News digest: Health care staff still lacking, president asks for amends

Slovakia is preparing to launch the nationwide testing on Saturday morning, but the government admitted they still need hundreds of health care staff. Kotleba violates quarantine and hospitals in the north are full.

The Bratislava Self-Governing Region started testing its staff on October 30. (Source: SITA)

This is your overview of news that happened in Slovakia on Friday, October 30, 2020. This is a free-of-charge service for our readers. If you want to support us, become a subscriber and get access to more detailed news and interesting feature stories from Slovakia.

President to PM: Reconsider curfew

President Zuzana Čaputová said it will be impossible to carry out the nationwide testing as planned in her statement to the media on Friday before noon, after she met with the head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, General Daniel Zmeko, as well as the commander of the Joint Responsibility operation.

The official information from Friday morning is that there is only enough health care staff to fill about 60 percent of the testing teams. Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď later said that by 16:00, 72 percent of the testing teams were complete.

The president called on the government to reconsider the strict curfew for people who do not manage to get tested. PM Igor Matovič said earlier that a total lockdown is the only alternative.

Read more:Testing is impossible to carry out as planned, president says Read more 

PM Matovič wrote on Facebook before the president's statement that the health care staff available could only fill 63 percent of the testing sites, but he said that the government trusts that the Slovak health care professionals will step up and apply during the day.

Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO), whose department is responsible for preparing the testing, said they will respond to the situation if anybody is not tested due to the lack of time. The cabinet is ready to meet on November 1, he added during a talk show broadcast by Radio Expres.

He added that he is disappointed by the president’s statement.

Related article:Global media on testing: Slovak government tests COVID and patience of the nation Read more 

Some hospitals in the north are now full

The Sme daily addressed 16 hospitals, mostly in the north of Slovakia, and reports that the situation is "serious".

The Žilina Faculty Hospital worries it will need to apply "military medicine". The hospital in Bojnice has warned that if they need to reprofile more beds for COVID patients, they will not be able to perform surgery for the several hundreds of inhabitants of the region it normally covers.

As of Thursday, October 29, Slovakia reported over 1,200 patients in hospitals with COVID.

Related articleHospitals in the north are overwhelmed, Žilina worst off Read more 

A letter to our readers

For a foreigner living in Slovakia, there is yet another concern. The language that the authorities use when speaking about the nationwide testing, and the way it is organised without people who do not speak Slovak in mind, are enough for any foreigner to feel excluded, despite the repeated statements that foreigners and diplomats in Slovakia are encouraged to take part in the testing.

If you have lived here for a while, this sadly might not surprise you. The pandemic and the ensuing crisis that we are living through sharpens the contours of all the problems that Slovakia still has, including the country's lack of effort in integrating foreigners.

Related articleThe big test is upon us. What are we to do? Read more 

Picture of the day:

St Michael’s Hospital in Bratislava started testing its own employees, patients, and the employees of the Interior Ministry and Defence Ministry on October 30.

In other news

  • Far-right ĽSNS leader Marian Kotleba, who tested positive for the coronavirus on October 22, may have violated quarantine. He was photographed outside his home, driving his car to the party headquarters where he reportedly met with other ĽSNS members. (Nový Čas)
  • Programmer Peter Sekan launched the website. People will be able to report the state of the queues during the nationwide testing there.
  • The Police Corps report they have 11,000 officers ready to help with the nationwide testing - 5,600 on Saturday and almost 5,700 on Sunday. (SITA)
  • Austria will provide 50 military medics to help Slovakia with the nationwide testing. Some 200 medical workers are said to come from Hungary.

  • The Specialised Criminal Court will decide on the custody for those detained during the Gale police operation on Saturday, October 31. On October 29, the Constitutional Court approved the proposal to take judges Jarmila Urbancová and David Lindtner into custody, but disagreed with the custody of Supreme Court Justice Jozef Kolcun.
  • Shops in Slovakia will be closed on November 1, which is a national holiday (All Saints’ Day).
  • The Foreigners’ Police departments will remain closed until November 8. Those who have booked an appointment for the days they are closed are asked to book a new date electronically.
  • The European Commission decided to refer Slovakia to the Court of Justice of the European Union for not complying with the EU rules on the recognition of professional qualifications.

Weekend reads and tips for our subscribers:

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