Slovakia starts pilot phase of world's first mass testing programme

By bne IntelliNews October 26, 2020

Slovakia has become the first country in the world to start the pilot stage of mass testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) in two of the most severely affected districts. 

A total of 140,945 people had themselves tested on October 23-25, confirmed defence ministry spokeswoman Martina Koval Kakascikova, adding that the testing has detected 5,594 infectious cases overall (3.97%), the Slovak News Agency reported on October 25. 

"Everyone in Slovakia expected that the [event attendance] would be much worse. We can be all extremely satisfied,” said Prime Minister Igor Matovic during the In Politics discussion programme on Slovak TV TA3 on Sunday, stressing that people, however, should not only rely on the state in this critical situation and should lend a hand by volunteering in the operation. 

The highest share of positive results was revealed in the Tvrdosin District with 4.85%, followed by the Namestovo District with 4.77%, the Bardejov District with 3.25% and the Dolny Kubin District with 3.12%.

On October 24, the country confirmed a record-high number of new coronavirus infections via PCR testing, 3,042 cases. "Slovakia’s new absolute record, which represents a 94-percent increase compared to the previous Saturday, stressed the PM on his Facebook page.

"It was the right move to implement lockdown measures in order to lower the mobility of people, which in turn decreases the probability of spreading the infection," he said, quoted by the news agency, adding that the current lockdown measures allowing millions of people to work are insufficient to soften the curve of daily cases. 

In PM’s view, mass testing therefore has to play a crucial role in containing the infection. He stressed that it won’t be enough to rely on the effects of the current soft lockdown combined with mass testing. He warned that people can become infectious even after they test negative, they should not feel falsely safe. 

“It can be a turning point in the currently negative trend,” chief hygienist Jan Mikas commented, quoted by the daily Sme.

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