are unable to give them to them anymore,” she told Reuters at her pharmacy located on the fringes of Madrid.
Taxi driver Miguel Jesus Arroyo was one of the lucky few who were able to pass the opportunity to take a test.
He said, “You have to get up early because if not soon, it’s gone in one flash.”
Italy, one of the countries most affected by the pandemic, also reported an increase in cases and long lines have developed at some drive-in testing centres while many chemical professionals have reported being flooded with requests for tests.
Luca Zaia, the head of the north-eastern region of Veneto region, which has been severely impacted by the increasing case load, said he was worried that test kits could soon run out and requested the government to eliminate tests in certain scenarios.
“We can’t let the testing system collapse,” he said.