Görkem ŞEKEROĞLU -TDO- Slovakia on Saturday has begun a programme to test everyone over the age of 10 for coronavirus with antigen tests in what would be the first in anywhere in the world, but critics have said the plan is badly thought out.
Around 45,000 medical workers, army and police have been deployed to carry out the tests in the EU member state of 5.4 million people, collecting swabs at around 5,000 testing points. The massive operation is planned to last over two weekends.
Antigen tests give faster results, sometimes within minutes but are not as reliable as the PCR test for which nasal swabs have to be sent to a lab for analysis.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Igor Matovic had said “The World will be watching,” and also added that the measure would save hundreds of lives. Yet the Slovakian President Caputova commented that she thinks the idea is unfeasible after armed forces chiefs said there were not a sufficient number of trained health workers to carry the tests out.
The Slovak Association of General Practitioners has criticised the government's plan, saying it is ill-prepared. The association said that the "mass concentration of millions of people" at testing sites "is at odds with the recommendations of infectious disease experts to reduce public contacts and mobility as much as possible".
Slovakia would be the first country of its size to organize nationwide testing, although mass testing has taken place in entire Chinese cities. Smaller European states such as Luxembourg and Monaco have also announced mass testing programmes.
On Friday (30 Oct) Slovakia reported a record of 3,363 new daily infections, bringing the total to 55,091. The death toll currently stands at 212.