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In World First, Slovokia Plans To Test the Entire Country For COVID-19

The BBC reports:

Slovakia has begun an ambitious project to test everyone over the age of 10 for Covid-19, but the president has said she thinks the idea is “unfeasible”.

The operation to test four million people is to last over two weekends. Infections have soared in Slovakia and officials argue the only alternative would be a total lockdown. President Zuzana Caputova called for a rethink of the plan after armed forces chiefs said there were not enough trained health workers to carry it out. So far only 70% of the 20,000 staff needed to administer the nasal swab tests have been recruited, according to the defence minister…

From dawn on Saturday, soldiers and medics were due to fan out across the country, from the vast Petrzalka housing estates of Bratislava, to tiny hamlets in the shadows of the Tatra Mountains, to the mostly Hungarian-speaking towns dotted along the Danube plain…. The plan is to test almost four-fifths of the population, using rapid antigen testing that has an estimated 30% false negative rate. Results will be delivered in a sealed envelope within 30 minutes. “It’s the army’s biggest logistical operation since the country became independent,” said Defence Minister Jaro Nad…

Slovakia’s numbers are far lower but government modelling predicts a catastrophic overload of hospitals by mid-November if nothing is done. “There’s no alternative — it’s either mass testing or harsh lockdown,” Mr Nad told the BBC…. While testing is voluntary, those who refuse must self-isolate for 10 days. Breaking that quarantine will be punished with a hefty fine. A negative test result, however, will serve as a “free pass” from a curfew due to be introduced from Monday…
If it works, other countries might soon follow suit.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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