New Covid-19 rapid testing stations set up by the Mexico City government are proving to be popular.
The government last week established 26 new testing points where residents of the capital can be tested free of charge. On Friday, the first day of operation of the so-called “macro-kiosks,” a total of 2,246 people were tested including 336 citizens who were found to have the coronavirus.
About 150 people lined up in a socially distant way to get tested at a macro-kiosk outside the Etiopía Metro station in the capital’s Navarte neighborhood.
“I don’t feel unwell but I go out to the street a lot for my work,” one man told the newspaper Reforma when asked why he decided to get tested. “My main concern is my family,” he explained.
A woman lining up to get tested also told Reforma that she didn’t feel sick but explained that she was exposed to the virus and wanted to find out if she was infected.
“I’m here because I had contact a week ago with someone who had Covid and I want to be responsible and find out if I have it or not,” Gabriela Arellano said.
She said that the free testing stations were a good idea because not everyone has the means to pay for a test at a private clinic.
Another woman who did have coronavirus-like symptoms also said that providing free testing was a good idea. Mónica Torres, who recently lost a loved one to Covid-19, said she believed that the virus was becoming more prevalent in the community.
A total of 10 people tested positive at the macro-kiosk outside the Etiopía station, Reforma reported.
Dr. Mónica Ramírez, a health official in the Benito Juárez borough where the station is located, said that some of those who tested positive “went into denial or even questioned the reliability of the test.”
Authorities also detected 74 new coronavirus cases among just over 500 people who had free rapid tests on Friday at government healthcare centers.
Mexico City health chief Jorge Alfredo Ochoa Morena described the introduction of rapid testing as a “breakthrough.”
“People no longer have to wait several days for their results. Now in 15 or 20 minutes maximum it’s known if a person is positive or negative,” he said.
Ochoa said the macro-kiosks will each perform about 150 rapid tests every day of the week except Sunday. He said that people should only get tested if they have coronavirus-like symptoms or if they are aware they had contact with an infected person.
With the new testing stations now complementing government clinics and smaller health kiosks set up in hotspot neighborhoods of the capital, Mexico City authorities will carry out 10,000 tests per day, the health chief said, explaining that 7,000 will be rapid tests and the other 3,000 will be gold standard PCR tests.
Mexico City leads the country for confirmed coronavirus cases and Covid-19 deaths with 187,229 of the former and 16,870 of the latter. The capital recorded 1,316 new cases and 44 Covid-19 deaths on Sunday.
The national coronavirus case tally is just over 1 million, while more than 101,000 people have officially lost their lives to Covid-19.
Mexico has a very low testing rate compared to most other countries and as a result both case numbers and deaths are widely believed to be much higher than official statistics indicate.