News digest: Coalition loses its first MP amid calls for resignations

Employers call for approving the supply of Russian vaccines. Stricter border rules come into force.

Regime on borders has changed.Regime on borders has changed. (Source: SME)

This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. This is a free-of-charge service for our readers. If you want to support us, become a subscriber and get access to more detailed news and interesting feature stories from Slovakia. Thank you for being our reader.

Ruling coalition down one member

Hlohovec Mayor Miroslav Kollár has decided to leave the Za Ľudí caucus and abandon the coalition completely. He later confirmed he is leaving the party, too.

“From this day on, I am not an MP of the ruling coalition led by Igor Matovič anymore,” he wrote on Facebook.

He gave as reasons the chaotic battle against the pandemic and the government's lack of self-reflection and will to draw consequences for the deteriorating epidemiological situation.

He will remain in the parliament, though, and is ready to support the legislation based on the government’s programme statement. Kollár was the only coalition MP not to sign the coalition agreement.

Coalition is losing one MP Read more 

PM and health minister face resignation calls

As the epidemiological situation in Slovakia continues to deteriorate, PM Igor Matovič and Health Minister Marek Krajčí (both OĽaNO) have faced multiple calls to resign.

These come not only from the opposition, but also the coalition and several renegades from the junior coalition parties.

Nothing suggests that either of them will resign, though, and the representatives of the coalition parties have said they have not discussed the topic yet.

President Zuzana Čaputová considers the question of drawing political consequences legitimate.

Unfavourable situation prompts calls for the PM and health minister to resign Read more 

New map of districts

The map showing which tier the districts in Slovakia are in will change again on Monday, February 22.

The number of districts in the black tier will increase to 19, from the current 13. Another 50 districts will be in the dark red tier, and the remaining 10 in the red tier.

President Zuzana Čaputová called the situation serious and stressed the need to listen to scientists, as “the pandemic is a question for experts, and not a political issue.”

It is necessary for the government to respond to the current pandemic situation, the president said.

More districts in the black tier as the pandemic situation is deteriorating Read more 

Other coronavirus-related developments

  • 3,168 out of 13,050 PCR tests carried out on February 16 were positive, which represents 24.28 percent. Of 140,661 antigen tests, 3,881 (or 2.76 percent) were positive.
  • Slovakia will ask for the help of foreign healthcare workers. 10 doctors and 25 nurses are expected to provide assistance in Slovakia for about a month.
  • The Federation of Employers’ Associations called on the cabinet to approve the supply of Russian vaccines at its February 18 session. The State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL) meanwhile said that it would be best to leave the assessment of Sputnik V to the European Medicines Agency.
  • The Association of Towns and Villages of Slovakia (ZMOS) has published a map of mobile testing sites, available on the website (in Slovak).
  • Vaccination registration for teachers will be launched on Thursday (February 18) and Friday (February 19), the Education Ministry announced.

Picture of the day:

New border rules came into force on February 17. Nearly everybody coming from abroad will have to register prior to entering the country and then self-isolate. They must take a PCR test no earlier than eight days after their arrival. There will be exceptions for cross-border commuters and special rules for Slovaks working in other than neighbouring countries, people who recovered from Covid and those vaccinated with the second shot. Read more here.

Feature story for today:

We are missing absolutely key data to be able to assess the effects of our measures and the epidemiological situation we are in.

We have no clue how many people are arriving to hospitals as new patients, we have no clue how many are leaving the hospitals. We therefore cannot say what is causing the increase in the number of hospitalisations we are seeing.

We don't know about ventilators either, because the numbers we have do not match. When you put the arrivals and the departures in an equation, you do not get the number we have now.

Read more about what we do not know in mathematician Richard Kollár's speech, which he delivered during the press conference after a meeting of scientists with President Zuzana Čaputová on February 16, 2021.

Coronavirus in Slovakia: what is going on? Read more 

In other news

  • Interpol has detained businessman Michal Suchoba, who faces charges in the Mýtnik (Toll Collector) case, in the United Arab Emirates.
  • The construction works on the Višnové tunnel, which is part of the cross-country D1 highway, will start in April. No bidder has challenged the public procurement, Transport Minister Andrej Doležal (Sme Rodina) has said.
  • Well-known advisory centre for the LGBTI community in Slovakia, InPoradňa, suspended its activities in January. It received money from EU funds, but the project has ended and they still have not received any settlement from the Labour Ministry.
  • 14-year-old pianist Ryan Martin Bradshaw, who is of Australian-Slovak origin, became the residential soloist of the Symphonic Orchestra of the Slovak Radio. He lives in Bratislava and studies at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna.

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