President: Mass Testing Unfeasible, We Need to Reconsider It

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President Zuzana Caputova at a press conference on October 30, 2020 (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, October 30 (TASR) – The goal of the mass testing for COVID-19 is unfeasible, President Zuzana Caputova declared after her Friday meeting with Chief of Slovak Armed Forces General Staff Daniel Zmeko and Joint Responsibility operation commander Ivan Pacho, and urged Prime Minister Igor Matovic (OLaNO) to carry out the testing only in locations with a sufficient number of testing teams.

Caputova also wants the Prime Minister to reconsider the conditions set for the mass testing and make it genuinely voluntary.

“Only about 60 percent of the required testing team personnel is available for both weekend days. This is the state of affairs in less than 24 hours before the launch of the operation. The main reason is the lacking health personnel,” stressed the President. Based on situation updates she had received, Caputova asked the Prime Minister to carry out the testing only in locations with sufficient staffing.

Aside from this, the President wants the terms reconsidered, so as not to punish people who out of objective reasons are unable to get tested. She also pointed out potential adverse effects for the public.

“We can’t allow hundreds of thousands of people to be left in a state of uncertainty. Therefore, I ask that we do away with dividing people into those who have permission slip away to freedom and the other category that couldn’t be tested due to lacking capacity. Such a result in the current situation only works to polarise society and that is the last thing we need now,” said the President.

In response, Economy Minister Richard Sulik (SaS) stated that advice dispensed a few hours before the launch of mass testing, no matter how well-meant, might also be counterproductive.

“It turns out that it was a mistake not to include Slovak President and Slovak Armed Forces’ Commander-in-Chief Zuzana Caputova into such extensive plans. However, with only a few hours prior to the launch of the operation, any advice, no matter how well-meant, might also be counterproductive. The Government has made an extremely difficult decision and currently faces a task of enormous challenge in terms of logistics,” claimed Sulik, adding that all Slovaks must unite at this moment.

The President’s call didn’t sit well with Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Family Milan Krajniak (We Are Family), who declared that  has thrown in the towel and “prematurely signals the retreat”, while the Government is continuing to work to ensure success of the Joint Responsibility mass testing operation.

“A good commander-in-chief should capitulate last, not first,” stated Krajniak. He added that together with transport minister Andrej Dolezal (We Are Family nominee), VsZP state health insurer head Richard Strapko and others are reaching out to health professionals and recruiting them to help with the project. “We hope that there will be enough testing teams during the weekend to allow every person who wishes to take the test to be tested. We will be hard at it, doing our utmost, from now until 7.00 a.m. tomorrow, when all 5,000 testing sites will open,” he said.