News digest: Stricter rules and Russian vaccine supplies

Police officers in civilian clothing and soldiers have joined enforcement of measures. BBC1 and BBC1 Plus office buildings change hands.

Illustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Monday, March 1, 2021. For a deeper insight into current political affairs, please see our Last Week in Slovakia, published earlier today.
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New measures from Wednesday

After several days of negotiations between PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO), scientists and epidemiologists, invited to discuss ways to improve the deteriorating situation surrounding the pandemic in Slovakia, new measures have been introduced. They were approved by the government on the evening of February 28.

The aim of the new anti-epidemic rules should be to decrease mobility, decrease the spread of infection, prevent the import of new mutations, and slow the increase in the number of hospitalisations in the upcoming three weeks.

If the new measures fail to achieve this aim by March 21, the country will prepare for the implementation of a strict limitation in movement, suspension of production and the closure of the country.

The new measures include a tougher curfew from Wednesday, March 3, the mandatory wearing of FFP2 masks in shops and public transport from next Monday, and a new approach to sequencing samples to reveal virus strains.

Check the new measures here:

Gov't approved stricter Covid measures. If ineffective, hard lockdown will follow Read more 

Slovakia received Sputnik V

A batch of the Russian vaccines Sputnik V has arrived in Slovakia onboard the military plane Spartan, which took off to Moscow on the night of February 28, landing back in Košice a day later.

The first to break the news was the Denník N daily.

The vaccine will now be transported to the stores of the Imuna Pharm company in Šarišské Michaľany (Prešov Region) and subsequently checked by the State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL). It will probably be put to use in mid-March, Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) said.

Sputnik V vaccines landed in SlovakiaRead more 

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry uncovered a new vaccination strategy, giving preference to shop assistants, public transport drivers, taxi drivers and ticket inspectors. Not everybody is happy with the change.

Some criticise recent changes to vaccination strategy Read more 

Other Covid-related developments

  • 842 people were positively diagnosed with the coronavirus disease in Slovakia on February 28, the total number increasing to 308,925. 81 people died, increasing the total number to 7,270.
  • Police officers in civilian clothing will help enforce the adherence to coronavirus restrictions. 232 soldiers joined the enforcement of the measures, too.
  • Hungary has prolonged its border checks, introduced on September 1, 2020, at least until Tuesday, March 16.
  • MultiplexDX received an approval and certification for its gargling LAMP tests from the State Institute for Drug Control (ŠÚKL).

Picture of the day:

Feature story for today:

We need to talk about AstraZeneca, and we’ll try not to use curse words.

Earlier this week, an EU official told Reuters that AstraZeneca “would deliver less than 90 million doses in the second quarter” despite a commitment to deliver 180 million COVID-19 vaccines.

There are logistical problems to delivering vaccines. Ingredients for the vaccines are in high demand and the manufacturing process is complicated. While I have no doubt this is true, and generating, producing and distributing a new vaccine in less than a year is understandably difficult, that doesn’t mean AstraZeneca should get away with breaking promises.

Read more in an opinion piece by Ben Cunningham.

We need to talk about AstraZeneca. Without curse words Read more 

In other news

  • As many as 2,640,000 people have filled in the census form in the past two weeks, which represents 47 percent of people living in Slovakia, with most people being from the Bratislava Region and the city of Trnava. Read more information about the census here.
  • Several universities are protesting against changes planned by the Education Ministry, mentioning efforts to politicise them.
  • Jozef Brhel, detained within the Mýtnik (Toll Collector) police operation, will remain in custody after the Supreme Court turned down his complaint against an earlier decision issued by the Specialised Criminal Court.
  • The amendment to the Labour Code, introducing new rules for meal vouchers, home office and short-term work for students older than 15 years, came into force today.
  • Wood & Company acquired the BBC 1 and BBC 1 Plus office buildings in Bratislava from the Austrian company CA Immo. The price has not been revealed.
  • The state budget deficit amounted to €1.179 billion as of the end of February, quite a drop compared with €721 million in February 2020. Income dropped by €310.8 million to €1.864 billion, while expenditures rose by €147.5 to €3.043 billion in annual comparison.

Also on today:

The far-right is falling, SaS stays ahead of OĽaNO Read more 

United colours of freedom: Orešanský hrebeň Read more 

New archeological artefacts discovered near Nemšová Read more 

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