Slovakia’s half-hearted lockdown continues as Delta appears to recede

The vaccinated can now do more, but they can’t go to school.

PM Eduard Heger assists with Covid vaccination in the northern-Slovak municipality of Ivachnová. PM Eduard Heger assists with Covid vaccination in the northern-Slovak municipality of Ivachnová. (Source: Facebook of the Health Ministry)

Welcome to your weekly overview of news from Slovakia. The government has traded education for retail. The Delta wave seems to be peaking just as Omicron is first detected in Slovakia. People older than 60 will be paid for getting vaxxed. Some foreigners have problems getting their booster shots. Check out the overview of news from last week in PDF.

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Shops open, schools close

Schoolchildren in Slovakia from (and including) the fifth grade have now attended their last in-person classes this side of the Christmas holidays. The government of Eduard Heger has adjusted the rules of what this country casually calls a lockdown, in an attempt to appease the situation, as Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (an OĽaNO nominee) put it.

The easing of the rules coincides with what appears to be the start of a downward trend in Delta variant infections. The Delta wave has hit Slovakia severely over the past few weeks, claiming about three thousand lives so far. Health Ministry analysts made the estimate based on a fall in the rate of newly diagnosed positive cases as well as an end to the growing trend of new hospital admissions and ambulance interventions, and a fall in the concentration of the virus detected in wastewater samples. Yet the same analysts are now wary about the Omicron variant, which is spreading fast across Europe. Slovakia’s first three cases of Omicron have been confirmed.

On an optimistic note, the new rules have the potential to positively affect the vaccine uptake rate in a country whose Covid vaccination rate still languishes under 50 percent. Apart from the bonus for vaccinated people older than 60 , everyone who has been fully vaccinated can now do non-essential shopping, visit beauty salons, go skiing, and attend fitness centres and church services.

As has become the pandemic habit in Slovakia, the rules come with a number of problems, some of which are completely unnecessary.

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