Czech Republic begins free Covid-19 antigen test campaign

Prague, Dec 16 (efe-epa).- The Czech Republic on Wednesday began a program offering antigen tests in a bid to detect and isolate asymptomatic Covid-19 cases amid an uptick of infections in recent weeks.

According to public broadcaster CT24, the free and voluntary tests will be on offer at a network of 216 centers until 15 January. The tests will be administered with the help of the country’s armed forces

Other medical centers and dentist offices have signed up to help in the program, launched by the coalition government in the central European nation.

The health ministry guidelines require that people who want to take the test sign up in advance.

An individual is entitled to one antigen test every five days, and in the eventuality that they test positive, they must take a PCR test, which is more precise.

Any confirmed asymptomatic cases will be told to quarantine to minimize the risk of community transmission.

Czech health authorities logged 7,889 new infections in the last 24 hours, more than a third more than last week.

The mass-testing push follows similar initiatives in Slovakia and Austria.

Austria’s health minister on Monday said that more than 2 million citizens — 23% of the Alpine country’s 8.9 million residents — took part in a mass testing program that revealed 4,200 asymptomatic cases of Covid-19.

The government had hoped that 60% of the country’s population would step forward to take a test, but every federal state recorded lower than expected numbers.

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