News digest: Older pupils switch to remote learning

The Delta wave seems to be receding, but Omicron poses a threat. The Largest in Business rankings are out.

(Source: / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Read the Monday, December 13, 2021 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.

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Third wave seems to be receding

Given the epidemiological parameters of newly-infected and hospitalised patients, it seems that the third pandemic wave in Slovakia, dubbed the Delta wave, has already peaked, as the Sme daily reported.

This has been proven also by the seven-day average of people newly infected by the Delta variant of Covid according to the districts, as shown on the map of the Science Helps initiative.

The districts in the northeast are of the best, green colour, similar to districts in the east, south of central Slovakia and part of western Slovakia. These were the most hit by Delta at the beginning of the pandemic.

While the Delta variant seems to be leaving, the Omicron is only arriving. The first three cases in Slovakia were confirmed on December 11. Apart from Slovakia, another 22 EU countries have reported the occurrence of Omicron cases as of December 13.

There is not much knowledge about the new strain. It is assumed that it is more infectious than Delta, but does not cause a serious course of the disease. Observers hope that Omicron causes only mild symptoms because if not, Slovakia’s hospitals, already filled to capacity, might not be able to handle it.

For a deeper insight into current affairs, check out our Last Week in Slovakia, published earlier today. You can sign up for the newsletter here.

More coronavirus and vaccination developments

  • 2,370 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 6,963 PCR tests performed on December 12. The number of people in hospitals is 3,332, while 61 more deaths were reported on Sunday. The vaccination rate is at 49.07 percent, 2,698,773 people having received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • All pupils of grades five through nine of primary schools and all grades of secondary schools switched to remote learning today; they will receive education in this mode only until Friday, December 17, as the Christmas school holiday starts on December 20. In-person education continues at primary schools for children with special educational needs, primary schools in medical facilities, as well as kindergartens and grades one through four of primary schools.
  • Businesses that had to close their premises in late November or early December due to anti-pandemic measures and employ no more than 50 employees will be entitled to state assistance from the First Aid+ scheme. The contribution will depend on a drop of their revenues, which needs to be higher than 40 percent. Not everybody is happy with the decision.
  • Based on changes to the legislation adopted by the parliament on Friday, the state will take responsibility for the side effects of vaccines against Covid-19, instead of hospitals, vaccination centres and outpatient departments. The law is retroactive, which means the state's responsibility is effective since the day the first vaccine was administered in Slovakia on December 26, 2020.
  • Fully vaccinated people or those who recovered from Covid in the past six months should be able to meet with their families during Christmas, as stems from the Sunday coalition council meeting. Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO nominee) should present a concrete solution on Tuesday (December 14) at the cabinet session. (Sme)
  • More than 2.3 million users have downloaded the GreenPass app, where the EU Digital Covid Certificates can be downloaded; and more than 70,000 users have downloaded the OverPass app, used to scan and check QR codes when customers enter the shops or other premises.

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The Largest in Business

More than 500 companies filled out the questionnaire for the Largest in Business yearbook. Its latest edition is available in our online shop.

The yearbook provides information not just about the largest companies in 50 categories, but specifies which sectors were successful during the pandemic and which companies grew in challenging conditions.

After many years, there is a new leader among retail chains; the arrival of the Clarion brand, part of the hotel segment, was announced in Slovakia, and the largest taxpayer in the field of non-financial enterprises contributed almost €240 million to the government budget.

The Largest in Business rankings was created in cooperation with the Sme daily and the Finstat company. The key parameter for these rankings was revenue, but in some categories, it was a combination of several criteria (e.g. turnover, number of employees, etc.). Within the financial sector, the ranking was typically based on asset value.

Find out more in our article.

Picture of the day

President Zuzana Čaputová received the Peace Light of Bethlehem from the members of the Scouting Slovakia organisation in the Presidential Palace on December 13.

In other news

  • The trust in Smer chair Robert Fico is as high as when he ruled the country. He is currently the third most trusted politician in Slovakia, after President Zuzana Čaputová and his former party mate Peter Pellegrini, who now chairs Hlas. This stems from a recent poll carried out by Focus for the TV Markíza broadcaster in the second half of November.
  • Bus carrier Slovak Lines has confirmed that there is no agreement between the company and the new operator of bus transport in Bratislava Region, the Arriva company. Arriva, which has seen problems with the outage of lines since it took over suburban transport in the region in mid-November, claims to have signed a deal with other carriers that will help ensure transport. Last week, the company managed to dispatch 70-75 percent of all lines. Yet, Bratislava Region insists on penalties for the failure to ensure all lines, and the fine will accumulate until the transport amounts to at least 95 percent of all lines.
  • Employment recorded the most significant increase solely in information and communication activities in October 2021 compared to a year before, by 8.3 percent; and there was also a slight increase in selected market services (by 0.1 percent year-on-year). The average nominal monthly wage increased in all the monitored sectors; it grew the most in accommodation – by 20.8 percent annually, reaching €866, according to the Statistics Office.
  • Even though the turnover of industry continued falling in October, the downward trend slowed down to less than 5 percent – the turnout fell by 4.3 percent, compared with a decline of 9.3 percent in September 2021. The turnover remained short of pre-pandemic levels by 7.1 percent. Construction recovered from a year-on-year decline, but in comparison with October 2019, the industry still lagged behind in double digits (by 15.6 percent), the Statistics Office reported.
  • The completion of Višňové tunnel near Žilina, which is part of the cross-country D1 highway, will be delayed by several months as it is in worse condition than expected. The constructors will need more concrete to finish the temporary vault, and have to repair most of the permanent vault, which is too thin.
  • More than 75 percent of entrepreneurs want the state to take on a greater role in the management of universities. The Slovak government should share responsibility, create an environment supportive of scientific institutions and employers, as well as motivate universities to cooperate, as stems from a poll carried out by the Business Alliance of Slovakia (PAS), in which 50 legal entities and five self-employed from all Slovakia took part.

More on today:

New investments, but also layoffs. The pandemic is not the only influence on the business sector in Slovakia Read more 

Trenčín named 2026 European Capital of Culture, joining Oulu Read more 

Journey to the Centre of the Earth: Geldek a Jelenec Read more 

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