Nationwide testing - an ambitious plan with an uncertain result

Antigen tests to be used work on patients with symptoms.

(Source: TASR)

What measures will apply in testing rooms, who is responsible for the disposal of biological waste and who should inform inhabitants about what time they should go take their tests.

These are just a few of the 53 questions that Miroslav Kollár, mayor of the western Slovak town of Hlohovec and MP of the junior coalition party Za Ľudí, wrote down after he learned municipalities will be involved in the organisation of the nationwide coronavirus testing project.

Hlohovec is far from the Orava region and the Bardejov district, both geographically and in terms of the spread of infection. Unlike the hardest-hit regions, the nationwide testing should be launched in this location on October 30, which still gives the organisers more than a week to prepare.

“We are ready to help but the time is closing in,” Kollár wrote on Facebook.

Here's what the across-the-board coronavirus testing should look like Read more 

Slovakia learned about the government's intention to test the entire population only on October 17. Since then, the plan has gobbled up all public discussion about the coronavirus.

Some experts said it is not the greatest idea, others cannot evaluate it since they know too little about the plan. After five days of ongoing discussions, PM Igor Matovič conceded that maybe it is too late for mass testing and lockdown will be inevitable. The reason is the “critical situation” in the hospitals. The government claims they would like to avoid the collapse of the healthcare system.

The pandemic committee, an advisory board of the crisis staff, agreed that Slovakia should see a combination of both measures, a mild lockdown and nationwide testing, said Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď on October 22. The final word is up to the crisis staff.

“It is a very ambitious plan with an uncertain result,” epidemiologist Alexandra Bražinová said about the nationwide testing. She mentioned that it is logistically extremely demanding to prepare sampling and testing places, as well as sufficient healthcare and other staff to ensure the success of the whole operation.

Meanwhile, municipalities in Orava and around Bardejov, part of the pilot phase of the testing taking place this weekend of October 23 to 25, also lack information and answers.

The Union of Towns that unites towns and cities around Slovakia, including Bratislava and Košice, stated that preparation for nationwide testing is unfeasible due to "objective causes," especially because municipalities lack orders.

It makes some sense, but we know too little

However, if the operation is successful, meaning that it will reveal the greatest possible number of infected people and they will be isolated, it will slow down the spread of the coronavirus infection in Slovakia for a while.

“The question is whether all infected people caught in the nationwide testing will have to register and be epidemiologically examined; that would be a very large burden for regional health authorities,” Bražinová told The Slovak Spectator.

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