COVID-19 test results could soon be available in minutes as Malta is set to roll out rapid testing in the coming days.
In comments to Times of Malta on Wednesday, Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed that earlier this week Malta received shipments of the rapid testing kits, that give results in about 15 to 30 minutes.
The government, he said, will be making announcements on how these tests will be used alongside the existing testing procedures.
Results from the swab tests used so far take hours to give a result, with many people often only finding out they have COVID-19 a day after their test.
On Tuesday, the World Health Organisation called the widespread availability of the rapid tests a “major milestone”.
Countries have at times struggled to adequately control the spread of the outbreak because of the long stretch of time between a test and the result.
The Maltese health authorities have repeatedly said that widespread testing is key to keeping the outbreak under control. Malta has six testing centres all over the island - at Mater Dei Hospital, Luxol Grounds, Luqa, Qormi, Burmarrad and in Gozo.
The government has yet to say how much it has spent on COVID-19 tests despite saying it has an excellent testing rate due to its massive investment in screening for the virus. Since the start of the pandemic, 251,772 swab tests have been carried out.
Air Malta backs COVID-19 testing before flights
Meanwhile, Air Malta said on Wednesday that it had joined calls by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for the development and deployment of rapid, accurate, affordable, easy-to-operate, scalable and systematic COVID-19 testing for all passengers before flight departures.
This, is said, was an alternative to quarantine and intended to re-establish global air connectivity.
Air Malta chairman Charles Mangion said the airline industry is in desperate need of a solution to bring back trust in travel.