STA, 21 December 2020 - Voluntary trial mass testing will start on Tuesday in a number of municipalities, Marija Magajne of the Health Ministry told the government briefing on Monday. Exact locations and hours are yet to be announced. Results of rapid tests that will be used during the testing are from today deemed equivalent to those produced by PCR tests.
The Health Ministry said in a release that rapid testing can start in Ljubljana, Celje, Maribor, Novo Mesto, Nova Gorica, Murska Sobota, Slovenj Gradec, Koper, Kranj, Velenje, Ptuj, Lenart and Sevnica.
A greater number of testing sites will be provided in areas with the worst epidemiological situation, while there is also a possibility of conducting antigen tests in smaller municipalities as part of the trial, Marija Magajne of the Health Ministry told the government briefing on Monday.
The screening will be free-of-charge. Those who wish to get tested are required to bring their IDs and health insurance cards. They are also urged to maintain physical distance and wear a face mask.
So far, it is not necessary to book a test but that might change if many people are interested to get tested.
It is already clear that in Ljubljana, the testing will take place in Congress Square.
Residents of small municipalities with no testing sites will be allowed to travel between municipalities if they want to get tested.
Antigen tests deliver results in approximately 15 minutes. The results will be entered into the national patient register since a new definition of a positive test enters into force as of today - a rapid test result is now as good as a result delivered by a molecular or PCR test.
Those who will test positive using antigen tests will be thus automatically added to the daily tally of positive cases.
So far, such persons in care homes and health institutions, where systemic testing has been performed, have had to confirm their infection using a molecular test.
The display of daily recorded infections is to be amended as well - on top of the number of PCR tests and cases, there will be a special category showing the total of rapid tests and those that will have returned positive.
If both tests produce a positive result, only one will be taken into account and displayed, Magajne added.
Mass testing will be held until 24 December. After the holidays, rapid tests will be used among specific groups of residents, including those in education and child care.
Magajne noted that there was enough antigen tests. They are arriving in Slovenia gradually and are stored by suppliers.
The team that will be in charge of the testing in Ljubljana has already received the first batch of 1,000 tests.
Between 30 and 40 persons will be tested per hour. The rest of the tests are expected to be delivered later. An additional 100,000 tests are expected to arrive in Slovenia until the end of the week or the beginning of next year.
Magajne also said that 52 testing providers had responded to the ministry's open call. They could provide 130 mobile teams, which should be enough, according to her.
Prime Minister Janez Janša said this was not promotional testing but the start of the implementation of a plan adopted a while ago.
As part of the plan, anyone who thinks they are infected has the opportunity to get tested with rapid tests and check the result with a PCR test, he said on the sidelines of a meeting of senior officials.
The start of the mass testing was scheduled for today in Ljubljana, but was delayed by a day.