Ljubljana – Overwhelmed with PCR test samples, the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food (HLZOH) started sending part of them to Germany for analysis. The lab Eurofins processes them in 48 hours, which is in line with the new PCR testing protocol which kicked in yesterday.
All seven NLZOH labs around Slovenia are working at full capacity, so the samples they cannot process are sent to Germany in the afternoon and are delivered back the next day, the national lab told the STA on Thursday.
From 3,000 to 4,000 samples are sent to Eurofins daily, with the maximum number set at 5,000, or up to 10,000 if the German lab is alerted in advance.
The current arrangement is in place for three months, but HLZOH hopes Eurofins’s help will only be needed one month.
As of Wednesday, only persons with symptoms of respiratory infections from a few vulnerable groups are automatically eligible for a PCR test.
All the other persons with these symptoms do a PCR test only if their rapid antigen test or self-test is positive. The same applies to those without the symptoms.
Despite the changed regime, payable PCR testing is still available. The Zdravje Health Centre offers it for EUR 85 and sends the samples to the lab at the Golnik Clinic.
New daily cases peaked at a record of over 12,000 on Tuesday dropping to over 10,000 on Wednesday, with some testing points overwhelmed.
The Health Ministry urged the Ljubljana Community Health Centre to set up another PCR testing centre after reports came in about a traffic jam at the Stanežiče parking area with people waiting up to two hours in cars to get tested.
The health centre said on Thursday it had no staff for another test point, and partly attributed the crowds to a shortage of PCR tests at other locations, which referred people to them.
The health centre said it had notified the ministry of its staff issues, adding the ministry was not aware of the seriousness of the situation.
The ministry downplayed the criticism, saying it was aware of the situation and had offered help to increase the testing capacity, but the health centre responded by saying that the “advice provided by members of the ministerial team to the primary healthcare is distasteful”.