Bratislava, Slovakia – In an emotional public address, Slovak President Zuzana Caputova urged Slovaks to get vaccinated and expressed her support for a full nationwide lockdown.
Full lockdown necessary, President Zuzana Caputova says
Talking on Tuesday in front of the University Hospital in Bratislava, Caputova argued that a nationwide lockdown for everyone, even though unpopular and “unfair” for people who got vaccinated, was the only solution to stem the spread of the virus and contain the outbreak in Slovakia, one of the worst in the world today.
“Unfortunately, we have no other choice,” she said.
“We need to stop deluding ourselves […] and listen to experts,” the head of state continued in an emotion plea in front of cameras, pointing to the “overcrowded hospitals”, “exhausted medical staff” and all the hospitalized people “who won’t return home.”
“I feel I live in a country I don’t understand,” she added, in reference to the “threats and hatred” faced by some healthcare workers despite their work on the frontline of the pandemic.
Since the beginning of the crisis, Slovakia – a country of 5.5 million people – reported over one million confirmed cases of Covid-19 infections and 14,000 deaths from the virus.
What is the Covid situation in Slovakia?
Slovakia is now one of the worst-hit countries in Europe and has the highest rate of new positive cases relative to population in the world. There are currently more than 3,000 patients hospitalized with Covid-19, including over 500 in intensive care or on ventilators.
Slovakia has the third lowest vaccination rate in the EU, with 45% of its population fully inoculated against Covid-19, and official data indicating that non-vaccinated people account for around 80% of serious coronavirus cases in the country. The bloc’s average vaccination rate stands at approximately 65% of the population today.
The Slovak government led by Prime Minister Eduard Heger last week introduced tight restrictions, banning unvaccinated people from bars, restaurants, most services, cultural venues, and public events. But the measure might prove too little, too late, with the threat of saturated hospitals now more real than ever and the epidemic showing no immediate signs of slowing.
The Prime Minister’s office said on Monday that authorities were “intensely” considering a full lockdown of three weeks for all, vaccinated or not, in a way similar to neighbouring Austria.
“The Prime Minister is aware it is necessary to resolve the situation immediately so we can have a calmer Christmas and be able to relax measures in view of the coming tourism season,” his office said in a statement.