Slovakia lacks enough antigen tests. The testing intended for the first weekend of December cancelled

Pupils can possibly return to schools on December 7.

Mobile sampling point in KošiceMobile sampling point in Košice (Source: Sme)

The nationwide testing intended for the first weekend of December will not take place. The reason is that the country does not have enough antigen tests, PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) explained.

Economy Minister Richard Sulík (SaS) was assigned with purchasing 16 million antigen tests, in cooperation with Ján Rudolf, head of the state-run Administration of State Material Reserves. The first batch of four million tests was to be delivered by December 2.

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Sulík said, though, that he would have to break the law to fulfil the task.

Matovič stressed that they still want to conduct eight million tests in December.

“We would try to launch the nationwide testing as soon as possible,” he said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. If the nationwide testing is voluntary, it would be wasted money, he added.

Children in schools for two weeks

Unlike the earlier claims that all children could return to schools only after the New Year, the PM now admitted that schools may fully reopen already on December 8.

Education Minister Branislav Gröhling (SaS) was assigned to prepare a plan by November 30. If a school wants to open, it will have to ensure the regular testing of its pupils, teachers and parents.

Read also: Older pupils still stay home. Exception made for those in material need Read more 

Matovič believes that the education minister will come up with a solution that would let pupils and students attend school two weeks before the Christmas holiday. The system should then be also applied in the next months.

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The PM deemed it a return to his idea of community testing.

“The system of community testing, when a school as a community ensures the sampling point, is sustainable, and it will help us survive the difficult winter ahead of us,” he said, as quoted by TASR, adding that it will not deprive children of education.

Gargling tests

Instead of nasopharynx swabs, children could be tested with gargling tests.

The plan is that children would go to school on Friday, December 4, their samples would be taken by gargling, and then sent to the PCR testing.

If they find out that the sample is positive, children from a given classroom would be tested with antigen tests. Matovič estimates that it would concern some 35,000 to 40,000 classrooms.

More mobile testing sites

Read also: Three rounds of testing should take place before Christmas Read more 

At the same time, the number of mobile antigen testing sites will increase, said Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO).

They want to also place the sites in villages or settlements where people have to be tested fast. Outpatient departments can take part, too.

Several million people could be tested by Christmas like this, he added.

“When Economy Minister Richard Sulík announces that he succeeded with the procurement of tests, we could gradually prepare for the period after Christmas,” Naď said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

Code to repay tests

Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) meanwhile explained that his department has created a special code for outpatient doctors, based on which antigen tests would be reimbursed by health insurers.

The delivery of tests should be ensured in cooperation with the armed forces, and outpatient departments can participate in an open call.

“This is not a tender. Anyone who is interested and meets conditions will sign a contract with the Health Ministry,” Krajčí said, as quoted by TASR. The call will also be open for towns and villages with more than 5,000 inhabitants.

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