Students and educators will be required to present a negative 48-hour rapid test for coronavirus upon return to school, the health ministry announced on Friday, as part of the new draft roadmap to manage the pandemic.

Depending on the results of that test, health authorities will decide future measures in schools. It is yet to be determined how this decision will be implemented.

Meanwhile, the use of face masks in indoor spaces remains a requirement for adults and children aged 12 and older. This includes schools, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said, explaining that scientists support the masks and at the present time it cannot be removed.

He added that news regarding the new Covid-19 vaccines is expected in the next two to three weeks.

“According to scientists we may have a new wave in the winter, and we have to be prepared,” Hadjipantela said.

The minister was speaking after a meeting with the advisory scientific committee during which they submitted their recommendations on how to manage the coronavirus pandemic in the coming months.

The measures listed are just draft proposals and have not been finalised.

He said experts discussed at length the issue of long covid as well as hospitalised coronavirus patients.

Medical services will analyse the reasons why some patients are hospitalised, and if the reasons are, for example, that they have not been administered antiviral medications in time, the minister said.

For her part, member of the advisory committee Dr Zoe Dorothea Pana said the roadmap is a framework that will “highlight the existing work and strengthen the future work, using what we have at hand in each phase of the pandemic”.

“This is the general framework and I think it is fully in line with the recommendations that have been given by both the European Commission and the European Agency for Disease Control and Prevention on the pillars that they must focus on in the future.”

Regarding hospitalisations, Pana said “we now have the experience, the protocols, the medications, additional tools in managing in a balanced way the patients who have more severe disease,” adding that the health ministry continues to increase the number of beds available for those patients.

Reports suggested the roadmap is divided into pillars, concerning among others the strategy to increase the vaccination coverage of the population and the epidemiological surveillance system including testing and the management of cases in hospitals.

Earlier in the day, health ministry spokesman Constantinos Athanasiou said that the draft has already been sent to the involved parties, including the state health services organisation (Okypy), as well as to the members of the advisory committee, for evaluation and submission of proposals to approve a final strategy.

The decisions will be finalised in a scheduled meeting on August 30, before they are submitted to cabinet for approval.