Free COVID Tests for Czechs to Start on December 18

mass testing czech republic

The Czech Republic should begin offering free antigen tests for COVID-19 for all who want them from December 18, Health Minister Jan Blatny was quoted as saying in an interview on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Tuesday he wanted free testing on a voluntary basis before Christmas, expanding the use of antigen tests, which are faster and logistically easier than standard PCR (swab) tests but less accurate.

“The idea is very simple: during the first three weeks in December, when we will all go shopping, some of us will likely get infected… that should show around Christmas,” Blatny told news website.

Read: The Czech Republic Has Ordered 5.5 Million COVID-19 Vaccines

The risk level was moved on Monday from the fifth, or highest, rung on the government’s coronavirus danger scale, to the fourth. That means restaurants, some schools, and most shops remain closed but may reopen as soon as next week if current trends continue.

Blatny has said the government will meet on Sunday to decide on further easing.

The Czech Republic reported 5,854 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. In total, 502,534 cases have been detected since the pandemic started. There are 78,203 active cases currently.

Read: Shops and Restaurants, Get Ready, “You Will Probably Open on Monday”

The number of hospitalized patients has increased to 5,497, but still remained well below the peak of more than 8,000 in early November.

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