Monaco recently received 10,000 rapid antigen tests to screen for COVID-19, with results known in mere minutes. Starting next week, the public will be able to be screened with the new tests at clinics and pharmacies. (The Léo-Ferré screening centre is still only reserved for PCR tests.)
Antigen tests, which have been approved by the French Ministry of Health, are sure to become an important tool in Monaco’s arsenal against COVID-19. One of the main advantages of an antigen test is the speed of the test, results are known in 15-20 minutes. A colour strip displays the result: one strip is negative, two strips is positive.
Prince’s Carabinieri are first to be tested
On Thursday afternoon, in the heart of the Prince’s Carabinieri rest room, located on the 9th floor of the barracks on Boulevard de Belgique, the prince’s riflemen were the first to be tested with the new antigen tests. The soldiers underwent a nasopharyngeal swab performed by their own colleagues, who were trained in the medical procedure back when the health crisis began. All the tests done on Thursday came back negative.
In general, antigen tests are not as sensitive as molecular tests. Negative results from an antigen test may need to be confirmed with a molecular test prior to making treatment decisions. Results should be considered in the context of clinical observations, patient history and epidemiological information. False positive results may also occur, and can be attributed to patient-specific factors, such as the presence of human antibodies or highly viscous specimens.
Other than speed, another advantage of the antigen test is that when travelling, certain countries (like Italy, for example) accept an antigen test when you get off the plane. Airlines are working to get antigen tests accepted in other airports.
Testing prior to Monaco’s National Day
On 16 November, three days before National Day, 124 Carabinieri will be tested using the new method. This will help keep the general public safer during the celebrations. On 5 November, Monaco’s Government confirmed that a lockdown is still not on the agenda in the near future. For National Day festivities (and every other day for that matter) everyone is urged to wear a mask in public.