QCOSTARICA – The Ministry of Health authorized on Friday the import and use of rapid or home tests to detect covid-19, as a screening strategy at a time when the highly contagious variant omicron is present in the country.
The authorization for the sale of these products, also called self-tests, must be managed before the Customer Service Directorate (Dirección de Atención al Cliente) of the Ministry of Health, and comply with the requirements established by the import guideline.
“Self-tests authorized for marketing and use are those that have a sanitary registration or a temporary entry authorization from the Ministry of Health and apply only to those recommended by the World Health Organization / Pan American Health Organization (WHO / PAHO ) or authorized by the strict regulatory authorities for the prequalification of in vitro tests,” explained the statement.
Tests imported and marketed in Costa Rica must have a sensitivity equal to or greater than 80% (probability that the test result for a disease is positive if you actually have the disease), and a specificity equal to or greater than 95% (chance that a test will be negative if you do not really have the disease).
“The person who obtains a positive result of this test should isolate themself, in the same way they should go to a health service to verify the result of it by RT-PCR, as well as to determine the sanitary regulations. The self-tests may be marketed in those establishments with a current health operating permit for an activity consistent with the sale of this type of product,” the Ministry of Health explains.
These tests measure the antigens, that is, the proteins of the virus, and determine if a person has symptoms. Some require a nasal sample that can be obtained with a swab (included in the kit that the test comes in) and others work with a saliva sample. Results are in a matter of minutes.
Santiago Núñez Corrales, a Costa Rican researcher in complex systems at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in the United States, considers that these tests are transcendental in the context of the pandemic and are useful for people to make their decisions about whether to attend work or social activities or isolate yourself if they are positive.