News digest: Situation in Nitra is worsening dramatically, new COVID-19 hospital in Galanta should help

A commission to investigate former police chief’s death was established. Schools will not be opened next week.

Nitra calls for hard lockdown. (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news that happened in Slovakia on Monday, January 4, 2021. For a deeper insight into the current affairs, read our Last Week in Slovakia, published earlier today.
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A commission should investigate Lučanský’s suicide

Justice Minister Mária Kolíková (Za Ľudí) has confirmed the establishment of a commission that will look into the suicide of ex-police chief Milan Lučanský, who died in late December.

It will also investigate the previous incident earlier in December in which Lučanský injured his eye, requiring surgery.

The commission will have 17 members, and the coalition and opposition will have three representatives each. Representatives of the Presidential Palace, media and participants from abroad will also join the committee.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary defence and security committee will meet on January 7 to discuss the injuries and death of Lučanský. It was initiated by ex-interior minister Denisa Saková.

The Smer party, under whose rule Lučanský took the top police post, also wants the investigation to be attended by EU representatives.

Related articleA newly-formed committee will look into Lučanský’s suicide Read more 

Situation in Nitra is critical

“The situation in Nitra remains critical,” Mayor Marek Hattas said after meeting with the district crisis staff, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “The number of infected people is rising, and we’ve become the worst district in Slovakia in the past seven days.”

He also compared the current developments to the situation the Orava region had to face in autumn.

To slow down the spread of the disease, the members of the district crisis staff propose a hard lockdown, including restricting the operation of production companies in the entire district, opening the kindergartens only for children of people working in critical infrastructure, and limiting the number of people in shops. All those suggestions need to be approved by higher-instance authorities.

The town also confirmed mass testing for the upcoming weekend.

Related articleSituation in Nitra is critical. Some call for total lockdown Read more 

Other coronavirus-related developments

  • Slovakia broke another record in the number of coronavirus-related deaths, exceeding 200. See more recent statistics here.
  • Schools will not open next week. The in-person classes of grades one to four of primary schools and kindergartens should open only for children whose parents work in critical infrastructure, others will attend distance learning. Children will probably return to kindergartens and grades one to four of primary schools on January 18, after testing, according to the Education Ministry's plan.
  • The second hospital for coronavirus-positive patients only was opened in Galanta, to help overburdened Nitra. It belongs to the network of private Penta hospitals. Patients from Galanta with other diagnoses will be moved to Trnava, Nitra, Topoľčany, Nové Zámky and Bratislava.
  • Slovakia may have problems with funerals soon. The places to keep dead bodies in both hospitals and funeral homes are running short, and some bodies even have to be moved to other districts, said Ladislav Kríž, head of the Slovak Association of Funeral and Cremation Services.
  • Although 36 percent of people feel endangered by the coronavirus, they are less careful, according to a poll carried out by MNFORCE, the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Seesame in December 2020 on 1,000 respondents. Only about one-fifth of respondents limited their contact with others.
  • It is now possible for healthcare and nursing home staff to register for the vaccination against the coronavirus via an online form.
  • Pfizer is expected to deliver a further 76,000 vaccines against the coronavirus to Slovakia on Monday and Tuesday.
Related articleSome churches in Orava remained open despite ban Read more 

Picture of the day:

Petra Vlhová has recorded her fourth victory this season after winning the women's World Cup slalom race in Zagreb.

Feature story for today:

In mid-October, the EC presented the Renovation Wave initiative, which highlights the importance of buildings in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The objective is to at least double the annual energy renovation rate of residential and non-residential buildings by 2030 and to foster extensive energy renovations.

Mobilising forces at all levels towards these goals will result in the renovation of 35 million building units by 2030.

However, Slovakia lags behind in the renovation of family houses and public buildings.

Related articleRenewing buildings is a way to cope with the climate crisis Read more 

In other news

  • The Council of Prosecutors will nominate Peter Kysel for special prosecutor. It preferred him over prosecutor Ján Šanta.
  • The Foreigners’ Police will stay closed until January 10. Everybody with a booked appointment before this date needs to reserve it again via the electronic system.
  • The Interior Ministry has changed the opening hours of all its client centres, district authorities and some district police headquarters. They will be open only before noon.
  • The selection committee recommended both candidates for the post of Police Corps president, Petr Kovařík and Štefan Hamran, to be submitted for the hearing before the parliamentary defence and security committee. The committee should subsequently recommend one to the Interior Ministry.
  • The funeral of former first lady of Slovakia, Emília Kováčová, who died in late December 2020, will be held this week. On the day of the funeral, the Presidential Palace will hang a black flag between 8:00 and 17:00, and the members of the guard of honour will lay a wreath to her grave.
  • Firefighters reported fewer interventions during New Year’s Eve celebrations than in previous year. Their total number fell by 36 to 102, while the number of fires dropped by 61 to 39. A majority of the 27 fires caused by fireworks and firecrackers were reported in Bratislava Region and Žilina Region.
  • The state budget deficit amounted to €7.758 billion last year, which is over €4 billion less than the projected deficit at €11.953 billion.
  • A new state strategic industrial park will be built in Rimavská Sobota (Banská Bystrica Region) and will provide 500 new jobs.
  • Minimum social security contributions for the self-employed went up at the beginning of January.

Disclaimer: The Penta financial group has a minority share in Petit Press, the publisher of the Sme daily and the co-owner of The Slovak Spectator.

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