Gov’t Tasks Military with Mass Testing of Slovak Population

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Extraordinary session of the Government held on October 18, 2020 (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, October 18 (TASR) – The Slovak Armed Forces will prepare and carry out an across-the-board mass testing of Slovak population for COVID-19 in November in an operation codenamed Shared Responsibility, with all available soldiers, police officers and firefighters to be despatched to the project, Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad (OLaNO) stated after an extraordinary session of the Government on Sunday.

“What we are preparing now is unprecedented in the world,” said Nad.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic (OLaNO) is confident that the military can organise the project successfully in terms of logistics. “In order for this to be successful, we need the greatest turnout possible,” he claimed, adding that otherwise Slovakia can expect similar measures such as those seen in Israel and Paris. “Lockdown is one option and the double testing of the population the only alternative.”

According to Economy Minister Richard Sulik (SaS), it is important to know who has contracted the virus and who hasn’t. “Those (who are) infected will need to spend time in quarantine. I fully support this,” he said.

House Chair Boris Kollar (We Are Family) believes that across-the-board testing will arouse great wrath of the Slovaks and he understands that, but it’s the last-resort option to prevent complete lockdown of the country. Kollar also called on the opposition to stop polarising the public and join forces with the coalition in the time of adversity.

Matovic noted that there was a long and spirited debate at the Government’s session as to whether to make the mass testing mandatory or voluntary, with the definitive decision not taken yet. The aim is to identify as many virus spreaders as possible.

The trial testing is scheduled for October 23-25 in districts with the most critical COVID-19 situation, whereas the main testing will take place on weekends of October 30-November 1 and November 6-8. Children below 10 will be exempted from the project.

The testing will be carried out in strict compliance with all epidemiological measures by integrated teams, led by the Slovak Armed Forces, and consisting also of police and medical personnel.

The locations and dates of testing will be announced via RTVS public broadcaster, TASR and on the website https://korona.gov.sk/.