Situation worsens before the year’s end, cabinet to discuss tougher restrictions

Some may come into force from midnight.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME)

The number of new daily coronavirus-positive cases has broken a new record, as PCR testing has revealed 6,315 positives (out of nearly 22,000 tests), and the antigen tests 5,954 positive cases (out of more than 74,600 tests) on December 30.

At the same time, 2,659 people are in hospital, with 220 being on lung ventilation.

The situation in hospitals is getting worse, and the lockdown measures and curfew imposed just before Christmas do not seem to be improving the current state, both experts and several hospitals across the country say, pointing to the falling number of free COVID-19 beds.

The cabinet is expected to discuss the stricter measures today in the afternoon. PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) said that some restrictions may come into force as soon as from midnight, and others should come in the following days.

It is possible family visits, including those in bubbles, will be forbidden.

Number of hospitalised patients to surge

The situation in Nitra is so serious that its Mayor Marek Hattas announced on December 30 that they do not have enough cooling boxes at cemeteries, so they have had to order a cooling trailer for dead bodies.

The district crisis staff in Nitra decided that the local hospital will be allowed to summon doctors and other healthcare workers from outpatient departments to help.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry ordered selected university, faculty and district hospitals to provide only urgent health care until January 31, 2021. It pointed to the rising number of COVID-19 patients which will soon pass the 3,000 threshold.

As there is huge pressure on the 155 emergency line, rescuers have called for a hard personal lockdown.

Related articleCabinet prolongs the national emergency by 40 days Read more 

“We’re on the edge with our services,” the rescue service’s operational centre said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

They are asking that people only call when someone’s life and health are endangered. Otherwise, people should contact their general practitioner.

Calls for tougher restrictions

In the current situation, several calls have been made for the current restrictions to be toughened up.

The council of experts recommends mostly the limitation of mobility through fewer exceptions to the curfew.

It points to the critical situation in hospitals. If the current trend continues, there may be up to 4,500 COVID-19 patients in hospitals by January 11, which significantly exceeds their capacity.

“Many of them are already working on the edge,” experts said, as quoted by TASR.

Related articleSome testing sites launch online booking of appointment Read more 

To solve the situation, it is necessary to extend the national emergency and curfew, they added.

Experts hope that thanks to vaccination, it will be possible to gradually start lifting the measures.

Support for restrictions

Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) will suggest that the cabinet toughen up the measures from January 4, 2021. The effect of the current measures cannot be reliably evaluated, but they seem to be ineffective, he said, as reported by TASR.

Although he admits the situation is critical, he considers the scenario of the council of experts with 4,500 hospitalised patients by January 11 to be unrealistic. As he said, the Institute for Health Analyses, running under his department, is reckoning with 3,000-3,500 COVID-19 patients.

Krajčí failed to say when he will propose stricter measures and what measures would be imposed, though. If the cabinet followed its COVID automat alert system, approved in mid-December, the country would be in the last, most critical stage. This would mean stricter curfew, closed shops (apart from the essential ones), as well as closed ski centres and hotels. Also kindergartens and all primary and secondary schools will have to be closed, the Sme daily reported.

Stricter measures have already been supported by President Zuzana Čaputová and Investments Minister Veronika Remišová, who also leads the junior coalition party Za Ľudí.

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