News digest: Coronavirus restrictions will be toughened up

Cabinet turns down the proposal of pandemic commission. President Čaputová meets with Pope Francis.

The ski resort in Donovaly.The ski resort in Donovaly. (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Monday, December 14, 2020. For a more detailed overview of the current events, read Last Week in Slovakia published earlier today.
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Former police chief Lučanský did not want to commit suicide

Former Police Corps president Milan Lučanský had to be hospitalised after injuring his eye while exercising in the Prešov prison. He did not try to commit suicide like several media outlets have suggested, Justice Minister Mária Kolíková (Za Ľudí) told the December 13 press conference.

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The initial information from the Týždeň weekly also suggested that the ex-police chief had been attacked, but this turned out to be incorrect as well.

Lučanský is currently in the prison hospital in Trenčín, where he was transported after undergoing surgery in Ružomberok.

The former police chief was detained as part of the Judáš (Judas) police operation and faces corruption-related charges.

Related article Former police chief Lučanský hospitalised following exercise injury Read more 

Most doctors encounter disinformation

As many as 71 percent of doctors encounter disinformation in their everyday work at least once a week, while 38 percent has to deal with it every day.

At the same time, 60 percent of doctors consider health disinformation a serious problem as they decrease trust in doctors or make patients oppose them during consultations. As many as 35 percent of doctors said that disinformation makes patients reject treatment or doctor's recommendation, while 41 percent said they make patients reject vaccination.

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This stems from a survey carried out by the Behavioural and Experimental Economy Team (beet) of the Health Ministry attended by 1,974 doctors in September 2020, focused on their perception of the disinformation about health, how often they encounter it and how they impact the behaviour of their patients.

Related article Nearly three quarters of doctors regularly encounter disinformation Read more 

Stricter measures come into force

Hotels and ski centres have to follow stricter rules as of today. This means that every visitor older than 10 years of age will be required to show a negative rapid or PCR test result no older than 72 hours.

Moreover, it will not be possible in hotels to eat and drink in shared spaces.

In terms of ski lifts, only one person or people from the same household will be allowed to be on one chairlift or in one cable car.

The cabinet is currently discussing stricter measures and lockdown. Although they did not pass the proposal of the pandemic commission presented on December 11, the restrictions will be toughened up from Monday, December 21, Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) admitted.

He refused to reveal more details, claiming that they still need to discuss the technicalities. The plan is expected to be revealed on Wednesday, December 16.

Meanwhile, the cabinet also discussed new COVID-19 traffic lights system submitted by Krajčí. Its final version is also expected to be revealed later.

What is clear for now are criteria for announcing nationwide measures:

  • to have more than 1,500 hospitalised COVID-19 patients;
  • the reproduction number is higher than 1.1;
  • the number of new daily cases exceeds 1,000.

Make your own lockdown before you go see your relatives.

Health Minister Marek Krajčí

In other coronavirus developments

  • 505 people were positively diagnosed with the coronavirus disease in Slovakia on December 13, with only roughly 2,900 tests being carried out. The death toll increased by 30 to a total of 1,205.
  • The number of COVID-19 positive patients in hospitals exceeded 2,000. Of them, 140 require intensive care and further 142 artificial lung ventilation.
  • Agriculture Minister Ján Mičovský (OĽaNO) tested positive for the coronavirus and is currently staying in home isolation. The ministry’s employees who were in touch with him will also work from home.
  • There will be no half-year school holiday next year. The second half-year will start on Monday, February 1, 2021, the Education Ministry said.
  • Businesses in gastronomy introduced six measures to save the sector. These include state aid, which should secure total wage compensation without needless bureaucracy; state guarantees for loans for business in gastronomy; the rent subsidies without the participation of a landlord; direct financial support of eating and drinking in companies; clear conditions for reopening; and long-term reduction of VAT to 10 percent. State Secretary of the Transport Ministry Jaroslav Kmeť said before the December 14 cabinet session that it would not be possible to meet all conditions.

Picture of the day:

President Zuzana Čaputová met with Pope Francis on December 14 during her official visit to the Vatican. The two discussed the current situation in the world and Slovakia, as well as the role and status of women during the crisis. The president brought four Advent candles from recycled material, a painting of the Virgin Mary, and 10,000 PCR tests developed by Slovak scientists as a gift. She also invited the pope to visit Slovakia.

Feature story for today:

Largest in Business rankings report unexpected findings about firms in Slovakia

More than 500 companies filled out the questionnaire for the Largest in Business yearbook. The latest edition is available in our online shop.

The Largest in Business rankings include 50 different categories, created in cooperation with the SME daily and the Finstat company. The key parameter for these rankings was revenue, but in some categories, it was a combination of several criteria (e.g. turnover, number of employees, etc.). Within the financial sector, the ranking was typically based on asset value.

In the article, the names of all top-ranked companies are published. The detailed results with comprehensive information about all listed companies are available in the Largest in Business yearbook.

Related article Largest in Business rankings bring unexpected findings about firms in Slovakia Read more 

In other news

  • Slovakia can use nuclear energy to meet the EU goal to reduce emissions by 55 percent by 2030, as Slovakia negotiated at the recent summit in Brussels. Its key ally in the discussion was France, PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) said.
  • The tempo of annual increase in consumer prices in Slovakia slowed down to 1.5 percent, down from 1.6 percent in October. It is the second slowest growth this year. In monthly terms, the prices rose only by 0.1 percent, as in the previous month. (Statistics Office)
  • President Zuzana Čaputová has vetoed the law changing conditions for free lunches. She said that the draft amendment would omit up to 47,000 children from poor environments.
  • Union will purchase the Poštová Poisťovňa insurance company, in which Poštová Banka controls a 80-percent stock, and Slovenská Pošta the remaining 20-percent share.
  • The members of the Criminal Office of the Financial Administration together with customs officers and tax officers are involved in the Fénix (Phoenix) operation, taking place in a warehouse in Nitra Region, where several companies trading with mineral oils are registered. The Financial Administration identified high-risky VAT activities and suspicions of carousel fraud.
  • The election of a new Police Corps president will take place on January 4, at 10:00. The candidates are acting police chief Peter Kovařík and head of the special purpose unit of the Police Corps Presidium, Štefan Hamran.
  • The public hearing of candidates for the special prosecutor post will probably take place on February 1 and 2, 2021. The special prosecutor can then be elected by February 12.

Also on today:

Related article Distrust in PM Matovič continues to grow, Economy Minister Sulík more trustworthy Read more 

Related article Slovak writer wins the European Book Prize 2020 Read more 

Related article ‘Miletička’ brings back childhood memories for the Austrian ambassador Read more 

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