The weekly testing of children aged from four in preschool which began on Monday has been slammed by parents.

Parent groups have opposed the measure on grounds that having to take the children to testing sites rather than a unit being available on site as for primary schools was a hassle and called for a meeting with the ministry to allow self-tests by parents at home.

President of the Pancyprian Organisation of Preschool Parents Yiannos Ioannou also expressed concern that once-weekly testing would be fear-inducing for the children and ineffective, as it does not guarantee the child not getting infected during the week.

The position of the parents, which has been put forward for several weeks now without response, is that self-testing kits would be preferable and would also allow parents to test their children with greater frequency, Ioannou said.

Speaking on Monday, Health Minister Michallis Hadjipantelas acknowledged there have been problems introducing the measure in kindergartens but that he had not been fully informed of the details.

He said when new measures are implemented, “it is only logical that that there are problems”.

He assured, however, that these would be solved one by one through dialogue and good will.

The ministry of health said on Sunday that no-one would have to pay for the tests but parents are expected to take their child to a ministry testing site to carry one out.

It suggested that each school unit pick a day for children to get tested.

All children were allowed into schools on Monday regardless of whether or not they have had a test, health ministry spokesman Konstantinos Athanasiou said.

Fully vaccinated children and those who have had Covid within the last 90 days do not need to have a test.

The Organisation of Private Preschools was more positive.

Head of the organisation Laura Irakleous said the children would only be subjected to three tests between the start and current end date announced for the measure.

Asked if whether private kindergartens would refuse entry to an untested child, she replied, “No private preschool teacher would turn away a child” as this would be a traumatic experience for the child.

Head of primary teacher’s union Poed Myria Vassiliou said testing of pre-schoolers had been supported and demanded by teachers for some time, as the testing contributed to a sense of safety among children and teachers at school, as well as enabling stronger mitigation of the pandemic’s course by the state.