TODAY IN SLOVAKIA

News digest: British variant widespread across the country

People will not be able to select their type of vaccine. Alleged Smer oligarch in pretrial custody. Special Prosecutor election takes place in parliament.

Vráble (Source: SITA)

This is the Friday, February 5, 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

Roundup: Slovak ice caves are under threat from warm winters Read more 

Tests show B.1.1.7 dominates

The more infectious strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in southern England at the end of last year is the dominant variant in Slovakia at the moment.

The public health offices are testing all positive samples from Wednesday for the British variant and have found it in 71 percent of the 1,360 samples they have tested by Friday afternoon, when PM Igor Matovič reported the numbers on his Facebook page.

Final results have yet to be announced.

Bratislava reported high share of the British variant earlier this week.

The University Hospital of Luis Pasteur in Košice reported that more than 90 percent of the patients who are currently hospitalised there with the Covid tested positive for the British mutation.

Related articleMore aggressive COVID strain probably dominant in Slovakia. It is not necessarily bad news Read more 

Meal vouchers and home office get new rules

The parliament passed an amendment to the Labour Code on Thursday night. It allows employers to pay the food contribution to their employees in money rather than in the so-far compulsory meal vouchers.

The pandemic-induced surge in the number of people working from home has also pushed lawmakers to introduce rules for telework and home office working. The new law guarantees employees the right to log out and rest, among other things.

Related articleMoney instead of meal vouchers, rules for home office working setRead more 

Feature story for today

People in Slovakia will soon be vaccinated with three different vaccines - Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca. In addition, the Health Ministry is considering ordering the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine. The Lancet magazine published a study about the high efficacy of Sputnik earlier this week.

With several different vaccines on the market, neither the Health Ministry nor the experts that the Sme daily spoke with believe that people should be able to choose their jab.

Should people be able to choose their vaccine? It's better not to, say experts and ministry Read more 

In other news

  • The Covid automat, as the Slovak government has called its pandemic tier system, will be applied from Monday. The whole of Slovakia is in the worst, black zone. Home office working is compulsory if possible.
  • The parliament is expected to elect the special prosecutor on Friday evening.
  • The government has not concluded its session over the details of opening schools on Monday. Education Minister Branislav Grohling said on Radio Express at noon that schools are definitely going to open. Many municipalities have decided not to open schools, citing the worrying epidemic indicators.
  • The Specialised Criminal Court ordered pretrial custody for businessman Jozef Brhel who faces corruption and organised crime charges.
  • President Zuzana Čaputová will use all her international contacts to make the production of Covid-19 vaccines in Slovakia a reality, she told Health Minister Marek Krajčí during their Thursday meeting. (TASR)
  • Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) dismissed the head of the cardiovascular diseases institute in Košice, František Sabol, who has led the specialised hospital for 17 years. The outgoing director says the minister did not tell him the reason. The institute is protesting against the decision. (Denník N)
  • Representatives of an association of NGOs, the Partnership for Civic Education condemned the prison sentence for Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and demand that he be freed along with all the detained activists and political prisoners. They also expressed their support for the demonstrating citizens of Russia in their fight for freedom and human rights. The NGOs called on the governments of free and democratic countries, including Slovakia, to apply sanctions to pressure the Kremlin regime into ending the political repressions and flagrant human rights violations.
  • Nitra, Trenčín and Žilina will vie for the title of the European Capital of Culture 2026. (Culture Ministry)
  • US company Seagate entered the Slovak association Innovations for Digital Infrastructure, founded by Tachyum, PosAm and Towercom, later joined by VNET. They cooperate with the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the Investment Ministry. (Trend)
  • The Bratislava-based Volkswagen Slovakia automotive plant was granted the Transformer of the Year award for the second time in a row, for the greatest contribution in increasing effectiveness among the Volkswagen plants worldwide.

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If you have suggestions on how this news overview can be improved, you can reach us at editorial@spectator.sk.