Slovakia's nationwide testing may prevent lockdown
Authorities in Slovakia are hoping the rollout of a nationwide coronavirus testing scheme may help the country avoid a second national lockdown. Testing will be conducted over the next two weekends.
Epidemiologist Alexandra Brazinova says while the scheme is voluntary, those who choose not to get tested will have to instead self-isolate for 10 days: "Everybody who needs to go to work, or needs to do shopping, they need to be tested because they'll need to have the result of the test as proof – anytime they go somewhere."
Slovakia is already under a partial lockdown, requiring people to stay at home apart from for work, exercise or essential shopping trips. Indoor dining at cafes and restaurants is banned, and venues including fitness clubs and theaters have been shut.
"If this works – the partial lockdown plus testing, that's supposed to find as many infected people as possible – then we will avoid the national lockdown," said Brazinova. "But we will know only after one or two weeks."
Like many European countries, Slovakia has seen a resurgence of coronavirus cases after a summer of loosened restrictions. Authorities are hoping to avoid a repeat of the tough measures which were imposed during the peak of the country's first outbreak earlier this year – which pushed the economy into a sharp contraction.
"There are people who are not happy and complain about all the restrictions," said Brazinova, "but I would say the majority understand that the situation is really serious."
A pilot testing scheme has already been trialed in four of the country's worst-hit regions – and it found an infection rate of just below 4 percent of those tested.