Million line up as Slovakia launches unique nationwide COVID-19 test

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Over a million Slovaks took a coronavirus swab on Saturday as the country launched a huge logistical operation to test most of its population over the weekend to reverse a rise in the pandemic.

Authorities say the ambitious plan to test most citizens aged over 10 among Slovakia’s 5.5 million people is the first of its kind in a country of its size.

It is being watched by other nations looking for ways to slow the virus spread and avoid overwhelming their health systems.

More than 40,000 medics and support teams of soldiers, police, administrative workers and volunteers staffed around 5,000 sites to administer the antigen swab tests.

As of noon (1100 GMT), 828,518 people had been tested and 7,947 were positive, Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad told a news conference.

“We have clearly got to over 1 million (as of 1500 GMT) – people’s interest continues,” Nad said, adding that over 3 million people may be tested over the course of the weekend.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic has said he hoped the plan would identify and quarantine enough infected people to avert a strict lockdown for everyone.

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