Rapid testing for COVID-19 available at two new swabbing centres

Rapid testing for COVID-19 will initially be available for healthcare and care home workers, Health Minister Chris Fearne says

Health Minister Chris Fearne
Health Minister Chris Fearne

Two new additional COVID-19 swabbing centres focused on rapid testing will start being used in the coming days.

The first centre will be set up on the grounds of Boffa Hospital in Floriana, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Wednesday during a press conference on the allocation of funds in relation to the 2021 budget.

The second swabbing centre will be located in the north, however, Fearne did not give the location.

Fearne said that 1,000 rapid tests are expected to be carried out daily, with over 20,000 testing kits having arrived in Malta on Tuesday, with another 50,000 expected by next week. Initially, the tests will be used for healthcare workers, including staff at care homes.

“From Friday, the staff at care homes will have access to rapid testing – which can see results in 15 to 30 minutes. Staff at care homes test regularly. This will alleviate problems associated with staff having to miss shifts because they are awaiting test results,” Fearne said.

Fearne also said that from Friday rapid testing will also be introduced at Malta International Airport.

A rapid test can take as little as 15 minutes and not more than 30 minutes for results, as opposed to at least a day to communicate the PCR testing currently in use, which is a far more laborious procedure.

Fearne said that while rapid tests are effective, the PCR was still the most reliable test.

Capital projects

Fearne said that in 2021 excavation works will begin on a new outpatient building. The target is for the project to be completed by 2024.

Block 1 at Mount Carmel is also expected to be renovated, with a tender of the work, already out, Fearne said. There are also plans to drop Block 10, and rebuild it from the ground up.  

Fearne also said that in 2021, there are plans to renovate the Gudija, Ghaxaq, Kalkara, Marsaxlokk, Santa Lucija, Tarxien and Valletta health centres. Works at the Gzira health care centre are already underway.

Fearne also said that renovations at the Rabat health care centre in Gozo are almost complete.

Turning to the new Gozo hospital Fearne said the project will be completed in 2024.

Medicines to be added to the formulary list

Fearne said that new medicines, including those for osteoporosis and HIV will be added to the formulary list. He added that 15,000 people have already benefited from prostate medication which was added to the list earlier this year. 150 additional cancer medications are also expected to be added.

Fearne also said that remote patient monitoring would continue to be strengthened.