TODAY IN SLOVAKIA

News digest: The ministry makes vaccine promises, while the PM addresses EMA board chair

A man positive with the South Africa version died earlier than the strain was confirmed in Slovakia. NCZI head ends following several problems.

Illustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

This is the Tuesday, March 9, 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.

The ministry apologises for vaccination chaos

People will not have to fight for vaccination dates anymore, the Health Ministry has promised. The virtual waiting room for vaccination registration is expected to launch next Monday, March 15. People should be able to register with their birth number and receive an invitation with the vaccination date.

Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) meanwhile dismissed the head of the National Health Information Centre (NCZI), Peter Bielik following several problems, most recently the chaotic registration for Covid vaccination. Róbert Suja will temporarily lead the NCZI until a proper selection procedure is over.

The number of vaccines Slovakia expects to receive in March is higher than from December to February altogether, said State Secretary of the Health Ministry, Jana Ježíková, on Radio Expres. People aged 40 and over could be vaccinated in May, she suggested. Krajčí said in another discussion broadcast by TV Markíza that everyone interested in receiving the jab should at least get the first one before the beginning of the summer holidays.

Slovakia could start vaccinating 40+ age group in May Read more 

The Sputnik V vaccination should speed up the process by a month, Ježíková noted. The vaccines are currently being tested on animals in eastern Slovakia, and the first people should not receive them earlier than in three weeks.

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency did not recommend using the vaccine, after which PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) criticised its chair.

Dear Christa, we would all be very happy if you could change your working hours at the EMA in the months to come to 24 hours a day and 7 days a week - so that three weeks instead of three months would be enough for you to approve the new vaccines. Because many lives are at stake. Thank you for your understanding.

PM Igor Matovič to Christa Wirthumer-Hoche, EMA chair

The State Institute for Drug Control later apologised to EMA’s chair for Matovič’s words on Facebook.

Sputnik V tested on animals in eastern Slovakia Read more 

Other coronavirus and vaccination news:

  • A man from the Orava region who died on February 18 was infected with the South Africa variant. This suggests that the strain was probably in the country even before it was officially confirmed on Friday, March 5, as the man had not travelled abroad. (noviny.sk)
  • One third of employees of government offices, patent officers and distrainors were registered for priority vaccination as members of "critical infrastructure". The vaccination of officials and civil servants following the lists compiled by the Interior Ministry has not yet taken place, and the department has promised to reduce the number of those registered. (Denník N)

How should Slovakia recover?

The Finance Ministry introduced a final draft recovery plan for using money from the Next Generation EU fund. The highest sum, €2.17 billion, should be poured into green economy.

Slovakia also plans to allocate money to digitalisation, education, including inclusive teaching, and health care, focusing on mental health among others.

The plan is divided into 18 parts, so-called components, which include reforms and investments with an overall value of €6 billion. The plan will now undergo an interdepartmental review.

Recovery plan has five priorities, green economy will get the most money Read more 

Travel advice:

All travellers arriving to Jamaica are obliged to have a negative Covid-19 test no older than 72 hours. Each traveller should also register at www.visitjamaica.com.

Video for today:

Former soloist of the Slovak National Theatre Opera, Peter Oswald, prepared a small concert from the balcony of his flat in Bratislava-Dúbravka:

Feature story for today:

The controversial felling of 80 woodland trees in Bratislava’s Old Town has enraged local residents and led to calls to change planning and construction laws.

The felling of the trees – some of them 60 years old - was carried out under a legal permit, but came in spite of protests from local residents and pleas from the Old Town council to the permit holders, a company called Angkor Wat, to delay the operation.

Read more in a story by Jana Liptáková.

Outrage over Old Town tree felling Read more 

In other news

  • The members of the parliamentary defence and security committee will ask General Prosecutor Maroš Žilinka about the case of the abduction of Vietnamese citizen Trinh Xuan Thanh back in 2017. The General Prosecutor's Office recently announced that the decisions of law enforcement bodies on rejecting criminal motions in the matter were lawful.
  • President Zuzana Čaputová met with Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár (Sme Rodina), discussing the latest developments in the ruling coalition. The Sme Rodina leadership is scheduled to convene on March 10, to talk about the future of the government.
  • A group of MPs who left the far-right Kotleba - People's Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) will be active in the Republika (Republic) movement, created by renaming the already existing party of ex-MP Peter Marček. It will be chaired by MEP Milan Uhrík.
  • The sale of crypto-currencies in Slovakia doubled in y-o-y comparison, to €11.5 million, according to the Bitstock.com website. Still, it is about one third of the sum sold in the Czech Republic.
  • The captain of the Slovak representation football team, Marek Hamšík, signed a three-month contract with the Swedish first league team IFK Göteborg. The long-term player of SSC Napoli football club joined the Chinese Ta-lien Pro in February 2019, but the contract was terminated a few weeks ago.

Do not miss on Spectator.sk today:

Jedi Knights and problems remembering marriage dates. People give funny answers in census Read more  Women in Slovakia still have lower average pay than their male counterparts Read more