Is “best in Covid” really the best Slovakia can do?

Another lockdown Christmas looms as hospitals fill up. Slovakia shows how a nation that succumbs to irrationality copes with the pandemic.

PM Eduard Heger visited the hospital in Poprad on November 22. PM Eduard Heger visited the hospital in Poprad on November 22. (Source: TASR)

Welcome to your weekly overview of news from Slovakia. Last week marked a significant point in coronavirus-related developments in the country in several respects, so we have adjusted the format of the newsletter: first we sum up what you should know about the Delta wave in Slovakia today, and then we move on to our main story: the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Slovakia.

Coronavirus takes over again

Wednesday was a national holiday in Slovakia and opponents of vaccination, far-right supporters, and various other fringe groups took to the streets to once again reject everything Covid-related, as if the virus cares what they think of it.

Four days later, Slovakia made it to the world’s number one spot, becoming the country with the highest level of coronavirus infection per head of population. Unflattering as this may be, experts mostly point out that it is still hospital admissions that we should be looking at in this wave of the pandemic. With less than half of its population fully vaccinated, Slovakia is likely to do worse than its more vaccinated EU peers. Indeed, over the weekend the number of Covid patients in the country passed 3,000, practically double the figure that the health minister expected this summer at the pandemic’s peak, and also pressing at the limits of hospitals’ abilities to take proper care of both Covid and non-Covid patients.Given this dramatically worsening situation, the lockdown for the unvaccinated that the cabinet of Eduard Heger imposed as of this Monday is most likely not going to do the job. This is not least because there is a problem with it: the measure that epidemiologists deem key in the whole set, OTP (vaccinated, recently recovered or tested) rules for the workplace, has been postponed amid lack of clarity about how it should be implemented.

Can I go to the hairdresser or shopping if I'm not vaccinated? (Q&A about new rules) Read more 

Therefore, experts and even some politicians are now saying that an Austria-style all-out lockdown is the only way, and should be enacted immediately. Speaking to public-service broadcaster RTVS over the weekend, Prime Minister Heger said that the current measures will be assessed in a week’s time.

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