News digest: Delta variant still dominates in Slovakia

Experts and activists warn of planned changes to abortions. New campaign supposed to lure people into vaccination. Football fans thwart a match in Trnava.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Monday, October 18, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.

Draft restricting abortions faces opposition

Various proposals restricting access to abortions have appeared in the parliament since the 2020 general election. None made it to the second reading, except for a most recent draft submitted by a group of MPs led by the ultraconservative Anna Záborská, who represents the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO).

Though she talks about helping pregnant women, the proposal introduces several changes experts and women rights advocates consider to be problematic, like prolonging the period before the procedure to give women time to think about it (from the current 48 hours to 72 hours), and banning any ad on abortions or related medical items.

The draft should be discussed in the second reading at the October parliamentary session that starts tomorrow, on October 19.

This could create several problems in practice, warn experts in gynaecology and obstetrics, as well as the representatives of organisations advocating women’s rights. They also criticised the fact that the draft was not discussed with experts before submission to parliament.

Meanwhile, several protests against Záborská’s draft have taken place on Monday evening across the country, including in Bratislava.

Ministry introduces new vaccination campaign

After weeks of promises, the Health Ministry finally introduced its new campaign to boost vaccination.

The visuals, created by the MUW Saatchi & Saatchi company, feature a virus and encouraging mottos like "We all have a common enemy” or “Let’s defeat it before it defeats us.”

The new creative concept is said to reflect the highly polarised current mood in society, according to the Health Ministry.

Besides the campaign, which should be disseminated via various media outlets and on social networks, the ministry is ready to continue with its information campaign, which includes transmitting information about vaccination through social networks or various leaflets distributed directly to people.

For a deeper insight into current affairs, check out our Last Week in Slovakia, published earlier today. You can sign up for the newsletter here.

More coronavirus and vaccination news

  • 553 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 3,162 PCR tests performed on October 17. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 964. Eight more deaths were reported on Sunday. The vaccination rate is at 45.14 percent, 2,482,655 people having received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • Five districts in Slovakia, namely Bardejov, Čadca, Kysucké Nové Mesto, Svidník and Stará Ľubovňa, switched to the black tier on Monday. This means that the strictest set of measures from the alert system, known as the Covid automat, are applied in these districts, such as the requirement to wear masks outside and FFP2/KN95 respirators inside, the ban on various mass events for people not fully vaccinated against Covid, or the closure of restaurants (apart from delivery services and window points of sale), fitness centres, water parks and accommodation facilities for short-term stays for everybody. Altogether 15 districts are in the orange tier, 37 in the red tier, and 22 in the dark red tier.
  • The Delta variant of the coronavirus was uncovered in 99.9 percent of 1,953 positive samples sequenced in September. In two samples, the Alpha variant was confirmed.
  • Doctor Peter Sabaka sent pre-lawsuit notice letters to Milan Uhrík and Milan Mazurek, the renegades of the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia who meanwhile joined the Republika movement. He wants to sue them over the statements and disinformation they are circulating in connection to his person. (Denník N)
  • The government does not plan to declare another national emergency, said PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) during a talk show broadcast by the private radio station Radio Expres, adding that the current Covid automat is set well.

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Picture of the day

The football match in Trnava between Spartak Trnava and Slovan Bratislava ended just after 15 minutes, following several incidents between the fans of both clubs. At one moment, they even overran the field and started fighting, which observers called unprecedented. The crowd had to be dispersed by police.

In other news

  • The Interior Ministry recorded 36 cases of human trafficking between the beginning of 2021 and September, as it said on the occasion of EU Anti-Trafficking Day, which falls on October 18. For the first time in history, the Ministry uncovered the illegal adoption of a child, while there were several cases involving the sexual exploitation of girls for which their own family was responsible.
  • The opposition party of Smer organised a protest in Rimavská Sobota (Banská Bystrica Region) against the increase in energy prices and the current government. The speakers also pointed to the need to hold a snap election. Most of the participants did not wear masks. The Regional Public Health Authority meanwhile said that it will look into the protest, since part of the event was a cultural programme and so it should have followed the respective currently valid rules, like covering one’s face.
  • The Via Iuris think tank has asked MPs to not support an amendment to the law enabling the quicker construction of highways. Via Iuris considers the draft, set to be discussed in a fast-track proceeding, to be unfounded and at odds with the Constitution.
  • “Space week” started in the Slovak pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai on Monday. Apart from representatives of the Education Ministry, also scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, teachers and students are expected to attend the event.
  • The state borrowed €324 million in three state bonds auctions, the Debt and Liquidity Management Agency (ARDAL) said.
  • The Continental company is completing the construction of its new tyre distribution centre in Bernolákovo near Bratislava, and plans to put the centre into operation in December. Tyres will be sent to customers from 12 countries in central and eastern Europe.

More on today

Ex-PM Pellegrini's party still enjoys lion share of public's vote Read more 

No antibodies study on unvaccinated people. Scientists lack money, among other Read more 

From next spring, more people will strip down and rest up in eastern Slovakia Read more 

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