News digest: Some schools won’t open, British variant prevails in the capital

Branches of the Foreigners’ Police still remain closed, trains from Budapest to continue to Prague.

(Source: Sme)

This is the Thursday, February 4, 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.

Not all schools will open

Some municipalities have announced that they will not open kindergartens and years one to four of primary schools from February 8, as the Education Ministry had decided on February 3.

Some argued that the situation in their region was worrying and that they would keep schools closed for some weeks more. Others want to re-open as soon as possible but claim that they do not have enough time to launch the processes and purchase all the protective means for safe education.

The opening of schools and kindergartens is pre-conditioned by a negative test result for parents and employees of the school.

Meanwhile, PM Matovič shed doubt on the idea of sending children back to school while the British variant of the coronavirus is showing significant spread.

Testing in Bratislava, for example, showed that the strain is prevailing in the capital, as it was found in 85 percent of positive samples. The municipality claims that these are people of various age, occupation and place of residence and therefore it is unlikely that the infections were acquired in one hotspot.

Minister Gröhling reacted by saying that schools will open as agreed with Health Minister Marek Krajčí and epidemiologists.

Schools can re-open but some will remain closed Read more 

Hundreds of vaccine doses end up in the rubbish

Some hospitals did not have accessible syringes with the needles necessary to extract the sixth dose from vials of the Comirnaty vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.

Sme daily reported that hospitals in Trnava and Martin have had to throw away hundreds of doses. They only started to use the correct syringes several days ago, even though the vaccination programme started at the end of December.

The Health Ministry said that it had allocated money from the state budget to purchase syringes. Those were, however, unsuitable, as soon as European Commission approval was granted for one vial of vaccine being used for six instead of five doses.

There is a company producing such syringes in Slovakia. Chirana T. Injecta claims that they are ready to fulfil Slovak needs but they need an order from the ministry first. Negotiations with the ministry started on February 1. Meanwhile, other European countries have bought syringes from the company.

Martin and Trnava threw away hundreds of vaccines due to unsuitable syringes Read more 

Photo of the day:

Feature story of the day:

The pandemic has not diminished the interest or the need of people in Slovakia to learn foreign languages - quite the opposite. Some have been using the time in lockdown to improve their language skills.

The pandemic and the accompanying lockdowns have changed the way people learn foreign languages.

Language schools have switched from traditional classroom teaching to online. They plan to continue this form of teaching even after the pandemic is over and people are able to gather for group activities again. Nevertheless, schools expect many students to prefer a return to the classroom.

Language learning in the Covid era: school selection no longer location-bound Read more 

Other news:

  • The Hydrological institute warns that the first degree warning against floods applies in the districts of Námestovo, Tvrdošín and Dolný Kubín from Thursday. The reason is snow-melt.
  • Police Corps President Peter Kovařík is in quarantine after participating in a Defence and Security Committee meeting where he came in contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus. He postponed a press conference about current topics in the Police Corps.
  • The Foreigners’ Police remain closed until further notice. Clients who booked an appointment online from February 1, will have to re-schedule their appointment when the system becomes active again.
  • The new director of Transparency International Slovakia will be Michal Piško. He will replace outgoing director Gabriel Šípoš who has been working as a director since 2009. Piško is a former journalist and has been working for the PIS since 2015.
  • Several trains going from Budapest through Bratislava will travel onto Prague again from February 8. Currently, they only go as far as Brno or Břeclav in the Czech Republic. The change to the schedule has been made by the Czech national carrier České dráhy, which operates the train together with Slovak and Hungarian carriers.
  • The former head of the Agricultural Payments Agency Juraj Kožuch has been released from custody after ten months, according to a decision by the senate of the Supreme Court. Originally, he should have remained in custody until April 1.
  • President Zuzana Čaputová announced she would recall Miroslav Fikar as rector of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava (STU) on February 3 but later changed her mind when Fikar’s attorney filed an administrative complaint against the decision. Chair of the Academic Senate of STU Marián Peciar said that it pointlessly traumatised university and public.

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