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Slovakia may need to screen all citizens for Covid-19 again in December to allow the government to relax pandemic restrictions, Premier Igor Matovic said.
The country of 5.5 million people is doing a second round ofnationwide testing using $5 antibody tests. While less accurate than standard PCR tests, these can give results in 15 minutes.
Two-thirds of citizens participated in the first round a week ago, uncovering a 1.1% infection rate. This weekend’s testing is limited to hard-hit regions covering about half of the population.
“We have stopped the coronavirus surge with the testing, but if we want to have an easier life with restaurants or cinemas open, we will have to make another move,” Matovic said Saturday on public radio.
“There will be a public debate whether the road to more freedom is a lockdown or another mass testing in a few weeks,” he said.
While most European Union countries areresponding to virus’s resurgence with increasingly harsh lockdowns and curfews, mass testing is gaining popularity as a cheap way to isolate the infected with less damage to the economy. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has urged member states to do so, pledging 100 million euros for the tests.
Matovic has pushed through the testing plan despite opposition from medical experts who proposed shutting down most of the economy instead.
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