BERLIN -- Germany will start charging for rapid COVID-19 tests that were previously free, though vulnerable groups will be exempt from the fee.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Friday that starting July 1 the rapid tests widely available at centers across Germany will cost citizens 3 euros ($3.16) each, with the rest subsidized by the government.
The tests will remain free for people who can prove they belong to vulnerable groups, for visitors of care homes and hospitals, and for small children.
The planned end to free tests at the end of June has raised concerns that Germany might experience an undetected rise in coronavirus cases over the coming months as people unwittingly spread the virus.
Lauterbach said the government has calculated that subsidies for the tests will cost some 2.6 billion euros in the second half of the year — about a third of what it paid in the same period of 2021.
Germany on Friday recorded over 108,000 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, and 90 deaths.