Matovic: Mass Testing of Slovak Population or I’ll Resign

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Prime Minister Igor Matovic at a press conference on October 17, 2020 (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, October 17 (TASR) – A mass testing of Slovak population for COVID-19 is going to be carried out soon, a project that the Government has been preparing for over the past three weeks, Prime Minister Igor Matovic (OLaNO) announced at a press conference on Saturday.

If the project fails to take place, Matovic declared he would tender his resignation.

“I’m willing to give up on this (testing), but then I’ll choose my resignation,” said Matovic.

The Prime Minister views the mass testing as the only way to stop the rate of the COVID-19 outbreak from further growth in a situation, when a key coalition partner publicly impugns the epidemiological measures. “I’m afraid that the current protective measures have thus been rendered useless. At any rate, this mass testing cannot hurt, it can only help us.”

The Prime Minister added that if someone within the coalition will attempt to exercise pressure on him to abandon the plan, leaving Slovakia hard-pressed to diagnose the ill with nothing but PCR tests at a snail’s pace, Matovic wouldn’t sign off on it.

It is not yet known whether participation in the mass testing will be mandatory or voluntary.

The testing of Slovaks will take place in the manner similar to elections: testing sites are to be established in about 5,997 election districts, each staffed by a seven-member team that will include also police, military and health personnel. Slovak citizens are expected to show up at the sites with their ID cards.

The population is slated to be tested over two weekends, in a schedule based on alphabetical order so as to prevent the forming of large gatherings. “Testing will be free-of-charge,” added Matovic.

According to preliminary medical expert opinion, children under 10 should be exempted from the project.

The testing will be carried out with antigen tests, 13 million pieces of which have been ordered to that end by the State Material Reserves Administration. The purpose is to uncover the real number of infected in the population, with results due to be available within 15 minutes following the testing.

The tests cost €4 a piece VAT-free on average and were ordered based on results of a public tender.

“The main testing will be held two weeks from now, over Saturday and Sunday (October 31-November 1),” said Matovic, adding that trial testing is going to be launched in the upcoming weekend (October 24-25) in the most high-risk districts of Tvrdosin, Namestovo and Dolny Kubin (all Zilina region).

Matovic claimed that he doesn’t wish to experience a situation that would call for the building of field hospitals and to have doctors put to a choice of whom to treat and who to let die. “If we manage to pull this off, we can set an example for the entire world,” he added.

More information will be released on Sunday, October 18, following an extraordinary session of the Government.