Slovakia carries out Covid mass testing of two-thirds of population

Two-thirds of Slovakia’s population of 5.4 million people were tested for coronavirus over the weekend as part of a programme aimed at making it one of the first countries to test its entire population.

Antigen tests were carried out on 3.625 million people – of whom 38,359, or 1.06%, were found to be positive.

“We have made a great leap forward,” the prime minister, Igor Matovič, told reporters.

“But we should not think that because of this 1%, now all is fine. It is not,” he added. “In reality, up to 2% of our inhabitants might be infected. It is not at all a good situation.”

Slovakia coronavirus cases

Antigen tests give far quicker results than PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) tests, which involve nasal swabs that have to be sent to a laboratory, but they are less reliable.

A further round of tests has been scheduled for next weekend.

Participation is not mandatory but anyone who is not able to produce a negative test certificate if stopped by police could be fined. Anyone who tests positive will have to go immediately into quarantine for 10 days.

Slovakia wants to be one of the first countries in the world to test its entire population. Smaller countries such as Luxembourg have already done so, as have some Chinese cities with larger populations than Slovakia, such as Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated from.

The government has hinted that virus restrictions could be eased once testing is complete, or reinforced if the programme is not carried out in full.

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Like other countries, Slovakia has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, although it is still below the EU average. On Monday, it reported 1,883 new cases, bringing the tally to 61,829.

A total of 219 people in Slovakia have died from the virus.

The programme has come under criticism for being poorly thought through, however. he Slovak Association of General Practitioners said the high concentration of people at testing sites was “at odds with the recommendations of infectious disease experts”.



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