Bratislava, Slovakia – After reporting an increase in daily COVID-19 cases last week, Slovakia is set to tighten the rules for citizens arriving from “high-risk countries”, local media reported.
The government of Prime Minister Igor Matovic could, among other things, pass a measure in fast-track proceedings that would allow sending an SMS to people returning from red “high-risk countries” reminding them of their obligation to contact their local public health office.
Anyone failing to meet that requirement would face a hefty fine of up to €5,000.
MPs are also set to discuss higher fines for people refusing to comply with self-quarantine regulations upon their return.
While stating that he “firmly believes” Slovakia will be able to contain a much-feared second wave of COVID-19, Prime Minister Matovic urged the population to remain cautious and continue to act responsibly, including in their planning of holidays abroad.
“It’s important for people to realize that they must protect themselves” while spending time abroad, warned Slovakia’s Chief Hygienist Jan Mikas, including in countries categorized as “low-risk”.
According to a study by the Banska Bystrica regional branch of the National Public Health Authority, around half of all the new coronavirus cases confirmed in June were imported from abroad, mainly from the Czech Republic, Ukraine and the U.K.
The authors of the study, epidemiologists Maria Avdicova and Jana Namesna, also pointed out that a vast majority of these cases were asymptomatic, and that patients showed either no or very mild symptoms of COVID-19 – making it all the more difficult to identify and contain possible new outbreaks without mass testing.