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More hospital admissions than discharges

Maja Ravnikar, director of the National Institute of Biology (NIB), and Robert Carotta, coordinator for hospital beds at the Ministry of Health, took part in a press conference on the current situation regarding the COVID-19 disease.

5,022 PCR tests were carried out on Monday; 981 came back positive. The share was 19.5 percent. 47,037 rapid tests were carried out. 507 patients are hospitalised (494 yesterday, 436 ten days ago), of which 96 require intensive care. Nine people died, all in hospitals. There are currently 10,874 active COVID-19 cases in the country - the number is still growing. The 7-day average number of confirmed infections is 829 (yesterday: 820).

The following municipalities stand out in terms of new positive Covid cases: Celje (52), Šentjur (15), Žalec (27), Brežice (14), Novo mesto (26), Litija (17), Grosuplje (18), Ivančna Gorica (16), Koper (21), Piran (18), Nova Gorica (31), Sežana (14), Ljubljana (120) and Maribor (53).

The data presented by Carotta: the highest number of patients admitted to hospital was recorded in mid-January, i.e. 1,266, at that time, the largest number of patients who required intensive care, i.e. 210. In the light of the reduction in the number of hospital beds, an exit strategy has been defined, which envisages the closure of COVID-19 wards in hospitals, and the reduction in the number of beds, for which five stages of the strategy have been defined:

  • the first stage: if the number of occupied beds drops below 900, hospitals are to reduce the bed capacity by 15 percent of all bed capacity for COVID-19 patients, both medical centres by 10 percent, and Golnik by 20 percent. Topolšica and Sežana are to be excluded - they are to become non-COVID-19 hospitals, providing their pre-COVID-19 activity,
  • the second stage: the number of occupied beds drops below 700,
  • the third stage: the number of occupied beds drops below 500, Ptuj, Trbovlje, Brežice and Izola are to be excluded from hospitals treating COVID-19 patients,
  • the fourth stage: the number of occupied beds drops below 300, Jesenice, Murska Sobota in Slovenj Gradec are to be excluded from hospitals treating COVID-19 patients,
  • the fifth stage: the number of occupied beds drops below 100, only UKC and Golnik are to remain hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.

However, every emergency centre must keep a COVID-19 clinic in order to receive people who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Since 13 March, we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of hospitalised patients, as a result of the release of measures and the spread of new strains.

The amount of virus in wastewater is being measured at 7 purification stations, in the Medvode residential care home, and the primary school in Dragomlje, said Ravnikar. Current trends show an increase in the amount of virus in wastewater in the Maribor and Celje areas. The NIB also measures the share of different strains in the Ljubljana area; the UK version of the strain is present in 30 percent of all samples, and the basic version of the virus represents 60 percent.

At the invitation of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC Ispra, Italy), the NIB team, with their expertise, participated in drawing up of the Recommendation on a common approach to establish systematic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants in wastewaters in the EU. The recommendation, providing guidelines for setting up monitoring in EU Member States, as well as technical specifications that should be provided during monitoring, was drawn up on 17 March, and published on the European Commission's website. The European Commission launched the above-mentioned recommendation campaign within the framework of HERA (Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority).