News digest: Minister adjusts vaccine expectations, mass testing decision still in the balance

Police investigate reported surveillance of journalist. Wolf will be protected all year long.

Mass testing for the coronavirus in the Nitra Synagogue. Mass testing for the coronavirus in the Nitra Synagogue. (Source: TASR)

This is the Friday, January 15, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. Learn about politics, business, and other notable events of the day in Slovakia in less than five minutes. If you like what we are doing and want to support good journalism, buy our online subscription. Thank you.

Check out the Spectacular Slovakia roundup for weekend reading tips.

Testing plans to be decided tomorrow

The government has yet to decide on if and how the nationwide coronavirus testing will take place in Slovakia this January.

The cabinet held a session on Friday, January 15, without any agenda on its public programme. After the whole morning in session, ministers decided to reconvene to make their decision on Saturday.

Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) and Deputy PM Štefan Holý (Sme Rodina) were assigned to prepare the proposal on how the testing should be organised and if it should take place over the whole of Slovakia or only in the most infected regions.

The prime minister originally wanted the first round of testing to take place next weekend.

Related articleThe PM lacks support for his testing plans Read more 

"We have come really close to a rational compromise," Economy Minister Richard Sulík told journalists, as quoted by the Sme daily.

Sulík has had another serious row with PM Igor Matovič over testing this week. While for Matovič, (OĽaNO) nationwide testing is the way to counter the epidemic in the country, experts, scientists and hospital doctors oppose him and say the state should focus on and save the human resources in health care for the vaccination roll out.

The way nationwide testing was done in Slovakia at the turn of October 2020 does not have the support of the coalition partners OĽaNO, either.

Meanwhile, mass testing continues with the second round in the Nitra and Košice districts.

Reports of surveillance provoke concerns abroad

The police have launched a criminal prosecution in the case of investigative reporter Monika Tódová who reported she was being followed.

The Denník N daily reported the surveillance of Tódová on January 13 and pointed to an op-ed piece that the opposition Smer leader Robert Fico sent to the daily, containing references to the private life of Tódová which she alleges must have been obtained through the surveillance.

The International Press Institute has welcomed the decision of the local law enforcement bodies to launch a prosecution in the case, and pointed to the "dark history of the surveillance of journalists in Slovakia".

Featured story for today

Pandemic and migrants put Slovak paramedic's attempt to swim the Strait of Gibraltar on hold Read more 

Although she has a fear of open water, fish and sea animals, she made history as the first Slovak woman to swim the English Channel.

Another goal of paramedic Zuzana Juskova, is to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar, but due to the coronavirus and migrants, she does not know whether this will work out in 2021. Read more in this interview she gave to the Sme daily:

Graph of the day

Lockdown works, Bratislava Mayor Matúš Vallo reports on his Facebook profile. The number of new coronavirus cases in the capital has started dropping.

"That's not a reason to relent in caution and discipline, there's still a long way to go," Vallo wrote. "The good news is the lockdown works and the dropping numbers show just that."

In other news

  • People who do not belong to any priority group will receive the COVID jab in the late summer or early autumn, Health Minister Marek Krajčí said, correcting his earlier statements that this could happen as early as Easter.
  • Due to the virus, the most important part of the winter ski season is over. Ski resorts are fighting to survive.
  • The wolf will definitely be a protected species all year long in Slovakia.
  • The parliament gave a green light to the temporary halt to judicial deadlines until February 28. (TASR)
  • The finance Ministry released over €30 million for the operation of 260 mobile rapid testing sites for five months and for opening new ones. (FinMin Facebook page)
  • Slovakia has received 2.6 million SD Biosensor antigen tests today, the Economy Ministry informed. (Sme)
  • The Specialised Criminal Court has extended pre-trail custody for Norbert Bödör, facing corruption charges in the Cattle breeder case, until April 1, pending confirmation by the Supreme Court. (SITA)
  • Roland’s Palace, one of the most beautiful buildings on the Main Square in Bratislava, which was damaged at the end of November 2018 by fire, should finally regain its original look during the second quarter of 2021.

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