Corona pandemic: Slovakia goes into two-week lockdown

As of: 25.11.2021 8:38 a.m.

In Slovakia, the pandemic is beyond all known dimensions: the clinics are overcrowded, the incidences continue to rise. The president has now given an incendiary speech – and the government is pulling the emergency brake.

By Peter Lange, ARD Studio Prague

“I have the feeling that I live in a country that I don’t understand,” says Zuzana Caputova after visiting a hospital in Bratislava. The people in Slovakia are unlikely to have seen their president so frustrated and upset. She continues:

I don’t know what more to see than overcrowded hospitals, people dying from ventilators who won’t return home. What more do you have to see than the tired health workers?

Peter Lange
ARD-Studio Prag

President: Lockdown “inevitable”

She also does not understand the hatred that hits those who try to save people. And to the government: “The experts say and the consilium clearly recommends restricting mobility. That we need a lockdown. Yes, it is not a popular measure, but it is absolutely inevitable.”

The four-party government had so far only been able to agree on restrictions for unvaccinated people in lengthy consultations, but without restricting their freedom of movement.

Slovakia is doing the worst in the current pandemic wave. On Tuesday, 10,300 positive PCR tests were registered – another high. To make the relation based on a population of 5.5 million clear: That would correspond to around 150,000 infections per day in Germany.

Hospitals at the limit

The hospitals in Slovakia are practically busy with 3200 Covid patients. There is almost no space left in the intensive care units. Tomas Sulik is the head of intensive care medicine at the hospital in Trencin, a town near the Czech border. He sees the country on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. In his clinic, not all patients can be adequately cared for. For the time being, we only select patients who are severely polymorbid and who have no long-term perspective of surviving on the ventilator. We’re on the verge of triage, “says Sulik.

Mangel an Personal

In addition to the large number of patients, what is troubling the Slovak healthcare system is the lack of staff. A consequence of the frustration of doctors and nurses after the last few waves, says Peter Vislolajsky, head of the doctors’ unions. The government did nothing to keep the people: “Today we are missing over 1,300 nurses who have left the health system. And hundreds of experienced doctors have also left. We have less capacity today than during the Covid wave last winter.” says Visolajsky.

Criticism of government

“It must be clearly stated that the Slovak government bears full responsibility for the current situation,” said Peter Pellegrini, ex-prime minister and now one of the opposition leaders. “Prime Minister Eduard Heger failed in preparation for the third wave as much as a predecessor failed in preparation for the second wave,” he adds.

Late on Wednesday afternoon, after another day of tough deliberations, President Caputova’s appeal was heard by the government: In Slovakia, an emergency will be imposed at midnight for an initial 90 days. And for the next two weeks, everyone will be locked down again. Only the schools remain open.

Country under in Slovakia

Peter Lange, ARD Prague, 24.11.2021 · 07:25

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