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National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) recommends that all children wear masks in the first week of school

The speakers at the press conference on the current situation regarding COVID-19 were epidemiologist Mateja Logar from the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Conditions at the University Medical Center Ljubljana, Polonca Truden Dobrin from the NIPH, who is an expert on child and adolescent health, and the Government spokesperson, Ambassador Jelko Kacin.

Government spokesperson for COVID-19 Jelko Kacin talks to the press.

Government spokesperson for COVID-19 Jelko Kacin talks to the press. | Author Nebojša Tejić, STA

On Monday, 41 cases of coronavirus infections were confirmed from 1415 tests performed. Twenty-five COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, two remain in intensive care and there were no new deaths. Among the new cases, five were imported from abroad, but the majority of cases were people that had already been in quarantine. Ten confirmed cases come from the age group from 35 to 44 and nine from 45 to 54.

Ms Logar presented the results of the most recent surveys on COVID-19 infections in children. It has been found that COVID-10 infections in children are as common as in adults, but with a slightly different clinical presentation, and regarding spreading the virus, older children and teenagers spread the virus much more often that previously thought. Children may experience only very mild symptoms, but subsequent health issues have not been excluded. The epidemologist underlined that the measures are not too complicated and that children learn very fast and are capable of understanding and respecting them, which is why wearing masks will not be problematic for them and will not cause them mental stress.

Finally, Ms Logar pointed out that there are many conspiracy theories about the coronavirus circulating on social media and called on people to believe the findings of experts who have invested a lot of time and effort in their professional education on the basis of which they can give reliable information about what is happening with the virus and how to fight it.

Ms Truden Dobrin began by stressing that the NIPH recommends that this week all children, including those in the first three grades of primary school, wear masks when in common rooms of the school. This recommendation is based on the average daily number of confirmed cases of local transmission in the last seven days in Slovenia and applies if this number exceeds 20. The NIPH will decide on the extension of this recommendation at the end of each week.

The aim of the NIPH's recommendations for schools is to limit any infections to individual classes. This is also why schools are encouraged to ensure that children from different classes do not mix, but when they do, to keep safe distance and wear protective masks. The parents are recommended not to enter school buildings. This recommendation also applies to any person who is not a student or member of school staff. Parents should arrange for parent-teacher conferences to be done remotely.

The NIPH, together with all other competent authorities, strives to ensure that the school programmes will be delivered in person throughout the school year and that there will be no need to close schools or alternate between different groups of students learning at school and learning at home.