News digest: Another nationwide testing could take place before the holidays

Economy Minister Richard Sulík assigned to buy 16 million rapid antigen tests. Ambassadors to strategic countries receive presidential credentials. Post office issues special Christmas stamp.

Testing with rapid antigen tests is available around Slovakia, PM Matovič wants to test the whole nation again in December. (Source: TASR)

This is Today in Slovakia, your daily overview of news from Slovakia on Thursday, November 19, 2020. If you enjoy this free-of-charge service and want to support our work, the best way to do it is to buy our online subscription. Thank you.

More testing instead of Christmas markets

Prime Minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) did not rule out that Slovakia may need to go on a tougher lockdown in December if the curve does not maintain the decreasing trend that has been apparent in early November.

But the prime minister is willing to apply his alternative solution, another round of nationwide testing. He told the Thursday press conference that nationwide testing may occur before Christmas, and more details will be revealed soon.

In order to have enough antigen tests for the testing, Economy Minister Richard Sulík has been put in charge of purchasing another 16 million rapid tests.

Slovakia continues to have problems with the reporting of the infection numbers. Experts and even the government admit that the now-available antigen testing deforms the PCR test results which are still used as a reference for forming the epidemic picture of the country and for the potential easing of measures.

The Health Ministry promised the first data about PCR and antigen testing results should be delivered this Friday. Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) said that people who test positive with the rapid tests are not going to be automatically sent for PCR testing, because it is not "scientifically founded" and it is "wasted money".

This weekend, the fourth round of November testing is taking place in 458 selected municipalities that reported a more than 1 percent infection rate during the latest testing. The cabinet approved 8,000 soldiers to be ready to take part in an organisational role. The cabinet said only people who live in those municipalities should attend testing, in order to provide a picture of how infected these municipalities are.

Related articleNo screening in cinemas despite eased measures. Pools and fitness centres remain closed too Read more 

Slovakia sends new ambassadors to key postings

President Zuzana Čaputová handed out credentials to new ambassadors on November 19. The changes include Moscow, Washington, London and some major international organisations.

The postings of the new ambassadors to some of the major world powers and most important international institutions are in the security and economic interests of Slovakia, the president said.

Feature story for today:

The whole world will soon come to know the name of director PETER BEBJAK. His latest film Správa (The Report) will be screened throughout the USA, and people in France, New Zealand and other countries around the world, will also have an opportunity to watch it. This is a rarity for a Slovak film.

The story of two Jews who fled Auschwitz in order to report the brutality and mass murder that was happening there, has recently been chosen by the Slovak Film and Television Academy as the best candidate for the Oscars.

Interview with Peter BebjakI wonder why a film about the heroism of Wetzler and Vrba has not been made in the West Read more 

In other news:

  • Finance Minister Eduard Heger picked Jiří Žežulka as the new president of the Financial Administration, the authority overseeing taxes. Read more about the former head of the Czech Financial Administration here.
  • Hearings of candidates for general prosecutor are taking place in parliament today and tomorrow. "The hearings are important for us to find out how brave these candidates are, what their moral profile is but also their concept and vision of the work of the prosecution service, including their ideas for filling the posts of heads of departments," said Justice Minister Mária Kolíková. (TASR)
  • Lack of blood donors: The Health Ministry and the National Transfusion Service have called on active blood donors and first-time donors to donate blood, regardless of their blood group. Slovak hospitals have been lacking blood since the outbreak of the pandemic, the transfusion service estimates they lack about 1,000 donors. Here is more info about blood donation in Slovakia.
  • Interpol detained a 29-year-old Slovak man in Cyprus, accused of the particularly serious crime of fraud committed by an organised group. He was transported to Slovakia and placed in custody. (TASR)

Picture of the day:

The Slovenská Pošta postal service issued the 2020 Christmas stamp on November 13. It depicts the Christmas star in the traditional blueprint technique. The designer of the stamp is Adrian Ferda.

To find out more about the blueprint technique in Slovakia, read this story from our archive.

Do not miss on today:

This year’s Black Friday will be different. It may be better than the last Read more  Bumpy, twisted, but always beautiful. A tip for tree-lovers around Bratislava Read more 

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