News digest: Number of hospitalised patients breaks records, lockdown still an option

Some restaurants have opened to protest restrictions. Ministers introduce new defence and security strategy.

Ivan Korčok and Jaroslav Naď presented Security and Defence Strategy. (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Tuesday, December 8, 2020. Today in Slovakia 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.

Christmas-time lockdown?

The coronavirus situation in Slovakia is worsening again, experts and politicians agree. The government has not toughened up restrictions yet, neither has it introduced solutions to the current situation.

PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) is talking about two options: either lockdown or lockdown with exceptions, meaning that those who would have a negative test result would have some exceptions.

The central crisis staff has met on December 8 afternoon to negotiate the measures. Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) is expected to submit a traffic lights warning system, which would impose lockdown for the hardest-hit districts if approved.

Chief hygienist Ján Mikas said before the central crisis staff meeting that stricter measures are necessary to avoid hospitals overcrowded with patients.

Interior Minister Roman Mikulec (OĽaNO) said that if people do not limit the mobility on their own, hard lockdown will be necessary.

The Slovak Spectator will bring you more details after the conclusions of the meeting are known.

Read more:Christmas in Slovakia: Family visits only with a negative test result or maybe not at all Read more 

Other coronavirus-related news:

  • There are 1,949 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus out of 10,245 tests as of December 7.
  • The situation in hospitals is serious, as the number of hospitalised patients suffering from COVID-19 has exceeded 2,000, said Health Minister Marek Krajčí. “We have never had so many patients in hospitals,” he added during a talk show broadcast by Radio Expres.
  • The current pandemic situation in Bratislava is serious and it is radically worsening, said Mayor Matúš Vallo. Positive cases have been identified also in nursing homes, most in Petržalka’s Domov Tretieho Veku where 76 of 248 clients tested positive.
  • Vaccine against COVID-19 will be available in Slovakia in mid-January, not in December. The common population could get vaccinated at the turn of April and May, according to Health Minister Marek Krajčí.
  • The private school BESST in Trnava, which participated in the weekend antigen testing that should have helped older children return to schools, is switching to distance learning after only one day of in-person classes. The reason is that there are seven teachers in isolation.
  • Entrepreneurs will be protected against the economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis also after January 1, 2021, but with stricter rules. This stems from the law on the temporary protection of entrepreneurs in financial difficulties approved by 135 MPs.

British media report on the Slovak testing

Mass testing for COVID-19 decrease the infection rate in Slovakia by about 60 percent in one week, UK researchers say.

The Telegraph, The Guardian and Daily Mail have reported on the study by scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, along with the Slovak Health Ministry.

Researchers considered the results of the tests and estimated the effect they had on shrinking the country's outbreak, the daily wrote.

In statistical models, they said, the outbreak did not shrink as much as it did in reality when they took out the effect of mass testing, regardless of how well the lockdown worked, so they concluded that the testing scheme helped to bring cases down.

Daily Mail says mass COVID testing scheme led to 'rapid' 60 percent reduction in cases Read more 

Picture of the day:

About 40 restaurants opened despite the current restrictions and worsening epidemiological situation, Miroslav Heredoš from the We Fight for Our Gastro initiative said. Hygienists recommend people avoiding such places and respecting the rules. Meanwhile, the Mladí Proti Fašizmu (Young Against Fascism) website informed that Heredoš is a supporter of Milan Mazurek (far-right ĽSNS) and a participant of the anti-governmental protests.

Feature story for today:

Christmas tram spreads holiday spirit in the streets of Bratislava

Bratislava public transport company decided to support artists with letting them design Christmas tram from inside and also outside.

The tram is back in the streets of capital, but this year, a ride is not free. It operates as line 1 from Bratislava Main Station to Štúrovo Námestie Square. Do not forget to buy a ticket.

Read more:Christmas tram spreads holiday spirit in the streets of Bratislava Read more 

In other news

  • Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee) and Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) presented new Security and Defence Strategy, which reacts on traditional and new security threats, such as cyber security and disinformation. The documents have to be approved by both the cabinet and the parliament.
  • People in Slovakia handed in 204 illegally-kept guns and 3,448 pieces of ammunition in November, the first month of a gun amnesty.
  • Judge Roman Púchovský was suspended from the service at the Specialised Criminal Court, meaning that he will not decide on who will be prosecuted in jail and who outside of it, and approve wiretapping and house raids. Púchovský was mentioned in the Judas case as a friend of detained former police chief Milan Lučanský.
  • The Let’s Stop the Corruption Foundation non-governmental organisation filed a motion to the Regional Public Health Authority in Bratislava and the Interior Ministry to investigate St Michael's Hospital in Bratislava. It follows the media reports about the visits of Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár during his hospitalisation, despite the ban.
  • The National Criminal Agency (NAKA) detained 10 people in the raid aimed at drugs from Trenčín Region and Žilina Region. Six have been already charged with drug-related crimes, facing 15 to 20 years in prison.
  • The advisory board of the Council of the EU did not recommend Martina Jánošíková for an additional judge of the General Court in Luxembourg. Slovakia is struggling to fill in the post since 2016.
  • Norbert Bödör used to be on phone with Robert Fico, Andrej Danko and Béla Bugár, the three coalition partners in the previous government. This stems from a testimony of Bernard Slobodník, and has been meanwhile confirmed by Danko. (Aktuality)

Also on today:

Multinational giant purchases Slovak Slido Read more 

Bardejov: Kiss my gargoyle statue! (from our archive) Read more 

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