Slovakia tightens anti-coronavirus lockdown, extends it till Feb 7

PRAGUE, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The Slovak government tightened lockdown of the country and extended it till Feb. 7, as it launched week-long testing campaign in an attempt to tame the coronavirus epidemic.

The lockdown, declared on New Year’s Eve until Jan. 24, includes a ban on visits between families, travel beyond one’s district or public church services.

Slovaks are now asked to get tested from Monday until Jan. 26. After that, only people with a negative result will be able to go to their workplace, the rest will have to stay home.

“We decided to go for the ideal combination, a lockdown with massive testing,” Prime Minister Igor Matovic said at a televised press conference.

A negative test result will be also required for trips to the country or going to the post office. The tighter rules can be lifted earlier than Feb. 7 if the number of hospitalised patients drops below 2,500.

As of Sunday, 3,067 people were hospitalised with the COVID-19 illness in the European Union member country of 5.5 million. The number of deaths rose to 3,474.

Reporting by Robert Muller; editing by Diane Craft