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Press conferences are Government representatives’ primary means of communication

Today’s press conference on the current situation with regard to COVID-19 was held by Bojana Beović, head of the advisory group at the Ministry of Health, Slavko Krištofelc, head of the Occupational Safety and Health Inspection Service at the Labour Inspectorate, Deana Potza of the Health Inspectorate, and Deputy Director General of the Police Tomaž Pečjak.

4,271 PCR tests were carried out on Tuesday, with 872 new positive cases confirmed (20.4%). 24,005 rapid antigen tests were also performed. 619 patients were in hospital yesterday, 29 fewer than on Tuesday, of whom 116 were in intensive care, which is 10 fewer than on Tuesday. There were 10 deaths, all in hospitals, while the total number of deaths has gone past 4,000 and currently stands at 4,006. The municipalities with the highest number of new positive cases compared to yesterday were: Koper (49), Piran (17), Kranj (35), Škofja Loka (15), Nova Gorica (15), Ptuj (19), Ljubljana (116) and Maribor (36). According to data released today by the NIJZ, the seven-day average number of positive cases is 768, while yesterday this figure was 838.

Beović to step down as head of advisory group

With regard to communication, Beović noted that appearances by Government representatives have to be organised in a systematic and well thought out manner in order to ensure the quality and accuracy of the presentation of public information. The primary form of communication is appearances by Government representatives and their responses to journalists at press conferences, and therefore appearing as guests on evening news programmes is not necessary.

The head of the advisory group at the Ministry of Health says that following her apppointment today as the head of the Medical Chamber of Slovenia, it would no longer be appropriate for her to continue to head the advisory group. Once a new health minister has been appointed, she will talk with him and they will come to an appropriate decision.

Rapid tests are epidemiologically extremely important for containing the spread of the virus. Optimally, although this is not realistic, people should take them every three days in order to ensure the maximum level of population screening. A third wave of the virus could occur as a consequence of the easing of restrictions or the spread of new variants of the virus. The vaccination plan for people who have recovered from Covid states that they will be vaccinated 6 months from the date that they were officially confirmed as testing positive for the novel coronavirus. This solution is in line with the WHO recommendations. Based on official and unofficial confirmed positive cases, Slovenia has achieved approximately 30% immunity among the population, which helps to curb the spread of the virus.

General report of the labour inspectorate

The Occupational Safety and Health Inspection Service, which is led by Krištofelc, carried out around 7,000 inspections in 2020, which is 2,000 more than the previous year. They issued 3,500 measures and found more than 8,000 violations. 4,000 inspections were carried out in January of this year solely in connection with the coronavirus.

The inspectors checked how employers implemented measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and how much employees are adhering to them. They focused on the use of masks, maintaining safe distances, ventilation of work areas, the organisation of lunch breaks and arrival to and departure from work. 

In the past year, several hundred thousand employees have worked from home, while in December 2020 and January of this year more than 1,000 employers reported this form of employment, with around 40,000 employees working from home.

Weekly report of the health inspectorate

Potza presented the weekly report on inspections related to the control of COVID-19 for the period from 8 to 14 February. The total number of inspections carried out by the inspection bodies listed in Coronavirus Relief Package 7 was 3,494. Inspection bodies issued 15 minor offence sanctions, 299 warnings under the Minor Offences Act and 117 administrative measures. The Health Inspectorate conducted 989 inspections, and issued 2 minor offence sanctions, 91 warnings and 4 administrative measures.

120 inspections were carried out in the hospitality sector, and 16 warnings were issued. 368 inspections were conducted in the services sector, and a total of 38 warnings were issued. The Health Inspectorate conducted 244 inspections in outdoor public areas and issued 40 warnings, and no violations were found in 147 inspections in multi-apartment buildings.

In the past week, the Health Inspectorate continued to carry out inspections at primary schools and kindergartens, where they checked the conducting of rapid testing for staff. The initial inspections were carried out together with the Inspectorate for Education and Sport, while this week the Health Inspectorate carried them out independently. The initial findings indicate that all of the institutions are providing staff testing by authorised test providers. In addition, no significant irregularities were detected in the organisation of the testing itself or the notification of the staff.

The Health Inspectorate concluded its inspections of COVID-19 vaccination providers. A total of 112 inspections were carried out, and 17 regulatory decisions were issued to the providers, through which they were ordered to carry out vaccinations in accordance with the National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy. Two procedures are still in progress.

The inspections by the Health Inspectorate are currently focused on service activities that have been permitted to reopen. They will check adherence to the NIJZ recommendations and the testing of employees in the service sector. With regard to the easing of restrictions on shops, the largest number of violations last week were found in connection with failure to maintain a safe distance. Due to staffing issues, many retailers are unable to provide adequate supervision. Therefore, Potza recommends that people continue to do their shopping online. They should only go to a store when they absolutely have to, so that people spend as little time as possible in the store.

Employee lunches can be provided at food service facilities as long as people from only one company are served. Workers from two companies may not occupy the premises at the same time. Lunch at food service facilities is not considered a public gathering, and therefore is not a violation, since e.g. working at companies also does not constitute a public gathering. The case regarding Minister Počivalšek’s visit to the Taverna restaurant has not been concluded yet, as such cases require relatively long proceedings once they have been prepared.

Police report on activities to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic

The report covers the period from Thursday, 11 February to Wednesday, 17 February. In the last seven days, in addition to their regular duties, police officers carried out inspections in a total of 14,957 locations with regard to the implementation of the provisions of Government ordinances. Some inspections were carried out on the basis of 50 reports received from citizens of alleged violations of the ordinances.

A total of 1,012 measures were issued, 37.1% fewer than in the previous week, which is primarily the consequence of the fact that restrictions on travel between municipalities and statistical regions were lifted as of Monday. The Police issued 655 warnings and 342 penalty notices and expedited procedures. In 12 cases they initiated minor offence procedures due to failure to obey a lawful order from a police officer. They notified the Health Inspectorate of the Republic of Slovenia of three violations. Most cases involved infringements of the ordinance on conditions for crossing borders or the ordinance restricting movement – restrictions of assembly, curfew, travelling between municipalities or statistical regions, or mask-wearing.

The police issued a total of 5,927 home quarantine orders at border crossings and checkpoints. They later rescinded 19 of those orders. Police officers thus issued home quarantine orders to 5,908 people in the last seven days, of whom 5,289 were adults and 619 were minors.

Police officers issued the largest number of home quarantine orders at the borders with Croatia (5,725), Austria (125), Hungary (8) and Italy (12). A further 38 home quarantine orders were issued to passengers landing at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport.

The largest number of home quarantine orders were issued to individuals travelling from Bosnia and Herzegovina (3,991), Kosovo (650), Croatia (439), Serbia (361), North Macedonia (245) and Germany (94). Home quarantine orders were issued to individuals travelling to Slovenia from a total of 32 different countries.

A total of 62 people were refused entry at border crossings and checkpoints because they did not meet conditions for entry to or transit through Slovenia, which is significantly fewer than the previous week.