News digest: Slovakia spent €40 million in the past three months to treat Covid patients

Slovakia supports Poland and the Baltic states in their efforts to protect their border with Belarus. The European Commission has launched legal action against five countries, including Slovakia.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Read the Thursday, December 2 edition of Today in Slovakia to catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes. We wish you a pleasant read.

Justice minister proposes punishing hoaxers with prison

Coalition party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) is filing a criminal complaint against an unknown perpetrator suspected of spreading false, alarming news.

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SaS MP and head of the Parliamentary Health Committee Jana Bittó Cigániková reported that their complaint concerns the billboards of People's Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) featuring disinformation on vaccination. On its billboards, ĽSNS claims that Covid-19 vaccines contain cells from human fetuses.

"They do it because they have no other campaign and in this way, they want to discourage people from getting vaccinated," Bittó Cigániková said. "It is deplorable and blameable, and we consider it something that we should not tolerate in our society. That is why we are filing a criminal complaint."

Spreading hoaxes and disinformation could be soon punished as a crime. Justice Minister Mária Kolíková (SaS) proposed an amendment to the Criminal Code.

The creation and spreading of false information that can “cause serious concern among at least part of the population,” threatens lives or influences the decision of inhabitants on serious issues, can be punished with one to five years in prison.

If the perpetrator has a personal motive, like property benefit, the punishment is three to eight years in prison, and if a national emergency is declared, the punishment can be as high as four to 10 years in prison.

The proposal is currently in the initial stages of the legislation process, as it has been submitted for interdepartmental review only.

Slovakia supports Poland and Baltics

Slovakia supports Poland and the Baltic states in their efforts to protect their border with Belarus. It also denounces the destructive policy of the Belarussian regime as well as hybrid attacks on the outer EU border and against its member state by creating new migration routes with the ambition to destabilise the democratic society of European countries.

This stems from the Slovak parliament's resolution concerning the outer border of the EU and Belarus accepted on December 2.

“Maintaining the integrity of the EU's eastern border and NATO is crucial,” the resolution reads.

At the same time, parliament expressed its concern and deep regret over the repeated and persistent attacks by Belarus in an effort to destabilise the region. It strictly rejects the abuse of migrants for political purposes and deplores the actions of states that abuse people from third countries as hostages.

Coronavirus and vaccination news

  • The upper grades of primary schools and secondary schools will close and switch to remote learning from December 6 in the districts of Kysucké Nové Mesto, Bardejov, Gelnica, Spišská Nová Ves, Považská Bystrica, Púchov and Ilava. Altogether, schools for older pupils have closed in 31 out of 79 districts.
  • 7,853 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 22,945 PCR tests performed on Wednesday. The number of people in hospitals is 3,394; 103 more deaths were reported on Wednesday. The vaccination rate is at 48.16 percent; 2,648,585 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • The cost of treating Covid-19 patients has risen to €40 million over the past three months. Of this amount, up to €37.5 million, or almost 94 percent, was used to treat unvaccinated patients, the Health Ministry wrote on Facebook. In the vast majority of cases, the treatment of unvaccinated patients is more demanding, longer, requires more medical staff and is, therefore, more expensive.
  • Over the next three Saturdays, the police will carry out targeted checks in addition to random ones on the borders. They will focus on people's compliance with the measures, the police said.
  • The provision of the law on public health protection that authorises the Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) to issue ordinances as generally binding legislation is in compliance with the Constitution.

Travel info

  • Upon entering Portugal, all passengers are required to show a negative Covid-19 test result. This includes vaccinated people or those who have recovered from Covid, according to the updated conditions of entry into the country, which apply from Wednesday (December 1).
  • Canada requires that even vaccinated people travelling to the country undergo coronavirus tests at the airport.
  • From next week, the United States will tighten entry conditions. All travellers must show a negative coronavirus test result no older than 24 hours when entering the country. Right now, tests results should not be older than three days.

Photo of the day

The morning inversion, the feeling of standing above the clouds and the first rays of the sun are the reasons why Miroslav Čillo from the village of Belá – Dulice, near Martin, can force himself out of his warm bed early in the mornings.

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Feature story for today

"The great thing about Slovakia is that I can enjoy some things on my own, without the crowds. I decide I'm going somewhere and no planning weeks in advance is needed to make sure that a concert isn't sold out," said Miroslava Sotáková, a Slovak living in New York.

The great thing about Slovakia is the lack of crowds, says Slovak living in New York Read more 

In other news

  • Marian Kočner was acquitted in the case of messages smuggled out of custody. The Bratislava I District Court senate ruled on Thursday that his conduct was not a crime. The decision is not valid yet, as the prosecutor of the Regional Prosecutor's Office in Trenčín immediately appealed. The Regional Court in Bratislava will deal with the case.
  • The national carrier Železničná Spoločnosť Slovensko (ZSSK) is recording a fall in the number of train passengers for the second year in a row. In the first ten months of this year, it transported more than 38 million people, down 7.4 percent or three million compared to the same period last year. Compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, it is a decrease of 41.5 percent or 27 million passengers.
  • Inobat Auto has ordered a production line from the Chinese Wuxi Lead, one of the largest companies in the industry, for the upcoming battery research and development centre in Voderady. At full capacity, the line will produce more than 260,000 battery cells per year.
  • The National Highway Company will close the D2 highway in Bratislava on the Lamačská Cesta – Staré Grunty section, including Sitina tunnel, due to maintenance. The closure will take place from December 3 to December 5 between 22:00 and 10:00 in the morning. On December 6, the closure will last only until 4:00 in the morning. Traffic will be redirected to city roads with a diversion to Polianky or Patrónka.
  • Slovakia has to pay €38.5 million based on the decision of the international arbitration with the D4/R7 concessionaire, said Transport Minister Andrej Doležal. The state's valid issuance of construction permits was delayed by nine months.
  • The European Commission has launched legal action against five countries, including Slovakia, for not properly transposing the European Arrest Warrant Directive. The letter, which was also received by France, Malta, Latvia and Portugal, gives the countries two months to inform the commission of their next steps. If these countries do not correct the mistakes in time, the EC can sue them.
  • President Zuzana Čaputová has asked Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OĽANO) to take responsibility and intervene in solving the problems caused by the government's poor response in the fight against the new coronavirus pandemic and the chaos in the adoption of reforms.

Do not miss on today

Don’t respond to suspicious emails or texts from the post, they could be scams Read more  Yes, Andersen visited Bratislava. The rest is just fairy tales Read more  A giraffe, zebra, llama, or camel. Would you date them? Read more  Social café gives eight women from five countries the opportunity to master their skills Read more 

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