Slovakia to ease COVID curbs as it hails mass testing success


Slovakia will open theatres, cinemas and churches at half capacity from Monday and let fitness centres and pools operate with limited visitors as it starts easing coronavirus curbs, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said. Slovakia’s ice hockey and soccer leagues will also restart, without fans, Matovic said on Facebook on Friday.

The country of 5.5 million is one of the first to ease restrictions as a second wave of coronavirus infections hits Europe. Along with strict curbs, the government has sought to control the pandemic using mass testing, which officials have called a success.

Matovic has said widespread testing – using antigen tests that are faster but less accurate than standard PCR tests – had helped cut the proportion of infections by more than half. Slovakia has reported 83,796 total coronavirus cases via standard testing since the pandemic started, including 2,024 new infections on Thursday and close to its seven-day median figure. That is down from a record daily tally of more than 3,000 in late October.

In total, 491 people have died from COVID-19, a fraction of other countries in Western Europe and almost 12 times fewer than in the neighbouring Czech Republic, which has seen Europe’s highest per-capita infection and death rates in recent weeks.


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