Slovakia on Friday began the process of testing most of its population for the novel coronavirus, in a one-of-a-kind mass programme to run over the next three weekends.
Four districts along the Polish border will be tested first, with all residents older than 10 to be subjected to a rapid antigen test under the direction of the Defence Ministry.
Authorities plan to test the rest of the country on the following two weekends between Friday and Sunday.
The army is deploying around 8,000 soldiers, but there is a lack of medically trained personnel.
The Health Minister, Marek Krajci, therefore, called on medical students to participate as volunteers.
Prime Minister Igor Matovic has previously said participation in the tests is voluntary, though those not able to produce a negative test in the days after the mass testing programme will be required to go into a 10-day forced quarantine.
President Zuzana Caputova has criticized this rule, saying: “If you threaten sanctions, you cannot say it is voluntary.”
Slovakia confirmed 2,581 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, with 19 additional deaths, bringing the total to 134.
Strict restrictions will apply throughout the country from Saturday. EU member Slovakia has a population of some 5.5 million.