PICTURES: New Slovakian Prime Minister, President Don Masks for Inauguration

JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images
JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images

The President of Slovakia, the Prime Minister of Slovakia, and members of his new right-leaning, anti-graft coalition government donned protective masks and gloves for their swearing-in.

Slovakia, which split from the neighbouring Czech Republic, or Czechia, in the 1990s, elected President Zuzana Čaputová, of the left-liberal Progressive Slovakia party, in June 2019.

Prime Minister Igor Matovič, of the right-populist Ordinary People (OLaNO) party, meanwhile, entered office only this month, after successful talks to form a four-party coalition government, with the Chinese coronavirus pandemic an urgent priority.

Both the President and the Prime Minister have attempted to set a strong example to the country of 5.6 million people, pointedly donning protective face masks and gloves for the new government’s swearing-in and early press conferences.

Slovak police officers unload a government Airbus-319, shortly after it arrived from Beijing, China, loaded with one hundred thousand of test kits for the novel coronavirus and one million face masks at M.R. Stefanilk airport in Bratislava, Slovakia on March 19, 2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Newly appointed Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic (L), leader of the OLaNO anti-graft party and his predecessor Peter Pellegrini (R) wear gloves and face masks as they pose for a photo during a handover ceremony at the Office of Governmnent on March 21, 2020 in Bratislava. (Photo by VLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Newly appointed Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic (C), leader of the OLaNO anti-graft party, members of his cabinet and President Zuzana Caputova (R) take part in a swearing-in ceremony of the new four-party coalition government on March 21, 2020 at the Presidential palace in Bratislava. – The ceremony was held without members of the press and all appointed government members wore gloves and face mask to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. (Photo by MICHAL SVITOK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Newly appointed Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic (L), leader of the OLaNO anti-graft party shakes hands with President Zuzana Caputova during a swearing-in ceremony of the new four-party coalition government on March 21, 2020 at the Presidential palace in Bratislava. – The ceremony was held without members of the press and all appointed government members wore gloves and face mask to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. (Photo by MICHAL SVITOK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Newly appointed Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic (L), leader of the OLaNO anti-graft party and Ministers of the new four-party coalition government arrive for a family picture after a swearing-in ceremony on March 21, 2020 outside the Presidential palace in Bratislava. – The ceremony was held without members of the press and all appointed government members wore gloves and face mask to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova (C) arrives for a family picture with Ministers of the new four-party coalition government after a swearing-in ceremony on March 21, 2020 outside the Presidential palace in Bratislava. – The ceremony was held without members of the press and all appointed government members wore gloves and face mask to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP) (Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Newly appointed Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic (3rdL), leader of the OLaNO anti-graft party shakes hands with President Zuzana Caputova (C) after a swearing-in ceremony of the new four-party coalition government on March 21, 2020 outside of the Presidential palace in Bratislava. – The ceremony was held without members of the press and all appointed government members wore gloves and face mask to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Newly appointed Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic (C-L), leader of the OLaNO anti-graft party and President Zuzana Caputova (C-R) pose for a family picture with Ministers after a swearing-in ceremony of the new four-party coalition government on March 21, 2020 outside of the Presidential palace in Bratislava. – The ceremony was held without members of the press and all appointed government members wore gloves and face mask to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Newly appointed Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic (C), leader of the OLaNO anti-graft party and members of his cabinet flash the sign of victory during a family picture after a swearing-in ceremony of this new four-party coalition government on March 21, 2020 in Bratislava. – The ceremony was held without members of the press and all appointed government members wore gloves and face mask to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. (Photo by VLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Newly appointed Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic, leader of the OLaNO anti-graft party arrives for a press conference after first meeting of new government in Office of Government in Bratislava on March 21, 2020. – Face masks and gloves were mandatory attire as Slovakia’s president swore-in the EU country’s new government in Bratislava amid the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by VLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Newly appointed Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic, leader of the OLaNO anti-graft party and his ministers of the new government attend a press conference after first meeting of new government in Office of Government in Bratislava on March 21, 2020. – Face masks and gloves were mandatory attire as Slovakia’s president swore-in the EU country’s new government in Bratislava amid the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by VLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Newly appointed Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic (C), Minister of Finance (L) and Minister of Interior Roman Mikulec (R) wearing gloves and face masks attend the first meeting of their new coalition government at the Office of Governmnent in Bratislava on March 21, 2020. (Photo by VLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP via Getty Images)

There has been some dispute over the utility — or lack thereof — of face masks in fighting the coronavirus, with some suggesting that only high-end N95 respirators with clean filters are of use, with simpler surgical masks only being effective for health workers in a clinical setting, for a limited number of uses.

Others, however, have pointed to studies showing that even simple surgical masks achieve “a 3.4 fold (95 per cent CI 1.8 to 6.3) reduction in viral aerosol shedding”, and that an “80 per cent compliance rate” in wearing masks “essentially eliminated… influenza outbreak[s]”.

Some have suggested that ubiquitous mass use in countries Japan, for example, explains the relative lack of Chinese coronavirus in that country, despite relatively crowded urban environments and an older population — although this hypothesis has not yet been proven epidemiologically.

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