Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Thursday, October 7, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.
Situation deteriorates, particularly in the north
Although no district in Slovakia will switch to the black tier as of next Monday, the situation keeps deteriorating, particularly in the north of the country. The most serious situation seems to be in Žilina Region, said Matej Mišík, head of the Institute of Health Analyses, running under the Health Ministry.
At the same time, the highest number of positive cases was reported in the districts of Stará Ľubovňa and Stropkov (both in Prešov Region).
The situation deteriorates due, in part, to the frequency of weddings and parties attended by people from across the country, according to Mišík.
About one-quarter of all people identified as Covid-positive last week were under the age of 18, even though this age group represents only 19 percent of the entire population.
As for the entire country, there will be 16 districts in the dark red tier with the strictest measures. In these districts, FFP2/KN95 respirators will be mandatory indoors and masks will be mandatory outdoors. Furthermore, the interiors of restaurants will only be open to fully vaccinated people. Another 43 districts will be in the red tier and 20 in the orange tier.
Bratislava will remain in the orange tier, even though the vaccination rate among people older than 55 years reached 76 percent. Regional hygienists made this decision based on the situation in surrounding districts.
Meanwhile, the experts cooperating with the Health Ministry announced the administration of booster shots will start sometime next week. Priority will be given to at-risk groups, people with immunity problems and those who received the vaccine more than six months ago.
More Covid and vaccination developments
- 1,451 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 11,115 PCR tests performed on October 6. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 787. Eight more deaths were reported on Wednesday. The vaccination rate is at 44.79 percent; 2,463,578 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
- The Public Health Authority decided to scrap the special shopping hours for senior citizens and the disabled, which were in place for districts in the dark red and black tiers of the alert system, known as Covid automat. Recently, some retailers objected to the fact that the hours were not in place in stores that do not sell food.
- The vaccination rate in Bratislava exceeded 60 percent. As much as 64 percent of the population has received the first shot and 62 percent the second shot.
- The Regional Public Health Authorities took 218 samples from waste water between September 27 and October 4, out of which 197 (90.37 percent) were positive or had limited traces of the virus.
- Slovakia will donate more than 2 million doses (worth €3.7 million in total ) of the AstraZeneca vaccine within the COVAX initiative. The country has donated 770,000 vaccines so far, sending them to Ukraine, Montenegro, Vietnam, Rwanda and Kenya.
- Slovakia will purchase 10 million antigen tests via the EC procurement to be used for self-testing.
- As much as 95.8 percent of pupils have in-person education, while 4.2 percent learn remotely, said Education Minister Branislav Gröhling (SaS).
Open ring road stretches cause some problems
Despite the opening of several sections of the Bratislava ring road last weekend, tailbacks remain a problem.
“After [the construction is complete], we will look for solutions to traffic jams in Bratislava in tandem with self-governing administrative bodies and the police,” Transport Minister Andrej Doležal (Sme Rodina nominee) said after meeting with the representatives from the affected villages and boroughs on October 4.
A discussion was held about problems that may arise with the opening of parts of the D4/R7 road in certain villages or Bratislava boroughs, with several mayors expressing their dissatisfaction with the current state of traffic.
Doležal stated that he would like to wait for the situation to stabilise after the remaining segments of the ring road are open. He also said that the current state of traffic around Bratislava is “catastrophic” and will remain so for some time.
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Picture of the day
The water level of the Danube in Bratislava is very low due to the planned repair works on the Gabčíkovo Dam.
Feature story for today
In Slovakia, the possession of marijuana carries a harsher sentence than manslaughter in some cases. There were several attempts to change marijuana-related legislation in early 2021, all unsuccessful due to a lack of agreement between coalition parties. However, change is finally in sight thanks to an amendment to the Criminal Code made by the Justice Ministry, which should be presented this autumn.
In other news
- The interior minister will have more powers when it comes to changes to the leading posts in the police force. According to the amendment to the law on state service, passed by 79 out of 125 MPs present, he will be able to move police officers to another post without stating the reason. In addition, the parliament is set to discuss the changes to the election of the Police Corps president at the upcoming session starting in mid-October, giving more powers to the minister as well.
- The parliament approved changes to the law on public procurement, authored by Deputy PM for Legislation Štefan Holý (Sme Rodina) in cooperation with Miroslav Hlivák, chair of the Public Procurement Office.
- The OFZ company, a manufacturer of ferroalloys based in Oravský Podzámok, announced a shut-down of more than half of its furnaces due to jumps in electricity prices on commodity exchanges. Last week, a similar step was taken by aluminium producer Slovalco in Žiar nad Hronom.
- The Hornonitrianske Bane Prievidza mining company will no longer mine coal in the Handlová mine; 237 employees lost their jobs as a result. This step is part of the pledge to stop brown coal mining in the Upper Nitra region.
- Nearly 84,000 job offers were published on the Profesia.sk job portal in the third quarter of 2021, up by more than 4,000 quarter-on-quarter. The highest competition is in the translating and interpreting sector.
- Slovakia sold state bonds for €1 billion with a due date of October 13, 2051. The interest was three times higher than the offer, said the Debt and Liquidity Management Agency (ARDAL).
One last note: Czech citizens living in Slovakia can submit their vote in the general election at the Czech Embassy in Bratislava on Friday (October 8) between 14:00 and 22:00, and Saturday (October 9) between 8:00 and 14:00.
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7. Oct 2021 at 18:02 | Radka Minarechová