Free antigen testing in the Czech Republic: Here's what you need to know

These FAQs will help you navigate the testing terrain in advance of the holiday season

Samantha Tatro

Written by Samantha Tatro
Published on 16.12.2020 09:31 (updated on 16.12.2020)

The Czech Republic begins free antigen testing today; the date, originally scheduled for Dec. 18 was pushed up two days to Dec. 16 due to overwhelming public interest in testing.

According to health officials transmission within the family is one of the most common ways the disease spreads and one of the primary aims of testing is to help mitigate the spread during the holiday season.

"Anyone who is infected can infect another person two days before the onset of symptoms," said Chief Hygienist Jarmila Rážová at a press conference on Monday adding that, "The mission of testing is to prevent further transmission of the disease."

Minister of Health Jan Blatný said the capacity for testing will be up to 60,000 tests per day -- slots are rapidly filling up with few left before the Christmas holidays.

Note that these tests cannot be used as proof of a negative test for a trip abroad, information confirmed by a spokesperson for FN Motol and reported by Czech news server Denik.

What is an antigen test?

An antigen test is a type of test used to identify certain respiratory pathogens, including influenza viruses and respiratory syncytial virus. A COVID-19 antigen test will be able to tell you if you have the COVID-19 antigen.

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Similar to COVID-19 PCR tests, an antigen test sample is done with a nasopharyngeal swab. The test does not require a laboratory analysis and results are available within 10-15 minutes but can take up to 30 minutes.

How to find a testing point

Choosing a collection point and making a reservation is the first step to getting tested. The Ministry of Health has launched a website (in Czech) that it says should simplify the process. However, early users are reporting that you may not be able to register via the Ministry's site and may in fact have to click through to individual testing points to make a reservation. Places are reportedly filling up rapidly before Christmas.

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Apartment for rent, Flatshare, 17m<sup>2</sup>

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Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 50m<sup>2</sup>

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Apartment for rent, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 90m<sup>2</sup>

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Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 56m<sup>2</sup>

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U Mlýnského kanálu, Praha 8 - Karlín

You can also do a test via your GP's office if they are offering the service; those without internet access can call 1221 to arrange a test or call their doctor's office directly to make a reservation. There are currently an estimated 31 testing points in Prague according to the ministry's map; those include hospitals, clinics, and mobile testing points.

What do you need to bring with you to the testing center?

Anyone with Czech health insurance can get tested. An ID card and Czech health insurance card should be presented at the testing point. A print-out or e-mail proof of reservation confirmation is also necessary and masks must be worn at the collection point.

What happens after you receive the results?

Those who test negative can go home, however, if a test shows up positive and the patient has symptoms, he or she is immediately considered positive and must go into self-isolation. If the antigen test results are positive and the person tested has no symptoms the test results will be verified by a PCR test.

Not all testing stations can perform validation via a PCR test. According to the ministry, the collection center should report the positive result to the hygienic station, which should inform the person who tested positive about the next steps. However, some sources are saying it may be best for the positive tester to call his or her general practitioner or the appropriate hygiene station to report a positive test.

Free testing dates and holiday opening hours

Free testing will last from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15, 2021. Tests can be taken every five days and sampling centers should be open on Dec. 24 for four hours, as well as on Dec. 26. Centers will close Dec. 25 and on Jan. 1, 2021. It's important to check the individual opening hours of a collection point as it has been reported that they can vary widely. You can get multiple tests. However, you need to wait five days between tests.