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Rapid tests increasing the number of daily confirmed positive PCR tests

The press conference on the current situation with the COVID-19 disease was attended by the Deputy Head of the Communicable Disease Centre of the National Institute of Public Health Nuška Čakš Jager, DEOS manager Irena Vincek, the representative of the Ministry of the Interior Borut Jakopin, and the government spokesman Jelko Kacin.

Deputy Head of the Communicable Disease Centre of the National Institute of Public Health Nuška Čakš Jager

Deputy Head of the Communicable Disease Centre of the National Institute of Public Health Nuška Čakš Jager | Author Urad vlade za komuniciranje

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There were a total of 7,178 tests conducted on Tuesday, with 2,429 new infections confirmed, which means that the share of positive tests was 33.8%. 1,285 people required hospital care, which is 14 less than on Tuesday, and there were 199 people being treated in intensive care units, which is 11 fewer than the day before. 57 patients died, which is 2 more than the day before and the second largest daily number of deaths. More deaths were recorded on 23 November, when 59 patients died.

According to Mr Kacin, the high daily number of positive tests is the result of the increasing use of rapid tests in healthcare institutions and care homes, which are, in case of a positive result, automatically checked with PCR tests.

Standing out are also yesterday’s data for individual municipalities, i.e. the high number of newly positive COVID-19 cases: Krško 97, Slovenska Bistrica 73, Novo mesto 77, Koper 66, Idrija 56, Velenje 55, Trebnje 32, Šentjur 30, Ilirska Bistrica 32, Brežice 37, Ljubljana 219, and Maribor 165.

The improved epidemiological situation in Europe was presented by Ms Čakš Jager. The most notable improvement can be seen in France, which last week, compared to the week before, managed to decrease the total number of positive cases by almost 50 percent. France is followed by Belgium, Greece, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, Spain, and Poland with a 20 to 30 percent reduction in the number of positive cases. NIPH data show an increase in the number of positive cases predominantly in the 85-plus age group, which is in line with data from care homes, and in the working age population, i.e. 35 to 54-year olds. The increase of daily positive cases among the residents and employees in care homes has reached its peak and has been on a slight decline in the last days. However, due to the use of rapid tests, these numbers are expected to rise again. Surveying conducted by the NIPH has found that the main reason for daily positive cases remain to be work organisations, which represent 25 percent of all cases. These are followed by the home environment with 23 percent of cases. 27 percent of the respondents were unable to explain the source of the infection. Ms Čakš Jager believes that the region of Gorenjska has been successful in decreasing its 14-day incidence rate because residents have become aware of the large number of positive cases and have become more consistent in the observation of the measures.

Yesterday’s situation in care homes was presented by Mr Kacin. 133 residents have recovered and 271 residents tested positive. 64 employees recovered, of those 45 health professionals, and 81 employees tested positive, of those 42 health professionals. Yesterday, the highest number of new positive cases among residents was recorded in the following homes: Dom starejših Ljubljana Moste Polje 49, SeneCura Dom starejših občanov Maribor 28, Dom starejših občanov Ilirska Bistrica 23, DSO Idrija, Idrija Unit 23 and the Marof Unit 17, DEOS Center starejših občanov Medvode 11, DSO Krško 30, and CSO Ormož 13 residents.

8 DEOS centres, which are managed by Ms Vincek, are home to a total of 1,330 residents with 800 employees seeing to their needs. At the moment, 129 residents and 55 employees are COVID-19 positive.

During the first wave, the home in Horjul stood out in terms of the number of infections with 20 positive residents. In the second wave, the highest numbers have been recorded in the Gornji grad care home with 54 cases. At the moment, the highest numbers can be seen in the Cerknica home with 33 positive residents. Immediately after the first wave ended, they began implementing measures in mid-May preparing for the autumn and followed the recommendations of the NIPH and both ministries. It was important to have the possibility of short-term isolation. For this reason, additional doors were installed in the care homes, which allow them to set up grey zones if necessary. Ms Vincek believes that fast action must be taken once positive cases are discovered. In September, they found it completely unacceptable having to wait for PCR test results for 48 hours and have asked the Ministry of Health that care homes be given priority in laboratories. Now, they need to wait 8 hours for the results and even that can be fateful.

In the beginning of October, they decided to start using rapid tests, with which they discover a number of asymptomatic cases among employees, who are tested once a week.

As the residents’ mental state is important, they encourage video communication between residents and their families whenever possible.

At the moment, the Medvode Unit is working with the National Institute of Biology, measuring the presence of the virus in the home’s sewage. This project represents one more way for early detection of the presence of the virus in care homes.

Finally, Ms Vincek emphasised that in order to prevent the virus from getting into care homes, fast action must be taken. She believes there are three main reasons for the high incidence of COVID-19 in care homes: residents coming back from check-ups in hospitals in September, through visits by family members, and also through asymptomatic employees.

Mr Jakopin explained that entrance to Croatia is only possible with a negative test or if the person self-isolates and subsequently obtains a negative test. There are several exceptions stipulated, which are similar to the exceptions stipulated by Slovenia for the entrance of foreign nationals to our country.

In the end, Mr Kacin presented the Zdrav pozdrav (A Healthy Hello) campaign, whose slogan is Youth Taking Action. The campaign, which is being organised by the Office for Youth, aims at raising the youth’s awareness of the importance of observation of measures while also addressing their confidence, so as to include them as ambassadors in the active endeavours for spreading a positive outlook on the measures.