Bratislava, Slovakia – Slovakia has tested more than 3.6 million people for COVID-19 over the past week-end, becoming the first country of its size to test a large majority of its adult population for the novel coronavirus.
Nearly 2.6 million people were tested on Saturday alone.
In total, health authorities registered more than 38,000 positive results using the rapid antigen tests, for an infection rate of approximately 1.06%.
Welcoming the relative success of the much-anticipated campaign, Prime Minister Igor Matovic nevertheless urged citizens, particularly those who tested negative, to continue to comply with all the COVID-19 restrictions and regulations and act responsibly.
Although expressing serious doubts regarding the plan’s feasibility last week, President Zuzana Caputova on Sunday praised the mass-testing and everyone who took part in it, further noting that, despite all the difficulties and diverging views, “we’re able to unite as a community”.
Anyone who tested positive or has refused to take part in the nation-wide scheme will have to self-isolate for a period of 10 days. People who tested negative, on the other hand, will be exempted from the curfew and are authorized to go out for essential trips.
Unveiled last month, the Slovak government’s plan to test its entire population between the ages of 10 and 65 was seen as the last solution to avoid enforcing a strict lockdown as coronavirus cases continue to soar in the small Central European nation of 5.5 million.
It’s still unclear whether or not a second testing phase will take place next week-end as originally planned. On Sunday, PM Matovic said that he was consulting with experts to decide on the course of action, and that a repeated mass-testing would likely take place, except in the least affected districts.
Commentators have pointed out that the experiment in Slovakia could serve as an example for larger European countries to launch more localized blanket testing, including at a city or regional level.
Main photo credit: Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic