Directed, programmed and generalised testing are the three axes of intervention of the plan to promote the operationalisation of the testing strategy in Portugal, which aims to contribute to the control of the epidemic of Covid-19 in the country.

The plan drawn up by the 'Task Force for Testing', which is already being implemented, aims at the "early identification of asymptomatic cases in an active way, as a result of intensified and targeted testing, complemented by the creation of all testing opportunities, with inter-institutional involvement".

"All tests should be performed and interpreted according to a diagnostic or screening purpose, based on a risk analysis that allows early identification of cases and minimises the risk of transmission in the community," says the plan.

According to the plan, "targeted testing" is dependent on the epidemiological situation", namely incidence and growth trend of the epidemic, positivity and other indicators, having as "main purpose" screening in community and occupational contexts.

This type of testing includes educational establishments, mass events, sports clubs, travel/transport, services, municipal companies or others, according to the plan of the 'Task Force for Testing' led by the president of the National Institute of Health Ricardo Jorge (INSA), Fernando Almeida.

In turn, the programmed testing does not depend on the local epidemiological situation and provides testing actions, previously scheduled and determined, in places or situations of higher risk of transmission or vulnerability, with systematic screening programmes.

Programmed screenings for vulnerable populations, such as in nursing homes, long-term care units or migrant reception centres, but also screenings in health units, and in occupational and community settings such as companies, schools, sports clubs or mass events, are part of this testing.

At mass events, which can include religious celebrations and leisure activities, "health risks are enhanced by the high concentration of participants from different regions or countries and the increased number of interpersonal contacts".

In this sense, testing prior to participation in these events may represent "an opportunity" to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 and should, therefore, "be properly evaluated during the preparation of the event and during its realisation".

Generalised testing, on the other hand, which is also independent of the context and epidemiological situation, aims to "maximise testing opportunities, in various contexts, under the concept of opportunistic testing, such as among asymptomatic users with a face-to-face appointment at health units, large shopping centres, railway stations, among others.

"The essence of generalised testing also focuses on the exercise of active citizenship, voluntary, informed and responsible, so testing on the initiative of the citizen seems appropriate," reads the document.

The plan also defines "a set of guidelines and work proposals, materialised in a planned strategy, massive and systematic testing, inclusive and participatory," says the 'task force' in a statement.

The strategy involves all citizens and organisations and services from various sectors (public, social and private), to detect early situations with potential risk of outbreaks and thus break the chains of transmission, it adds.