News digest: Pandemic situation worsens, more districts join black tier

Robert Fico refuses to explain leaked recordings. Daily caseload the highest since the second wave’s peak.

(Source: SME.sk / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Wednesday, October 27, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.

Robert Fico talks about recordings but provides no explanation

Smer chair Robert Fico was quick to react to the leaked camera footage capturing his meeting with Robert Kaliňák, the former interior minister of his government, and people linked to corruption scandals in a hunting cottage.

Yet, he failed to provide a proper explanation as to why they were meeting and discussing live cases that are currently under investigation.

“When you are about to look at how I eat bacon and cheese there – why do you care?” Fico reacted.

He played down the questions posed by the journalists about the meetings captured in the footage and called them “personal meetings.” He also failed to explain why in one of the videos, attorneys Marek Para and Pavol Gašpar (the son of charged former police chief Tibor Gašpar) instruct Kaliňák on how to testify in the cases. Fico himself has been talking about how the alleged manipulation of witness testimonies has been used to the detriment of the opposition.

“Write a title that Fico impacts criminal proceedings and he should be imprisoned. Full stop,” Fico said in response to the Sme daily's question.

Meanwhile, General Prosecutor Maroš Žilinka and the police inspectorate of the Interior Ministry said they will deal with the video leak.


Number of black-tier districts more than doubles

As many as 24 districts will follow the strictest measures set by the Covid automat alert system as of next Monday, November 1. Currently, there are only 10 of them.

The limitations in the black-tier districts are quite strict, including for their fully vaccinated inhabitants. Everybody is required to cover their faces when outside and FFP2/KN95 respirators are mandatory inside buildings and on public transport. Restaurants are closed except for take-out and delivery, while fitness centres, wellness centres and water parks will be completely shut. Mass events are allowed for vaccinated participants only, but with restrictions.

Another 39 districts will be in the dark red tier, eight in the red tier and eight in the orange tier. The latter include the five districts of Bratislava, plus the districts of Galanta, Komárno and Šaľa.

Even though the currently valid Covid automat proposes implementing a curfew and some limitations on travelling between districts, these cannot be applied until a national emergency is declared. Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO nominee) reiterated the government does not plan to do so for now.


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More coronavirus and vaccination developments

  • 4,746 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 19,658 PCR tests performed on October 26, which is the most since early January, when the second wave hit its peak in Slovakia. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 1,352. Twenty-two more deaths were reported on Tuesday. The vaccination rate is at 45.34 percent; 2,493,542 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • The Covid beds in Slovak hospitals are occupied at 32 percent of the maximum capacity. The number of people on artificial lung ventilation oscillates between 120 and 130, said Health Minister Lengvarský.
  • Altogether 66,304 booster shots were administered between October 19 and 26, and another 8,822 people are currently registered in the online waiting room. Registration for the third shot was launched yesterday, but not everybody can sign up for it yet.
  • Slovakia has the third-lowest share of fully vaccinated people against Covid in the EU, amounting to only 42.02 percent. The only countries with a lower share are Romania (27.91 percent) and Bulgaria (21.20 percent). (ČTK)
  • Chief hygienist Ján Mikas submitted a criminal complaint against a demonstration held in front of the Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) building, during which its participants attacked a dummy similar to himself in appearance. (Denník N)

Quote of the day

I ask them to strictly follow the currently valid legislation, which includes imposing a sanction.

Infectious disease specialist Ján Pavol Jarčuška admitted to violating pandemic measures in a red-tier district. He attended a party, reportedly with other participants of the infectology conference, and did not wear a respirator, even though it was required. He reported himself to the respective authorities.

The video, capturing him dancing with some other colleagues, was published by the public-service broadcaster RTVS.


Feature story for today

In an interview, Jozef Janiga, chief of the Mountain Rescue Service, explains what information is important to provide when calling rescuers, on which days they expect to be busiest and whether Czech tourists in the High Tatras really need the intervention of the mountain rescuers more often than other nationalities, as the running joke among Slovaks suggests.

When injured or lost in the mountains, who do you call? Read more 

In other news

  • Economy Minister Richard Sulík (SaS) survived an ousting attempt, initiated by the opposition.
  • The state allocated more than €1.9 million for 654 projects submitted by applicants from 29 countries within the grant scheme of the Office for Slovaks Living Abroad, as a 2020 annual report showed.
  • The cabinet approved the draft amendment to the law on the protection of nature and the country that contains the reform of national parks at its October 27 session. If the new rules are passed by the parliament, the lands in national parks currently owned by the state will be managed by the State Nature Conservancy of Slovakia.
  • The tax office will publish on the Financial Administration's website the bank account numbers of VAT payers. This stems from the amendment to the Tax Code, approved by the parliament on Wednesday.
  • German company Vaillant Group Heat Pump Production will invest €120 million in a new plant to produce heat pumps and a technology centre in Senica (Trnava Region), with the promise to create 841 new jobs by 2026. The company will receive €18 million in investment aid in the form of tax relief.

More on Spectator.sk today:

Thumbelina and Ugly Duckling, soon to be read by Rusyns in their native language Read more 

New block of flats will where former block exploded, only some inhabitants want to return Read more 

Bratislava is finally linked to Košice, through Hungary Read more 

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

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