Slovakia will start massive mass testing today, Saturday, in which the entire population of the country will be tested for the coronavirus. Slovakia is the first country in the world to test the entire population.
About 45,000 health professionals as well as police and the military have been sent to perform the tests. There are 5.4 million people living in Slovakia, all of whom are to be tested in about 5,000 test sites.
– The whole world is following us. This is our path to freedom, Prime Minister of Slovakia Igor Matovic says of the ambitious plan. According to him, the measure could save hundreds of lives.
Antigen tests designed for use in Slovakia give results quickly, even in minutes, but are not as reliable as nasal PCR tests.
Participation in testing is not mandatory, but police may impose substantial fines on individuals who are unable to demonstrate a negative test result while moving in a public place. Those who test positive will be quarantined for 10 days.
Small European countries, such as Luxembourg and Monaco, have also announced plans for mass testing of the population.
The plan is not without a nut. Among other things, finding enough nurses and doctors for all testing sites has become a problem. In a pilot project in four provinces, the queues were two hours long.
The Slovak Association of General Practitioners has criticized the plan. According to the federation, concentrating millions of people on testing sites is at war with the recommendations of infectious disease experts. According to them, people-to-people contacts and movement in public places should be avoided.
A total of 55,091 coronary infections have been reported in Slovakia. The death toll is 212. On Friday, a record 3,363 new infections were diagnosed in the country.