News digest: Mass testing on a weekly basis, six exceptions for Holý

Trnava has a cooling trailer for dead bodies. Ryanair suspends flights to Bratislava until late March.

PM Igor Matovič at January 11 press conference.PM Igor Matovič at January 11 press conference. (Source: SITA)

This is the overview of news that happened in Slovakia on Monday, January 11, 2021. For a deeper insight into current affairs, see our Last Week in Slovakia, published earlier today.
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Mass testing to break the curve

Given the critical situation in Slovakia, affected by the high number of hospitalised patients and new coronavirus mutation, the current lockdown measures may not be enough to contain the disease. As a result, the cabinet has proposed holding mass testing from next weekend at least until the end of February.

“It’s not possible to impose an even stricter lockdown,” PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) said. “The only other measure to break the curve is mass testing.”

Related articleCabinet proposes mass testing to break the curve Read more 

The plan is to hold nationwide testing the next weekend (i.e. January 23-24) and then in selected districts on a weekly basis, until the reproduction number drops to 0.5.

The cabinet will now convene meetings between the representatives of selected ministries, municipalities and regions to talk about details.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people participated in the mass testing organised in the Nitra district, Košice and Púchov the past weekend. The positivity rate differed between 1 and 2 percent.

Related articleThousands of people got tested during the weekend Read more 

Other coronavirus-related developments

  • The number of deaths caused by COVID-19 exceeded 3,000 on January 10. See more detailed statistics here.
  • The Public Health Authority granted nearly 9,000 individual exceptions from rules for crossing the borders between April and December 2020, also to ministers Ján Budaj (OĽaNO), Richard Sulík (SaS), Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee), Ján Mičovský (OĽaNO), and Deputy PM Štefan Holý (Sme Rodina). Holý officially received the exceptions for November 20 and 27, December 4, 11 and 18, and one for January 8, 2021, with the last being withdrawn later. The deputy PM travelled freely from the UK, so did the new strain.
  • MPs will convene on January 12 for an unscheduled session to confirm the national emergency that the government has declared for 40 days on December 29.
  • Former elite Slovak tennis player Dominika Cibulková and her husband were vaccinated at Kramáre hospital in advance last week, which caused havoc among the public.
  • Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár (Sme Rodina) confirmed that the MPs will be vaccinated soon. He recommends the younger deputies to yield the vaccine to more endangered groups.
  • The Central Military Hospital in Ružomberok launched the vaccination of its employees against the coronavirus. It has 3,900 doses at disposal.
  • Japan and Ireland dropped from the list of safe countries on January 11 due to the serious situation in these countries. See the current green list here.
  • The General Prosecutor’s Office will check the purchase of 1 million RaPiGen antigen tests worth €3.9 million by the Administration of State Material Reserves. The Košice-based company Juhapharm responded that it supplied quality tests to the state.
  • State secretary of the Finance Ministry, Marcel Klimek, signed two budgetary measures to help businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis. €250 million will be allocated within the First Aid+ programme, and €18 million as part of the SOS programme.

Austrian minister resigns after plagiarism allegations

Austrian Labour Minister Christine Aschbacher resigned from her post after doubts about the quality of her final theses emerged. She completed one of them, for which she later received a PhD degree, at the Slovak University of Technology (STU) in Bratislava.

Asbacher studied at STU’s Faculty of Materials Science and Technology in Trnava. She wrote her thesis in German and defended it last August, when she already held the ministerial post and the country was continuing to deal with the coronavirus, the Sme daily reported.

Related articleAustrian minister resigns after plagiarising thesis at a Slovak school Read more 

Picture of the day

Trnava has become the second Slovak town (after Nitra) to have a cooling trailer for dead bodies.

Feature story for today:

There is a saying that alcoholics and drug addicts must hit so-called “rock bottom” — the absolute lowest point possible — before they are willing to change. American politics, hopefully, most probably, hit that point on January 6.

Ever wondered what happens when he media becomes entirely motivated by profit? Or when symbolism and marketing replaces all political content? What's the natural end of 40 years of propaganda insisting that the government and the state are incapable of doing anything effectively?

The answer to all the questions: Donald Trump, and delusional lunatics storming the US Capitol building in Halloween costumes to take selfies.

Read the opinion piece by Ben Cunningham.

Related articleOnce you hit rock bottom, the only way is up Read more 

In other news

  • Pavol Rusko remains in custody after the Supreme Court senate turned down his complaint against the decision. The Supreme Court will deal with the appeal in the forged promissory notes case on January 12 and 13. The proceeding will not be open for the public due to the current pandemic situation.
  • The Education Ministry will allocate €6 million from its own reserves. Half of the sum will go to the digitalisation, particularly grades one-four of primary schools, and €2 million will be given to school cafeterias.
  • Seok Bong Kim became new CEO of the Žilina-based carmaker Kia Motors Slovakia on January 1, 2021.
  • Irish low-cost airline Ryanair will not operate flights between Bratislava and Dublin, Manchester and London-Standsted at least until late March. The next flights are scheduled for March 28 for now.
  • In November 2020, the manufacture of transport equipment (the strongest component of industry) was above the level reported in the same month of 2019 for the fourth time in 2020. At the same time, the growth in November was the highest since January 2020. A year-on-year decline was reflected only in six of 15 components of industry.
  • The decline in construction output slowed down in November 2020 to single digits, which is the sector’s second-best result since the coronavirus outbreak in March of the same year. Construction output in Slovakia in November 2020 was lower by 9 percent year-on-year, the pace of decline was the slowest in the last eight months and the volume of construction output reached the highest value of €534.5 million.
  • State-run passenger carrier ZSSK will not operate 28 trains between Senec and the station in the Petržalka borough in the coming two weeks. The main reasons are lockdown, the low number of passengers, and high number of its sick employees.
  • Slovak tennis player Filip Polášek and Croatian Ivan Dodig advanced to the ATP doubles finals in Antalya.

Also on today:

Related articlePursuing green thinking Read more 

Related articleNew 360-degree photos display the best of Liptov Read more 

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