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Coronavirus: Slovakia starts testing entire population after surge in COVID-19 cases

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Coronavirus: Slovakia starts testing entire population after surge in COVID-19 cases
Copyright  Frank Franklin II/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press
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Slovakia has launched its campaign to test its entire adult population in a bid to slow the spread of the second wave of deadly COVID-19 pandemic currently ripping through Europe.

The mass testing campaign started on Saturday with 5,000 testing sites dotted around country and involves healthcare workers from Hungary and Austria but long queues were still a common sight.

"I'm here from around 7 o'clock so I've been waiting for around three hours. I've just been tested," said one man.

People had different strategies for the long wait.

"I'm enjoying the nice weather here. And wondering if this is the right thing. But we think yes, this is a good policy, and we want to save our nation," said a woman queuing with her cup of coffee in the rain.

The antigen test provides results in just 15 minutes. The mass testing campaign is voluntary so those who do not take part have to quarantine for ten days.

The eastern European nation of 5.5 million aims to become the first country to test its entire adult population.

In the small village of Veľké Úľany, some 50 km from capital Bratislava, turnout was high.

Ján Duránsky, head official, Galanta District said, "They come and come and come for the testing. As many people as possible, to be able to stop this epidemic in Slovakia."

But some have criticised the government's handling of the programme which was organised in just ten days. František Gőgh, Mayor, Veľké Úľany said, "The information we received about the testing changed day by day. This made the preparations a bit harder in the villages."

It follows a rapid rise of coronavirus infections in the country since the end of summer and around 3,000 confirmed cases daily in the last few weeks.

According to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Slovakia has recorded 57,664 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 219 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.