The ordinance published in Diário da República, which extends the existing regime, covers the entire population, says the Ministry of Health in a statement.

"The co-payment of tests, even in a scenario where more than 86% of the population is already fully vaccinated, is intended to facilitate access by citizens in situations where the tests are indicated", according to norm 019/2020 of the General Directorate of Health regarding the national testing strategy for SARS-CoV-2, it adds.

The Ministry of Health explains that the reactivation of this exceptional and temporary regime “aims to contribute to the detection and early isolation of cases, to prevent and mitigate the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on health services and on vulnerable populations, as well as to reduce and control the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection and monitor the epidemiological evolution of covid-19".

The ordinance sets the maximum amount that the government will pay to pharmacies for each test carried out at €10 e, which will be free for users. The free tests are limited to four per month and per user, and the tests can only take place in pharmacies and laboratories duly authorised by the Health Regulatory Authority, as was the case before.

The list of participating entities will be published on the NHS portal and on the website of the national drug authority (Infarmed).

The Government explains the reactivation of this public health protection measure, which runs until December 31, “without prejudice to its possible extension”, with the current epidemiological situation: “it is important to intensify the performance of tests for the detection of SARS-CoV- 2, progressively and proportionately to the risk, which contribute to the reinforcement of the control of the covid-19 pandemic”.

This year, around 48,000 tests were carried out a day, on average, more than 70 percent of the total diagnostic tests carried out since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the data released on November 6.