News digest: Part of Slovakia in the worst possible colour of European Covid map

The Covid vaccine booster will be available for more people starting Monday. Education system reform is about to start.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Thursday, October 21 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.

Education Ministry kicks off big reform

The Education Ministry is ready to launch a reform that should bring the education system in Slovakia into the 21st century, Minister Branislav Gröhling (SaS) said.

The reform is made up of an amendment to the school law and laws on pedagogic and expert employees, and expert education and preparation.

These amendments aim to change the school curriculum, digitalise the education system, support inclusive education and improve the education of teachers.

“The largest reform months in the education system await us,” the minister said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

State sent first aid money to shell companies

Slovakia sent millions of euros in pandemic first aid to shell companies, the Investigative Centre of Ján Kuciak reported.

Up to €24 million was likely sent in public money to suspicious companies who do not file final accounts. It is not clear whether they have employees, and several owe money in taxes.

The Labour Ministry did not specify for the investigation centre if these companies will face consequences and how the control mechanism works.

The Investigative Centre asked how these companies could request money from the ministry when they did not submit financial statements or only did so many years ago.

Coronavirus and vaccination news

  • Central and eastern Slovakia is in the dark-red tier on the map of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The colour signalises the highest possible risk of infection.
  • 3,091 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 14,273 PCR tests performed on Wednesday. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 1,052 people. 11 more deaths were reported on Wednesday. The vaccination rate is at 45.22 percent; 2,487,216 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • With All Saints' Day approaching, experts are relying on people's responsibility. They recommended that people reconsider travelling to graves and families. They do not recommend travelling to districts that are in the dark-red or black tiers.
  • From Monday, registration for the third dose of the Covid vaccine will start for people over 55, people with chronic diseases or people in high-risk occupations. 6,400 people have already been vaccinated with the third dose so far. The state has also begun vaccinating health professionals and social workers.
  • Slovakia's group of experts will not recommend lifting the rules for vaccinated people in the black-tier districts. In the black-tier districts, even the vaccinated cannot go to restaurants or gyms, for example.

Photo of the day

An unusual guest was seen on the Senianske ponds in eastern Slovakia - the Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus). It has stopped at this site several times in the past, but it is always an unusual observation, said SOS/BirdLife Slovakia, an organisation dedicated to the protection of birds.

Feature story for today

MEP Martin Hojsík believes that the high prices of electricity and gas on the market aren't due to the system of emission permits or the fact that the EU is pushing for zero-emission energy production. He rather sees Russia as the culprit and believes the planned changes are an opportunity for the EU to avoid similar situations in the future.

Russia, not emission allowances, is to blame for electricity and gas prices Read more 

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In other news

  • The secondary school leaving exam, called Maturita in Slovakia, will not be cancelled this year in schools, said Education Minister Branislav Gröhling. The Maturita has not taken place in the past two years due to the pandemic. However, since a certain percentage of pupils and teachers are vaccinated, it can take place this year, according to the minister.
  • The statistics of the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS) show that 615,000 people, about 11.4 percent of the population, are at risk of poverty. Together with Czechia and Finland, Slovakia belongs among the European countries with the lowest poverty risk rates.
  • Medline postponed the launch of production of its new plant in Partizánske to April of the next year. The American producer of surgery kits reasoned the delay with its plans to widen the plant, the mayor of the town said.
  • The Bratislava City Council has approved strict rules for street advertising. In some places, it will not be possible to install new billboards. Advertisements should not obstruct the view of the city, its landmarks and valuable objects.
  • Former SIS counterintelligence chief Peter Gašparovič and ex-police officer Ladislav Vičan are guilty of accepting a bribe in the phase of preparation, the Specialized Criminal Court has ruled. Gašparovič should serve an 11-year sentence and pay a fine of €50,000. Vičan should serve a 10-year sentence and pay €40,000. They both appealed.
  • The biggest Slovak producer of mattresses, Materasso Slovakia, plans to build a new plant in Oravské Veselé for more than €5 million. This will enable the company to produce matresses with higher-added value and to fulfil the orders more operatively. Construction should start in May 2022.
  • Twitter recently bought the communication software Sphere, which transforms groups into vibrant communities. The software was developed by Slovak Tomáš Halgaš and Briton Nick D’Aloisio.

Do not miss on today

New Low Tatras attraction fascinates and worries hikers Read more  Some petrol stations report a shortage of fluid for diesel engines. Minister says no cars will have to remain parked Read more  In a rich English family, she had to shower an eight-year-old. What followed surprised her even more Read more 

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