Ljubljana – Health Minister Tomaž Gantar has announced Slovenia plans to launch mass testing before the end of the year. His ministry is purchasing half a million rapid antigen tests with another million to follow.
To obtain the tests as quickly as possible, expectedly by 11 December, the ministry has published a shortened tender setting the price at EUR 5, VAT included, but hopes to lower it due the scale of the purchase.
Another million rapid tests would then be purchased in a regular, that is longer, tender procedure, Gantar explained on Thursday.
The ministry’s Covid-19 task force has drafted two scenarios under which mass testing would be carried out.
The first entails testing staff working in critical infrastructure and the second would encompass the general population.
Testing at healthcare organisations and care homes has already started.
Gantar said up to 5% of the infected are discovered with the rapid testing of staff at health organisations and care homes.
The same testing approach could be extended to teachers, the army and police force, perhaps even at companies.
The government would like to carry out mass testing because some infected people have no symptoms and are unaware of being infected, thus further spreading the virus.
The planned mass testing would not require a referral by a GP, who now refers a patient to a PCR testing after he or she has already developed some symptoms.
He said testing would have to be carried out by health staff, with vaccination teams to be secured with a special tender to be published by the ministry while contacts concluded on the basis of it would be exempt from tax.
The minister said such a proposal would be included in the seventh stimulus package.
While the country wanted to obtain a European Commission stance on whether it is sensible to engage in mass testing with rapid tests to avoid possible criticism, Gantar said if the testing was to be launched before the end of the year, some tests had to be purchased without publishing the standard tender, as this was about saving lives.