Slovakia's blanket testing strategy

Roughly three million of Slovakia's five million inhabitants were tested for coronavirus on the weekend. The unusual initiative, which is to be continued next weekend, attracted international attention, as it could potentially serve as a model for other countries. The reactions in Slovakia's press vary widely.

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Új Szó (SK) /

A reprieve

Overall, Új Szó approves of the operation, albeit with certain reservations:

“If we take into account that the rapid tests can capture only one-third of the positive cases because of the five-day window [until the virus can be detected after infection], then the infection rate is 3 percent. That is not encouraging; this number could easily double within a week and continue to increase rapidly. In parallel, the pressure on the health system as well as the numbers of deaths would rise. [Mass testing] has alleviated this danger for the time being: several thousand people who are infected, but have no symptoms, will not continue to spread the virus. Yet the danger of a complete lockdown has not been averted. We can just breathe easier for a moment. ... Our responsible approach this weekend saved many people's lives.”

Denník N (SK) /

A minor miracle

Denník N praises the testing process:

“The fact that millions of people have been tested practically without a hitch is a major success for the government. Prime Minister Igor Matovič is rightly satisfied even though the result is not so much down to his own organisational skills. Rather, he was rescued by those in charge at the local level, volunteers and in part physicians from other countries. Nonetheless the whole initiative amounts to a miracle. However, it says nothing about how successful the tests will be in the struggle against the epidemic. It will be 14 days before we have the actual and reliable results.” (SK) /

The crisis does not justify dictatorial conduct's enthusiasm is lukewarm:

“Many participated in the tests only because they feared coercion. After all, the freedom of those who declined the test is now limited [they are forbidden from going to work for the time being, without compensation]. If there is reason to suspect that the government is creating an environment that violates our rights and freedoms, we must defend them. ... Both the critics of this government and its supporters must understand this. In spite of the crisis situation, the state must work within the legal limits - otherwise it is not a state under the rule of law, but a dictatorship.”