Slovakia to Repeat Nationwide Mass Virus Testing, Premier Says

Slovakia will repeat nationwide Covid-19 mass testing in December as the first run of the unprecedented operation succeeded in containing the pandemic, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said.

His cabinet on Thursday agreed to purchase 16 million rapid antibody tests. The east European Union member recently tested two-thirds of its citizens, some of them twice, uncovering about 1% infection rate. This weekend, all residents of the most affected 458 villages and towns will be screened for a third time.

It’s “a very efficient intervention, which replaces lockdown and has significantly reduced the number of new cases,” Matovic told reporters. “We need to gain courage and do it again.”

Mass testing is gaining support on the continent struck by the pandemic’s second wave and has been recommended by the EU as a cheap weapon against the virus. Inspired by Slovakia, neighboring Austria is bracing for a similar operation after its current lockdown is lifted in December.

Slovakia registered 1,665 new cases on Tuesday, down from the Oct. 29 peak 3,363. Even as daily increases have slowed in the past month, the number of coronavirus-related deaths has risen almost sixfold to 579.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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