News digest: Matovič will resign on Tuesday

New map of districts come into effect. The end of online census is nearing.

President Zuzana Čaputová met with Eduard Heger, who is said to replace Igor Matovič as the prime minister. (Source: TASR)

This is your overview of news from Slovakia on Monday, March 29, 2021. For a deeper insight into current affairs, read our Last Week in Slovakia, published earlier today.
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A new cabinet tomorrow

After spending nearly all of March trying to find an exit from the coalition crisis, it seems that the four coalition parties have finally come to a resolution: PM Igor Matovič of OĽaNO will swap posts with his party colleague, Finance Minister Eduard Heger.

The decision has been welcomed by the representatives of all the remaining parties, namely Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), Za Ľudí and Sme Rodina. Many of them called it "a statesmanlike gesture".

Heger met with President Zuzana Čaputová on March 29. He confirmed that Matovič will hand in his resignation tomorrow, probably in the morning, and subsequently Heger will be assigned to form a new cabinet.

Most of the ministers serving in the current cabinet are expected to return, including those who resigned in the past few weeks.

Neither engaging, nor offensive. What would Heger be like as PM? Read more 

Tests by Siemens questioned

Not long ago, several media outlets reported on the Health Ministry’s purchase of 35 million rapid tests for nearly €140 million. The order contained two types of tests: 20 million of the Standard Q Covid Ag Test by SD Biosensor and 15 million of the Clinitest® Rapid Covid-19 Antigen Test by Siemens. None of them could be used for home use, as ex-health minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO) had originally suggested, but the ministry has promised to ask for an exception from the Slovak Office of Standards, Metrology and Testing.

The exception has been granted to the rapid tests by SD Biosensor.

As for Siemens, the Health Ministry has recently said it has received numerous reports on the error rate of these antigen tests by Siemens, and questioned their reliability.

Neither the ministry, nor the company has provided more details, but they are ready to check them.

The Health Ministry has received error reports on antigen tests by Siemens Read more 

New map of districts

Following the Health Ministry’s enthusiasm over the gradually improving pandemic situation in Slovakia, several districts have switched to the dark red tier on March 29, after spending several weeks in the black tier.

Currently, there are 14 districts in the black tier (down from the 20 last week), while another 58 districts are in the dark red tier and the remaining seven in the red tier.

Covid and vaccination-related developments

  • 205 out of 2,298 PCR tests carried out on March 28 came back positive, representing 8.92 percent. Out of 277,223 antigen tests, 1,039 were positive (or 0.37 percent).
  • The Health Ministry launched a registration for the vaccination of the 50+ age group on Sunday, March 28. Altogether 643,763 people have received their first Covid vaccine shot, and 255,897 have received the second shot as of March 29.
  • People from Slovakia travelling to the Czech Republic will need a negative antigen test result no older than 24 hours or a negative PCR test result no older than 72 hours, and are required to fill in a Public Health Passenger Locator Form, the Foreign Affairs Ministry wrote on its website. After arriving to the country, incomers are required to self-isolate until they receive another negative PCR test result.

Picture of the day

Feature story for today

Judging by the frequency with which Slovak politicians demand it of one another, the thing we most need is… self-reflection. Unlikely though it may seem, this somewhat rarefied concept is a permanent fixture in Slovak political discourse. Very occasionally, someone promises to engage in it themselves, or on behalf of their party – normally after getting walloped in an election, but in the majority of cases, it is someone else that needs to “reflect” on their actions.

Hall of mirrors Read more 

In other news

  • Nearly 81 percent of people in Slovakia have participated in the census, which represents more than 4.5 million people. The online part of the census ends on March 31.
  • Businessman Michal Suchoba has reportedly pleaded guilty to the deeds in the Očistec (Purgatory) and Mýtnik (Toll Collector) cases.
  • The National Criminal Agency (NAKA) has raided the house of businessman Ivan Chrenko, the private broadcaster TV JOJ reported. The HB Reavis group, owned by Chrenko, later specified that the raid took place on a property owned by his ex-wife and is related neither to the firm nor to Chrenko himself.
  • Former director of the Slovak Information Service (SIS) intelligence agency, Vladimír Pčolinský, will be prosecuted in custody, as stems from the March 29 decision of the Supreme Court. It also decided on keeping Zoroslav Kollár, detained during the Víchrica (Gale) operation, in detention. (TASR)
  • Labour offices in Slovakia registered altogether 85,500 people who were without a job for more than 12 months at the end of February, which represents more than one third of all registered jobless people. The number went up by 46 percent (or 27,000 people) year-on-year.
  • Altogether 872,000 people in Slovakia (or 16 percent of the population) are threatened with poverty, the most being in the Banská Bystrica Region and the Prešov Region. (FinGO)

Also on today

App to help fight human trafficking now available in new languages Read more 

Czech billionaire Petr Kellner killed in Alaska Read more 

Modest joy: Záruby and Ostrý kameň Read more 

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