Slovakia begins mass virus testing in global first

BRATISLAVA (AFP) – Slovakia yesterday began screening its entire population for coronavirus with antigen tests in what would be a global first, but critics have said the plan is poorly thought out.

Some 45,000 medical workers, army and police were deployed to carry out the tests in the European Union (EU) member state of 5.4 million people, collecting swabs at around 5,000 testing points.

“The world will be watching,” Prime Minister Igor Matovic said earlier this week, adding that the measure would save “hundreds of lives”.

Antigen tests give quick results – sometimes within minutes – but are not seen as being as reliable as the PCR test for which nasal swabs have to be sent to a lab for analysis.