This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. This is a free-of-charge service for our readers. If you want to support us, become a subscriber and gain access to more detailed news and interesting feature stories from Slovakia. Thank you for being our reader.
Coronavirus situation worsens again
The situation in terms of the number of new cases and hospitalised patients has deteriorated again in Slovakia. As of next Monday, more districts will be placed in the black tier and six districts will be marked as red.
Health Minister Marek Krajčí sees no room for lifting measures.
Slovakia's hospitals have been collapsing under the strain of Covid-19 patients for several weeks. Doctors say they are forced to choose which of their coronavirus patients they will hook up to artificial ventilation.
PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) convened a roundtable of experts on the Covid pandemic on Tuesday. The talks continued on Wednesday.
The Sme daily asked several of these experts and the largest hospitals what can be done to stop the increase in Covid patients in hospitals. The daily presented 10 pieces of advice resulting from the survey.
Kurzarbeit to be permanent
The government approved a proposal concerning the permanent kurzarbeit scheme proposed by the Labour Ministry.
The state would, through the labour offices, compensate employees' salaries when an employer cannot assign enough work to the originally-agreed extent.
The amendment has to be approved by parliament first. If approved, it will be valid from next year, the SITA newswire reported.
Coronavirus travel advice:
As of Saturday, people arriving in Poland from Slovakia and Czechia will have to go into quarantine unless they can show a negative Covid test result or proof that they have been inoculated with two Covid vaccine doses, the Polish authorities informed the public. (ČTK)
In other news:
- Slovakia has halted vaccination efforts with the first dose of the Covid vaccine for one week due to a lack of supplies. Only second doses will be administered in hospitals. The halt does not concern social care facilities and teachers up to 55 years of age. (Dennik N)
- The Sputnik V vaccine could be administered to people in Slovakia as part of the third phase of clinical trials, Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) said on Tuesday. This could be the course of action if the State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL) fails to authorise the vaccine for regular use in Slovakia.
- In Slovakia, 2020 was an extremely abnormal year and it is among the ten hottest years marked since the beginning of meteorological measurements.
- The e-quarantine app could be available by the end of April, said Economy Minister Richard Sulík (SaS). The app should be operated by the National Centre of Health Information (NCZI).
- Deputy PM Štefan Holý (Sme Rodina) is positive with the coronavirus again, he confirmed for the Aktuality.sk news website. He is asymptomatic. Holý was diagnosed with Covid in December.
- The Education Ministry has opened 27,000 new appointments for the vaccination of teachers. This time, other staff of schools and kindergartens are included.
- Augustín Hambálek will take the place of the deceased Smer MP Ľubomír Petrák in parliament.
Quote of the day
“I am offering my services to the prime minister. I am ready to take over the complicated health care department.”
Deputy PM and Economy Minister Richard Sulík (SaS) proposed he could replace Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) as health minister. Krajčí has been facing calls for resignation, including from his own coalition partners SaS and Za Ľudí. PM Igor Matovič declined Sulík’s offer. In reaction, Sulík said that from now on, he is not going to share the responsibility for the course of the pandemic.
The Za Ľudí party offered Matovič an expert who could lead the Health Ministry in the autumn, but he declined the offer, the party leader Veronika Remišová said.
Opinion for today
The negative antigen test certificate is – contrary to every sound epidemiological practice – treated as a kind of all-purpose get-out-jail-free card. We are licensed to roam, just not very far.
At least, in theory, movement should still be limited to shopping and exercise. Cabin fever being what it is, the pavements are full of pedestrians and the roads are thronged with traffic. But some are travelling much further, writes James Thomson.
Picture of the day
After more than five years of effort, Liptovské droby, a specialty of the Liptov region, has been added to the list of Slovakia's protected regional specialties.
Do not miss on Spectator.sk today: