By Isla Binnie
MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish authorities have requisitioned 2,000 antibody tests procured by wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa (MC:) and intended to check whether employees have been infected with the coronavirus, a labour union spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
Siemens Gamesa began testing some staff last week and had agreed to extend this to the whole workforce, but told employees on Saturday it would not be able comply with its original timetable.
“The company told us that the provider that was going to provide the tests at the optimum time did not have them, because the government requisitioned them,” said Clara Fernandez, spokeswoman for labour union CCOO.
Spanish workers observed strict health protocols to begin returning to factories on Monday after a two-week clampdown, imposed to contain the spread of one of the world’s worst national outbreaks of the virus.
A Siemens Gamesa spokeswoman declined to comment and a government spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
Reuters was not immediately able to ascertain the identity of the provider.
The Spanish government has previously used its powers under a state of emergency to requisition masks and medical supplies from private companies.
Governments have touted coronavirus antibody tests as a way to determine if people have developed immunity through exposure to the virus, potentially allowing them to return to work and ease output-crushing lockdowns without helping the virus to spread.
Spain reported its slowest overnight rate of increases in new cases in almost a month on Tuesday but its overall death toll remained the third-highest in the world at 18,056. tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7
“We understand the health emergency we are in,” Fernandez said. “Will they do the tests? Yes. When? When they have them.”
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