Slovak Govt Plenipotentiary for Roma: We don't want closed settlements, testing residents for COVID-19 will prevent repressive measures
Wednesday's decision by the Government of Slovakia to begin testing residents in selected Romani settlements for COVID-19 has sparked a broad range of reactions. Untrue information began to spread like lightning through social media in the Romanes language that the aim of the testing is, on the contrary, to infect the Roma and then intern them.
The newly-appointed Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for Romani Communities, Andrea Bučková, has firmly refuted such reports. According to her, they are sparking panic and are not based on truthful information.
"Yesterday evening untrue information began to be disseminated through Facebook in the Romanes language calling on people to refuse to allow themselves to be tested. That report is misleading and is sparking a general panic," the Plenipotentiary said in a speech broadcast through Facebook yesterday.
"The testing will begin tomorrow," she said yesterday. "However, just those persons who have returned from abroad will be tested. Under no circumstances is this about our completely closing the settlements or quarantining them. On the contrary, by means of this preventive testing we want to prevent repressive measures."
"The aim is not for Romani men and women from those localities to be moved to the training center at Lešť. Our sincere effort is to arrange for adequate care to be provided to people in cases of positive results so that they will not endanger themselves or their loved ones. I am calling on all of you and asking you all to maintain maximum calm. This is about the health of all of us, and the only way we can cope is if we all cooperate with each other," the Plenipotentiary said.
Testing for COVID-19 is being launched by the Government of Slovakia in 33 Romani settlements today and will take place until 9 April. On 10 April the results should be known.
Slovak PM Igor Matovič announced the plan on Wednesday at a press conference together with MEP Peter Pollák and the new Plenipotentiary, both of whom are Romani community members. On that occasion they presented the Government's plan for combating coronavirus in excluded localities inhabited by Romani people.
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