News digest: Positive news for the economy, Slovakia may purchase Sputnik vaccine

Slovakia reports a high number of Covid deaths. The number of abuse and child pornography cases up.

(Source: SITA)

This is the Tuesday, February 16, 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.

Positive GDP flash estimate news

The GDP flash estimate in the final three months of 2020 have come as a pleasant surprise when the epidemic situation was deteriorating in Slovakia and all Europe, commented Ľubomír Koršňák, analyst of the UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia.

GDP decreased at constant prices by 2.7 percent in the Q4 2020 year-on-year. After seasonal adjustment, it went down by 2.7 percent annually, but increased by 0.2 percent compared with the previous quarter, according to the data presented by the Statistics Office.

“Despite the second Covid-19 pandemic wave, which hit the population harder than the first one, the Slovak economy did quite well and the performance of several industries was surprising,” the Statistics Office wrote in its statement, naming the car industry and construction.

Related articleEconomic performance from the end of 2020 a pleasant surprise Read more 

Jankovská may be released from custody

The Specialised Criminal Court has decided to release former state secretary of the Justice Ministry, Monika Jankovská, from custody. Her detention ends on March 11.

Prosecutor Valéria Simonová has appealed the decision, meaning the case will now go to the Supreme Court. The date has not been set yet.

Jankovská is currently hospitalised in Trenčín, following a suicide attempt.

Related articleFormer state secretary Jankovská may be released from custody Read more 

Slovakia not managing to decrease Covid deaths

Hospitals are full and Slovakia has not managed to reduce the number of coronavirus deaths despite a 1.5-month lockdown.

While other countries marked a peak in the infectious rate and slowly decrease after measures started to work, Slovakia's line on a graph looks like the country is climbing a mountain ridge: still with very higher numbers of the deceased, currently oscillating between 90 and 120.

Experts agree that while the more infectious British strain that spread in Slovakia could be one reason, another may be a weak lockdown rules as people are not following restrictions, and Slovakia saw some measures lifted on February 8 when some schools opened. Mobility also increased due to mass testing.

Besides British strain, weak lockdown could be to blame for increase in covid deaths Read more 

Coronavirus-related news:

  • 1,442 out of 8,237 tests (or 17.51 percent) carried out on February 15 were positive. Of 198,311 antigen tests, 3,100 (1.56 percent) were positive. A further 111 people died.
  • The pandemic situation in Slovakia is extremely critical, President Zuzana Čaputová said after meeting with doctors and experts. One of the reasons is that the authorities imposed strict lockdown measures too late, she added. “Let’s experiment less,” Čaputová said.
  • The pandemic commission will recommend the cabinet to negotiate the purchase of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) wrote on Facebook. The experts want to respond with this step to the delayed distribution of vaccines recognised by the EU.
  • The Interior Ministry has noticed the decreasing capacities of crematoriums due to the increased number of the deceased.

Picture of the day:

Winter swimmers in Veľký Draždiak, Petržalka. The State Protection of Nature does not recommend swimming in the lake due to the repeated deaths of swans caused by the avian flu.

Feature story for today:

The state’s testing strategy using antigen tests, combined with self-tracing, meaning that those who test positive must notify the people they have been in close contact with, is not working. The number of Covid patients in hospitals did not drop under 3,600 last week, and more than 5,000 new infections are reported every day.

“We are not taking advantage of the strengths of either of the two types of tests, and it results in chaos,” said former head of the Institute of Health Policy think tank running under the Health Ministry, Martin Smatana.

Slovakia tests a million people each week yet fails to contain coronavirus spread Read more 

In other news

  • The number of cases concerning the abuse of close persons and the spread of child pornography increased in Slovakia last year. Many attacks were aimed at lonely people, the police said.
  • Two Russian Mi-17 military helicopters, one from 1987 and the other from 1989, will go through a general repair worth €10 million. The Defence Ministry concluded contracts in February with the Letecké Opravovne Trenčín aircraft repair company.
  • Former Police Corps president Tibor Gašpar remains in custody under unchanged conditions, after the Specialised Criminal Court judge turned down his request for being released from custody. Also former judge Richard Molnár will stay in custody until mid-June.
  • Investments in real estate in Slovakia dropped by almost one quarter last year, but they can return to pre-pandemic levels this year, according to the CBRE consulting company. About 40 percent of investors came from Asia.
  • Slovak tennis player Filip Polášek and Croatian Ivan Dodig advanced to the semifinals of Australian Open doubles. They defeated the Matthew Ebden and John-Patrick Smith in three sets 6:4, 2:6, and 6:4.

Do not miss on today:

Anti-extremist department no longer exists following general prosecutor's decision Read more 

Rare mineral discovered in eastern Slovakia Read more 

Slovakia is the worst in Europe in number of educated children of preschool age Read more