Coronavirus: PM wants all Slovaks tested

In order to stem the rapidly growing number of coronavirus infections in Slovakia, Prime Minister Igor Matovič wants the entire population apart from children under 10 years to be tested with a rapid antigen test. If his plan is opposed he will resign, he threatened. Does this measure make sense?

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Denik (CZ) /

At least Slovakia has a plan

The Czech newspaper Deník praises Prime Minister Igor Matovič's plan to introduce mass testing for the Slovaks:

“You can accuse Matovič of many things, but at least he gives the Slovaks the feeling that the government is doing something to ensure that the second wave of Corona doesn't turn into a tsunami, leaving thousands dead and a ruined economy. The government is showing that it still has the initiative to deal with the second wave. Unlike Matovič, Czech Prime Minister Babiš comes across as completely clueless. In a situation in which one in four people are testing positive, comprehensive testing is planned at the Czech hotspot Uherské Hradiště. By the time the results are evaluated we'll all have Covid.”

Új Szó (SK) /

Don't expect too much

Testing the whole country won't be a huge success, says Új Szó:

“Ideas regarding nationwide tests have several weak points. One is that the antigen test is far less reliable than the PCR test. And even the PM admits that it would already be a good result if 30 percent of the infected and most of the so-called super spreaders could be identified. ... It won't be difficult for the government to portray the testing of the entire country as a success: if you can identify just a few thousand infected people who are asymptomatic, that's a good result that can buy you time. But with such a strategy we'll be far from winning the fight against the pandemic.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

A snapshot of little value

It's unlikely that Hungary will heed the Slovak prime minister's proposal, Magyar Nemzet believes:

“Clearly you can't test ten million people within a week. And even if you could, it would only create a false and dangerous feeling of security because the result would be no more than a snapshot. ... So you'd have to repeat nationwide tests about once every three days to get a continuous, realistic picture of the level of infection. By March that will have cost 'only' a few hundred billion forints [or several hundred million euros].”

Pravda (SK) /

Matovič leading the country like a patriarch

Pravda accuses the head of government of increasingly authoritarian tendencies:

“Igor Matovič believes that Slovakia is his company and he can do whatever he wants with it. These tendencies of the prime minister increasingly pose a threat to the functioning of our democracy. It is certainly appropriate to consider blanket antigen tests at a time when the virus is spreading uncontrollably and rapidly. But is this the only way to prevent it from spreading? ... The prime minister has not allowed any other opinions to be expressed within the governing coalition, saying that otherwise he would resign. This is blackmail. And it is also extremely irresponsible to threaten to step down when the country is going through a difficult test the likes of which it has never experienced before.” (SK) /

Blanket testing could be helpful

The mass tests demanded by Matovič could actually be a real opportunity, counters:

“Together with other media, we demanded tests and follow-ups throughout the summer. These tests helped us in the first wave of the pandemic. ... So if Prime Minister Matovič is planning comprehensive tests, it should be welcomed. Such an energetic measure could be the deus ex machina that flattens the curve of infections and fatalities. ... The Matovič plan is primarily a political gesture aimed at avoiding much tougher action. If nationwide testing is logistically possible, it could definitely help prevent the economy from being shut down and people from being locked up at home.”