Slovakia has begun a nation-wide mission to test every citizen over the age of 10 for COVID-19, in an attempt to curb a surge in infections and avoid overwhelming its hospitals without going into full lockdown.
Nearly half its population of 5.5 million took part last Saturday while another 2.58 million took an antigen test on Sunday. While the scheme was free and voluntary, those who refuse to participate were forced to isolate and banned from going to work.
Slovakia has been facing a second wave of COVID-19 cases, with 25,850 or 1% testing positive from its testing efforts last weekend. The country hopes that ramping up its testing capabilities could prevent imposing harsher restrictions.
The country is one of the first to take on an ambitious testing plan of this scale. A second round of extensive testing is set to take place next weekend.
Malta is facing its own issue of rising infections, The number of active COVID-19 cases is up to 1,832 after the country registered 140 new patients and 131 new recoveries yesterday. To curb virus transmission in the community, masks were made mandatory in public, groups have been limited to six and bars have been forced into a month lockdown.
The island is also trying to scale up its testing efforts. Currently around 3,000 tests a day are carried out, but this will increase with the rolling out of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests – similar to what was administered by Slovakia.
However, critics of the antigen test say they are not as accurate as laboratory PCR tests, and may thus return more false negatives and false positives.
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