ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s government said Friday it is putting limits on how much private medical facilities can charge for coronavirus tests.
Commerce and Consumer Protection Secretary General Panagiotis Stamboulidis said that the price limits would be 40 euros ($48) for PCR tests and 10 euros ($12) for rapid antigen tests.
Private medical clinics and hospitals had been charging about 70-120 euros ($84-$143) for PCR tests and around 40 euros for the rapid tests.
“The government from the start has set as an absolute priority the protection of public health, and citizens’ access to this. Both are non-negotiable for us,” Stamboulidis said during a regular government briefing on the course of the pandemic.
A draft bill will be brought to parliament in coming days to allow for the limits, he said.
Stamboulis said that while the Greek government supports “practices of healthy competition,” it has an obligation to intervene at a time when most of the retail sector and large segments of the economy are shut due to a coronavirus-related lockdown.
Many individuals and businesses are using virus tests as a means of preventing the spread of COVID-19, he said.
Authorities said Friday that Greece was still seeing a high level of infections, particularly in some areas in the north and west, despite a nationwide lockdown imposed on Nov. 7. The government announced Thursday that it was extending the lockdown, which had been due to expire at the end of November, by one week to Dec. 7.
Civil Protection Deputy Minister Nikos Hardalias said talk of what measures might be in place during Christmas was “premature at the moment.”
Greece, which has a population of about 11 million, has reported over 101,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 2,100 virus-related deaths.