Slovakia plans mass testing and tighter Covid-19 restrictions


dpa/GNA – Slovakia will impose tighter restrictions on movement and introduce further mass testing in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Igor Matovic announced late Sunday.

The mass testing will be carried out across the country from Monday, Matovic said, after a special government meeting.

Residents will need a negative test result to be able to travel to work. Until now, leaving your home for work had been one of the general exemptions to the country’s stay-at-home orders.
Health Minister Marek Krajci said the “voluntary” mass testing is planned until January 26.

The tightening of exit restrictions for people without a negative Covid-19 test result will be in place from January 27 until February 7.

An internal government dispute over the usefulness of nation-wide mass testing was the main reason the four-party coalition was unable to last week agree on a package of measures, according to media reports.

Slovakia, with a population of 5.5 million, drew worldwide attention in November by introducing mass testing of almost all residents over the age of 10. Matovic had initially said this would be an alternative to a lockdown, but then acknowledged the growing danger of hospitals becoming overloaded.

The medical association and other health organizations have criticized the inefficient use of health system resources, as the mass testing of mostly healthy people puts further pressure on the extremely strained system.

They say that it would be better to test hotspots and risk groups, and concentrate more on preparing for a Covid-19 vaccination.

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