TODAY IN SLOVAKIA

News digest: Interest in Covid jabs low, vaccination rate may be just over one third

Slovakia expects to receive nearly 1.5 million doses this month. Comenius University among 3 percent of the top universities across the globe.

Illustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

This is the Monday, May 3, 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.

For a more detailed insight into current affairs in Slovakia, read our Last Week in Slovakia, published earlier today.

What is the point of the current vaccination registration system? Read more 

Vaccination still facing hurdles

Approximately 258,000 people have registered for the first shot of Covid vaccine since the virtual waiting room opened for everybody older than 16 years last week, while Slovakia expects to receive nearly 1.5 million doses this month.

Given the current registration rate, it is realistic to expect that the vaccination rate in Slovakia will not exceed 38 percent, according to Robert Suja, head of the National Centre for Health Information (NCZI), an organisation responsible for the registration system.

Speaking to the press on May 3, he admitted that the “extremely low” registration rate came as a negative surprise to him, and that a realistic estimate of the vaccination rate by the end of August would be 48 percent.

Meanwhile, the registration system for vaccination had to deal with another problem during the weekend. Although the system did not fail, as it did when people tried to register their parents or grandparents in early March, it was cancelling appointments for the youngest applicants aged 16 or 17, leading to outrage among some who recalled the promise that registration would follow an age criteria.

Both the Health Ministry and the NCZI have said that there was no mistake, claiming that the teenagers were given the appointments if there were no older people waiting for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It is the only vaccine that can be administered to this age group.

Still, they cancelled appointments only a few hours after criticism from Igor Matovič, finance minister and chair of the strongest parliamentary party, OĽaNO.

Barely half of Slovakia's population will get the Covid jab by the end of August, registration rate suggests Read more 

Most districts do not require antigen tests anymore

Only 10 districts remained in the dark red tier from this Monday, with the other 60 in the red tier and the remaining 53 in the red tier and nine in the light red tier. On the national level, nearly entire Slovakia is in red tier, apart from the 10 districts in the dark red zone.

This allowed several measures to be lifted, particularly the curfew, which will now apply between 21:00 and 1:00 in the red and light red districts. This means that the inhabitants of these districts can visit one another again, and do not have to show a negative test when going to non-essential shops or other open facilities during the day.

At the same time, several cultural events can be held once more, following strict hygienic rules.

Districts in red and light red tier lift more measures after May 3 Read more 

More Covid and vaccination developments

  • Altogether 130 out of 12,176 PCR tests carried out on May 2 were positive, which represents 1.07 percent. Of 221,340 antigen tests, 443 were positive (0.20 percent).
  • Austria has moderated measures for cross-border workers coming from Slovakia. They will be asked to show a negative Covid test no older than 7 days, instead of 72 hours. They still have to register with the Pre-Travel-Clearance form once every 28 days or any change of provided data, and a test certificate in English or German if the test is done outside Austria, the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry announced.
  • People vaccinated with both shots of a Covid vaccine will no longer be required to show a negative Covid test when entering Croatia. Neither do those who have recovered from the disease in the past six months have to show a test, but confirmation needs to be issued by a doctor, it cannot be older than 14 days, and it needs to be in English or Croatian, the Foreign Affairs Ministry reported.
  • The Euronews website has reported that out of all members of the former Eastern Bloc that have joined the European Union, Slovakia has the highest trust in the Russian vaccine Sputnik V. The New York Times reported on Slovakia and the Sputnik V vaccine, commenting that “Slovakia provides the most concrete example of how Russia’s vaccine diplomacy has had side effects that can be highly toxic.”

First victim of the Moldava raid acquitted of charges

It will be eight years since the infamous police raid in Moldava nad Bodvou this year. People have seen several reversals in the case throughout this time, including the victims becoming defendants who faced accusations of making false accusations against police officers, and a 2020 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights stating that the human rights of two of the Roma had been violated.

The most recent verdict from May 3 acquitted Leonard Horváth of the charges brought by the Slovak authorities. The verdict is not valid yet. Similar decisions against five out of six defendants may come in the next weeks.

The decision was welcomed by both the lawyer representing the Roma and Ombudswoman Mária Patakyová.

The court acquits the first Roma person in the Moldava raid case Read more 

Picture of the day

PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) was vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine during the weekend. Vaccination is the quickest way to defeat the pandemic, he stressed.

Feature story for today

The World Press Freedom Day is marked on May 3. On this occasion, we picked a story from our archive.

Who are the new censors? Read more 

In other news

  • The organisers of the petition to hold a referendum on early election delivered a petition sheets signed by more than 585,000 people to the Presidential Palace on May 3. President Zuzana Čaputová will announce her next steps after it is confirmed that the petition has met all legal requirements.
  • Comenius University placed 609th in the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), which makes it one of 3 percent of the best universities in the world.
  • The National Criminal Agency launched a criminal prosecution in the Glance House case, for the abuse of a public official’s powers. (TV Markíza)
  • Leo Express will partially restore the operation of trains between Prague and Košice from May 14. Their frequency will depend on the demand, but the plan is to dispatch two return trains a day starting from the summer holiday.
  • Mauro Pini has become the new coach of Slovak skier Petra Vlhová, replacing Livio Magoni.
  • Milan Škriniar was an important player who contributed to his Inter Milan football club’s victory in the Serie A, the first in 11 years.

Read more on Spectator.sk

Revenue and construction sector still suffer from pandemic Read more 

Mass testing was an expensive undertaking, Slovakia spent hundreds of millions on it Read more 

Slovakia welcomes a new, unusual bird into its animal registry Read more 

If you have suggestions on how this news overview can be improved, you can reach us at editorial@spectator.sk.