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Health

Italy close to buying five million COVID-19 rapid tests: PM

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ROME (Reuters) - Italy is finalising a tender to buy 5 million COVID-19 rapid antigenic tests, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday, as the country seeks to make testing for citizens easier and faster.

In the past few days, many Italians in cities across the country have been queuing for hours at hospitals and laboratories in order to be tested with molecular swabs, which require at least two days to give results.

“We are working on the rapid tests, the antigenic (ones), we are finalising a tender for 5 million rapid tests”, Conte said in a video at a public event in Rome.

“This will allow the population to face the next weeks with less anxiety, everyone would like to do the tests and in this way we should be able to face the next weeks and months better”, he added.

Italy on Wednesday registered 3,678 new coronavirus infections compared to the day before, the health ministry said, the first time the country exceeded 3,000 cases in a single day since April.

Access to testing is granted only to those people who either have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with people who have already tested positive and have a GP prescription.

Testing is also compulsory for those who have travelled from certain countries, including the United Kingdom, Belgium and some areas of France.

Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, writing by Emilio Parodi, editing by Giulia Segreti and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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