Slovakia swabbed more than a million residents for the coronavirus Saturday, becoming the first smaller nation to try to slow the infection by testing nearly all its population in a single weekend.
Lines snaked around 5,000 testing sites — manned by at least 40,000 medical workers, volunteers and soldiers, Reuters reported.
Everyone over 10 in the country of 5.5 million must take the free antigen swab test before Monday or they’ll be quarantined, even though the government calls the testing voluntary.
“We didn’t think twice, we were clear since the beginning we would go even if we didn’t have to,” said Katarina Hegerova, 73, after waiting in line with her husband for over an hour — in the rain — at a site outside Trencin, a city north of the capital Bratislava.
The mass testing is how Prime Minister Igor Matovic hopes he can a strict lockdown.
Slovakia reported 2,573 new COVID-19 cases Saturday through molecular PCR testing, raising the total to 57,664. The death toll stands at 219.
The antigen swab test gives results in just 30 minutes but is less accurate than the PCR method, experts said.
Opponents of mass testing point out antigen tests have a large number of false results. A Czech study found antigen tests identified only around 70% of infections detected by PCR tests.
Slovak officials have planned a second round of testing for next week.
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