Canton of Zug, 23.11.2020

Pharmacies preparing for Covid-19 rapid tests

Three new test centres will be operational at the beginning of December. Pharmacies in Zug, Steinhausen and Rotkreuz are currently preparing for the appropriate preparations.

The ratio of positive Covid-19 tests to the total number of tests carried out is still too high throughout Switzerland, with the positivity rate remaining around the 20% mark. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that anything over 5% means that there is a serious outbreak, and that there is no clear picture of the extent of the epidemic. Despite the introduction of rapid tests, the total number of Corona tests in Switzerland is declining.

The pharmacies now want to counteract this trend, as the president of the Association of Zug Pharmacists, Martin Affentranger, states. For this reason, three pharmacies that have sufficient space and the necessary employees are now preparing to offer such rapid tests in the canton of Zug.

"If we’re not considering another lockdown in Switzerland, we should also consistently test ourselves if we feel any symptoms that suggest a cold," says Affentranger. The new test centres will be set up at the Amavita pharmacy on the Bundesplatz in Zug (so-called ‘EPA-Platz’), at the Arkadenhof Pharmacy in Rotkreuz, as well as at the Moll pharmacy and drugstore in the Zugerland shopping centre in Steinhausen.

Test centres must be outside pharmacies
Two tents have thereby been erected on the top floor of the Zugerland car park. Planning and training are already well advanced here. "We have enough space and enough employees for such a test centre," explains Managing Director Dominik Moll. The Corona guidelines require that customers who come for a Covid 19 test are not allowed to pass through the same areas as other customers.

Pharmacist Dominik Moll at the test tents on the top floor of the car park of the Zugerland shopping centre.

Moll emphasizes that this is a conventional test centre, where you walk to the test location, as opposed to having the test in you car. He and some of his staff have been specially trained for the tests. "We have learned how to put on and take off the safety clothing – for our own protection." They have also practiced taking a smear from the patient. The far greater challenge, however, is the processes in the background. "We expect that we will need two people per smear." One with the patient and one at the computer below in the shop. "Because the employees have to re-check the data, pass it on to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH/BAG) and send the result to the tested persons by SMS or e-mail." Patients are sent home to isolate immediately after the test:

"It is extremely important that they do not go shopping, either before or after. This would be very counterproductive."

As the managing director of Amavita Zug, Patricia Schelbert, says, the new offer is not about raising additional revenue. "The effort we have to put into this is immense." She said she wanted to support the system during the corona pandemic, and to be able to test as many people with symptoms as possible.

The test is only available with symptoms and pre-registration
In all the pharmacies, testing is only carried out with prior notice. In Steinhausen, it’s already clear that this will be done via a website. Appointments at the Amavita pharmacy in Zug, as well as at the Arkadenhof pharmacy in Rotkreuz, are expected to be arranged by telephone. According to Patricia Nunes, the manager of the pharmacy in Rotkreuz, there is also the possibility of contacting her pharmacy by e-mail.

All the pharmacies are only carrying out the rapid tests, which are currently only permitted in Switzerland for people with possible Covid-19 symptoms. Risk patients and health care staff are also excluded, and preventive tests, for example for travel, are not possible.

The Health Directorate of the Canton of Zug welcomes the efforts of the pharmacies. "We are delighted that they are taking part in this," explains Aurel Köpfli, the communications manager. There are no bottlenecks at the two previous test centres, however. "But with the test rates currently falling, we are happy that there are more opportunities to be tested." So that as many people as possible can be tested, even with mild symptoms.

The test centres are expected to start operating in the week of 1st December.