Good evening. Catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes with the Wednesday, November 3, 2021 edition of Today in Slovakia. We wish you a pleasant read.
Half of Slovakia will be in the black tier
The pandemic situation is deteriorating.
The seven-day average of hospitalisations has increased to 1,454, up by 51 percent compared with the previous week, while the number of hospitalised patients with Covid rose to 1,774 (up 45 percent). At the same time, the average daily number of Covid-related deaths went up from 10 in the previous week to 28.
“This is probably the worst thing we’re experiencing,” said Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO) after the November 3 cabinet session, referring to the steep increase in hospitalisations and deaths in the past week.
He admitted the anti-pandemic measures applied based on the alert system, called the Covid automat, might even be toughened up if the situation continues worsening. The group of experts who serve as an advisory body to the Health Ministry should meet tomorrow to discuss potential changes to the system, with one topic being some relaxed measures for fully vaccinated people in black-tier districts. Currently, they face several restrictions.
The worsening situation is also reflected in the map of districts. From next Monday, there will only be two in the orange tier, meaning they will apply the least-strict measures. Another seven will be in the red tier, 34 in the dark-red tier, and 36 in the black tier.
The situation has also worsened in Bratislava, which will be in the red tier from next week. However, Mayor Matúš Vallo stressed this is the worst possible tier the city will likely be placed in since the vaccination rate of its inhabitants aged 50 years and more has exceeded 75 percent. This threshold enables a respective district to lower its tier by two levels.
“Still, we need to say the situation is very serious here as well, and if we didn’t use this wild card, we would probably be in the dark-red or black tier like most Slovak towns,” Vallo wrote on Facebook.
Lottery for the vaccinated had almost zero effect
The lottery for vaccinated people not only had almost zero effect in luring people to vaccinate themselves against coronavirus, but it also failed to address a critical section of inhabitants – old people who are the most threatened by the virus, the Sme daily reported.
The logic of the competition counted on the state's willingness to pay money for a prize supposed to motivate people to get vaccinated, instead of paying to cure infected people in hospitals. Senior citizens are the most expensive to treat.
The prize money totaling €27 million had an even smaller impact on lowering the strain of Covid patients in hospitals than originally expected.
Foreign scientific studies as well as Slovak analysts have been pointing out that rather than a top prize for just a few people, a smaller sum paid out to everyone who opts for vaccination would be more motivating.
From the start of the lottery on August 1 until its completion on October 31, 259,500 people were vaccinated with at least the first dose. The state does not know how many were motivated to get vaccinated by the lottery.
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More coronavirus and vaccination developments
- 5,361 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 19,150 PCR tests performed on November 2, which is a new record since the third wave started. The number of people in hospitals has increased to 1,774 and 36 more deaths were reported on Tuesday. The vaccination rate is at 45.56 percent; 2,505,987 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
- The Health Ministry has launched a study on antibodies against the novel coronavirus in selected regions. The aim is to find out more about the immunity a person who has not been vaccinated against Covid-19.
- 56 percent of children aged 12-17 years in Bratislava have been vaccinated. In Senec, 51 percent have been vaccinated, in Pezinok 45 percent, and in Trnava and Dunajská Streda 36 percent.
- 8 percent of pupils had to stay in quarantine this week, while 92 percent attended in-person education at schools. More than 290,000 testing kits for self-testing were used last week, with a positivity rate of 1.2 percent. PCR tests detected about 7,000 infected pupils, i.e. 0.9 percent of the total number of schoolchildren in Slovakia.
- Most people in Slovakia do not expect the third pandemic wave to have a worse impact than the previous one, while one-third said they are not prepared for it from a financial standpoint. Slightly more than one-quarter of people would approve of a nationwide lockdown if the situation gets worse, according to the latest edition of the “How are you, Slovakia?” survey.
After more than a year and a half, the United States has decided to lift its ban on foreign national travellers entering the country by air. Starting on November 8, every foreigner fully vaccinated against Covid will be able to travel to the US. This includes visitors from the European Union.
Picture of the day
A 15-metre-tall Christmas tree has been installed on Bratislava's Main Square. The fir, weighing in at 2.1 tonnes, was donated by an inhabitant from the Dúbravka borough. The Christmas tree is an inseparable part of the Christmas atmosphere in the city, much like the Christmas markets on the Main Square, which the city plans to hold this year.
Feature story for today
The recently introduced university reform does not seem to have the support of universities, which are threatening to strike. They object particularly to the fact that it would give management boards more power. If the Education Ministry fails to push the reform through, Slovakia may lose about €0.5 billion from the recovery fund.
In other news
- The Czech company Energetický a Průmyslový Holding (EPH) reportedly plans to sell its minority, 49-percent share in the regional distribution company Stredoslovenská Energetika Holding. There are several potential buyers; a Hungarian state-owned energy company is allegedly the top contender.
- Slovakia reported a general government deficit of 5.5 percent of GDP, or €5.062 billion, last year, up by 4.17 percentage points year-on-year. The public debt amounted to €55.009 billion, as stems from the annual report approved by the cabinet on Wednesday. On the EU level, 13 countries had a higher deficit than Slovakia, and 13 had more debt.
- Slovakia will have a new nature reserve from December 1 – the
Primeval Forests of Slovakiathe Old Growth Forests of Slovakia - following the order approved by the cabinet on Wednesday. It will include 76 localities across the country.
- The Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute issued a warning against strong wind for several districts in western and northern Slovakia, which will be in place from this evening until tomorrow noon. The districts of northern Slovakia should also prepare for a second-level warning against strong wind tomorrow.
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