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Slovakia tightens lockdown and launches mass testing campaign

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Bratislava, Slovakia – Slovakia has tightened and extended its lockdown until February 7, on top of launching a countrywide testing campaign to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19, authorities announced on Sunday following an extraordinary government meeting.

Slovakia extends lockdown and kick-starts testing campaign

The lockdown, initially introduced on New Year’s Eve until January 24, includes tough restrictions on the free movement of people, including a ban on traveling beyond one’s district of residence.

At the same time, the government of Prime Minister Igor Matovic launched a nine-day, non-mandatory countrywide testing campaign, urging every citizens to get tested for the novel coronavirus, from today til January 26.

“We decided to go for the ideal combination, a lockdown with massive testing,” the Slovak PM said. “Let’s save lives together.”

The countrywide screening scheme should be followed by targeted testing campaigns in the districts where the infection rate and share of positive results are the highest.

Negative COVID test required to go to work

After the end of the mass-testing campaign, only people able to show a negative test result – either PCR or antigen – will be allowed to go to their workplace, travel to the countryside or visit the post office.

Only a handful of activities – including buying groceries, going to the doctor or walking one’s pet in a 1 km-radius – won’t require a negative COVID-19 test.

Officials added that these restrictions may be lifted before February 7 if the number of hospitalized patients drops below 2,500 (it stood slightly above 3,000 on Sunday).

Slovakia’s Health Minister Marek Krajci expressed hopes that the combination of anti-coronavirus measures with mass testing will allow authorities to lift some restrictions at the start of February, including the reopening of schools.

In November, Slovakia had become the first European country to test the majority of its adult population in a highly-debated mass-testing campaign, whose effective impact in slowing down the spread of the virus remains subject to controversy.

Main photo credit: Office of the government of the Slovak Republic

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