News digest: Sme Rodina sets conditions for staying in the coalition

Prevalence of the British strain confirmed, data on South African variant corrected. New vaccination slots will be opened today.

Boris Kollár (centre) and his Sme Rodina party revealed their demands for the coalition to continue. (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Learn about politics, business, and other notable events of the day in Slovakia in less than five minutes.
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Sme Rodina has five conditions

A week after the coalition parties discussed the current political situation at the coalition council, the leaders of Sme Rodina met to agree on their stance. The second strongest in the current ruling coalition would like the government to complete its four-year term.

While Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and Za Ľudí ask for some reshuffles, with the names of Health Minister Marek Krajčí, PM Igor Matovič (both OĽaNO) and Economy Minister Richard Sulík (SaS) being mentioned, Sme Rodina does not want any such changes.

“The circus would move from the Government’s Office to the parliament,” said its chair and Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár.

Still, his party will only remain in the coalition if five conditions are met: one-off financial assistance for people suffering from the crisis, a deferral of loan instalments and payments for energies, a delay of distrainment proceedings, compensation in the amount of €100 million for the tourism and gastronomy sectors, and the delivery of five FFP2 respirators to every person for free.

The coalition council is set to meet on Wednesday.

British strain prevalent

The British coronavirus strain is prevailing in Slovakia, as confirmed by the Public Health Authority (ÚVZ). It has revealed the strain in 90 percent of 2,198 examined samples, while back in early February, the strain was uncovered in 74 percent of samples.

The prevalence of the British strain and the pace at which it became dominant in Slovakia proves that it is necessary to adhere to all anti-pandemic measures, the ÚVZ noted.

Meanwhile, the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) announced that the six people identified with the South African strain do not actually have it. The samples were mixed up. The South African variant was confirmed in six other samples, said virologist Boris Klempa of the SAV.

He explained that from the seven original samples, only one was correctly identified: a woman from Banská Bystrica who returned from Zanzibar.

Everybody whose samples were positive with the South African variant has returned from abroad, namely from Tanzania, Zanzibar and Turkey, Klempa said. The information was later confirmed by the Health Ministry.

Related articleSouth African version wrongly identified, British strain still prevails Read more 

Speaking about the current epidemiological situation, Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) said on the evening of March 9 that it seems Slovakia has spemanaged to break the curve.

Although the number of hospitalised patients and Covid-related deaths is still high, mobility decreased slightly and the number of vaccinated people has increased.

“The epidemiological situation will start to improve gradually,” Krajčí said.

Although more districts will be in the black tier from next Monday, increasing from 30 to 35, the minister expects the situation will be much better the week after.

Apart from the new map, another measure will come into force on March 15: FFP2 respirators will be mandatory indoors, apart from one’s households. Find out more about what kind of respirator to purchase, how to use them and how to dispose of them:

FFP2 respirators will soon become mandatory indoors. Here's how you should prepare Read more 

Other coronavirus and vaccination news

  • The number of positive cases revealed by PCR tests in Slovakia was 3,600 out of 16,361 tests carried out on March 9 (22 percent). Of antigen tests, 1,681 out of 154,883 tests were positive (1.07 percent).
  • The Health Ministry will offer more slots for the vaccination of people older than 70 years with the Pfizer vaccine, and for people aged 60-70 years with the AstraZeneca vaccine:
    • 18:30: Bratislava Region and Trnava Region;
    • 19:00: Trenčín Region and Nitra Region;
    • 19:30: Žilina Region and Banská Bystrica Region;
    • 20:00: Košice Region and Prešov Region.
  • The largest vaccination centre in Slovakia will be opened at the National Football Stadium in Bratislava during the upcoming weekend.
  • Croatia has offered Slovakia and the Czech Republic help with the treatment of Covid-infected patients. Its PM Andrej Plenković wrote on Twitter that he has already spoken with his Slovak and Czech counterparts on the phone.
  • As many as 30,000 people from Slovakia have flown abroad for holiday so far this year, said Roman Berkes, head of the Slovak Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agencies. Most of them travelled to United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Zanzibar, Dominican Republic and Egypt. (TASR)
  • MultiplexDX in cooperation with the Biomedical Research Centre of the Slovak Academy of Sciences will complete the new Multivariant PCR test that should distinguish the South African variant from the other strains, the company’s CEO Pavol Čekan wrote on Facebook.

Slovakia has its own Beth Harmon

Are you a fan of the Netflix hit series Queen’s Gambit?

Then you should know that Slovakia has its own young female chess talent: 11-year-old Agáta Berková from Poltár has been playing chess since she was six and is the most talented in the Roma chess team, Hrochotskí Jazdci (Riders from Hrochoť).

She has already had several great achievements.

Slovakia has its own Beth Harmon Read more 

Travel advice:

Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair launched a new Covid-19 Travel Wallet, available only on the Ryanair app, on March 10. Customers can now upload their negative PCR tests, their Covid vaccination certs and other Covid documents that may be required for EU travel this summer.

Picture of the day:

Feature story for today:

Some universities have been on strike alert since the beginning of the month. They oppose the amendment to the law on colleges and universities as proposed by the Education Ministry. Some consider it a return to pre-1989.

The university law is to be amended this year. But the way the ministry proposed the wording of the law has been met with stark opposition among universities, which claim that it opens the doors to political influence at colleges and universities.

“The proposed amendment not only worsens the conditions for increasing the quality of education and scientific activities but also puts universities directly in the position of being in thrall to political nominees,” reads the official statement of Comenius University.

Read more in a story by Nina Hrabovská Francelová.

Universities threaten a strike to protest the latest amendment. Ministry promises changes Read more 

In other news

“I’m powerless.”

Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) admitted that he cannot make the government accept stricter rules for cross-border commuters. Still, he does not consider his resignation an option.

  • Rado Baťo, the former advisor of ex-president Andrej Kiska, submitted a criminal complaint against PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO), following a dispute concerning the apology of his wife Zuzana Baťová, head of the State Institute for Drug Control, to the European Medicines Agency for Matovič’s earlier statement concerning the organisation. The PM published a private conversation with Baťo, to which Baťo responded by publishing Matovič’s phone number.
  • Ex-police chief Tibor Gašpar, detained during the Očistec (Purgatory) operation, will remain in custody, the Supreme Court decided.
  • The police are investigating an incident involving a pile of dung that was left in front of the Government’s Office. The former education minister of the Smer-led government, Juraj Draxler, claimed responsibility for the act.
  • Industrial production in January 2021 dropped after two months of increase, by 3.9 percent year-on-year. The most influential component, the manufacturing of transport equipment, fell by 15 percent.
  • After a hint of a more optimistic development at the end of 2020, the construction output dropped again into a double-digit year-on-year slump in January 2021. The nearly 20-percent decrease was caused by the lower construction and the high comparative basis from January 2020, when the highest volume of construction output since 2008 was reached.
  • The largest Slovak producer of boilers, Protherm Skalica, wants to invest in expanding its production. It will build four new halls and employ 325 new people.

More on today:

Slovak company searching for Covid antibody cure Read more 

Historical castle in Humenné going into the last reconstruction stage Read more 

Related articleTourists abandoned Bratislava Region and the capital; tourism organisation is calling for help Read more