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Minister Poklukar presents an updated national vaccination strategy

At the government press conference, Minister of Health Janez Poklukar presented the second version of the national COVID-19 vaccination strategy.

Minister Janez Poklukar

Minister Janez Poklukar | Author Ukom

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Some 4,487 PCR tests were carried out yesterday, of which 729 were positive. The proportion of positive tests was 16.2 per cent. Furthermore, 48,003 rapid antigen tests were also performed.

A total of 528 patients are in hospitals, of whom 84 require intensive care, and nine people have died in hospitals. After more than ten days, a larger number of new patients was hospitalised again yesterday, i.e. as many as 58.

The following municipalities stand out as regards yesterday’s number of positive cases: Domžale, Dravograd, Ivančna Gorica, Bohinj, Nova Gorica (11), Ajdovščina and Velenje (13), Ravne na Koroškem and Škofja Loka (15), Kranj (21), Celje (22), Ljubljana (91) and Maribor (20). Yesterday, 14 cases were confirmed in Izola and also in Piran, while 22 were found in Koper in the Coastal–Karst region, which remains the region with the poorest epidemiological situation.

The 7-day incidence rate of new cases amounted to 736 in accordance with the data of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) published today (768 yesterday). The number of hospitalised patients totals 528 (543 yesterday), which is still far away from the transition into the yellow phase, as the threshold is 600 for the first indicator and 500 for the second one.

As of yesterday, some 62 cases of the UK strain were unofficially confirmed in Slovenia and one case of the South African strain. An official report will be made on Wednesday, which will be discussed at the government’s COVID-19 session.

 The national COVID-19 vaccination strategy has been updated

According to Minister Poklukar, the basic objective of the vaccination strategy is to reduce mortality due to COVID-19, improve citizens’ health by preventing the severe course of the coronavirus disease in individuals, unburden the health system, kick-start the economy and restore education, transport, cultural and social life, and other activities which were restricted due to the crisis.

Priority vaccination groups have been defined anew or in more detail in the strategy and certain new vaccination locations. It is mandatory to first vaccinate those population groups who are at the highest risk of a severe course of the disease and death due to COVID-19 and then achieve the highest possible vaccination coverage of at least 60 per cent, i.e. 1,200,000 citizens, as soon as possible. Furthermore, the possibility of storing vaccines, currently waiting on the completion of the registration procedure at the European Medicines Agency (EMA), was also defined.

Priority vaccination groups include persons above 80, then 75 and 70 years of age. These will be followed by a group of particularly vulnerable chronic patients irrespective of their age. Next in line are the diplomats and employees of ministries who travel abroad due to Slovenia’s forthcoming EU Presidency and members of the Slovenian Armed Forces deployed abroad. The next group comprises persons above the age of 65, followed by employees in childcare and education. This group also includes deputies of the National Assembly, the Government, and representatives of the National Council and the Constitutional Court, followed by chronic patients aged between 18 and 64, the age group of persons above 60 years, employees in critical infrastructure and then the rest of the population.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is intended for the age group of 18 to 64 years of age and has already been offered to this age group irrespective of the priority groups. The strategy defines 61 vaccination centres, of which 13 are in hospitals and the Slovenian Armed Forces have one vaccination centre. Information about vaccinating different groups which are not compliant with the strategy, e.g. first year medical students, elderly citizens above 60 years of age, etc., has been disseminated to the public. All such cases will be discussed by the inspectors. The designated 60-per cent immunisation rate has been defined as the minimum necessary to attain the level at which the spread of the epidemic would be sufficiently limited. A new contract was concluded with Pfizer in recent days, on the basis of which Slovenia will receive more than 300,000 additional doses of vaccine in the second quarter. Slovenia will not be purchasing vaccine on its own from manufacturers with whom the EU has concluded agreements and it will also not purchase vaccine from other manufacturers outside the EU.

First decisions made at the Ministry of Health

A new Expert Group for the Containment and Management of the COVID-19 Epidemic has been appointed, consisting of: Mateja Logar (Ljubljana University Medical Centre), Simona Repar Bornšek (Ministry of Health), Bojana Beović (Medical Chamber), Mario Fafangel (NIJZ), Milan Krek (NIJZ), Miroslav Petrovec (Institute of Microbiology and Immunology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ljubljana), Nina Gorišek Miksić (Maribor University Medical Centre), Lucija Mak Uhan (NIJZ, sociologist), Tjaša Žohar Čretnik (National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food), Matjaž Jereb (Ljubljana University Medical Centre). Alenka Forte was appointed the State Secretary and Robert Carotta remains the coordinator for COVID-19 hospital beds.

The Minister met the leadership of the Association of Health Institutions and the management of the Health Insurance Institute with whom he began discussions on a review of expenses acknowledged by the state to the hospitals for treating COVID-19 patients. Minister Poklukar also held separate meetings with the managements of the National Institute of Public Health and the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food.

In cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior and the National Institute of Public Health, the Ministry of Health is striving to prevent the falsification of certificates for PCR testing that were used by a group of citizens who tried to cross the Croatian border this week.