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Self-testing of pupils and high-school students is an act of intergenerational solidarity

At the press conference on the current situation regarding COVID-19 Franc Vindišar, State Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Damir Orehovec, State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, Deana Potza from the Health Inspectorate, and Alojz Sladič, Head of the General Safety and Security Planning Section from the General Police Division of the General Police Directorate were present.

In the beginning, Maja Bratuša presented the solutions adopted yesterday by the Government. Subject to prior consultation with the Expert Group at the Ministry of Health, members of the Government learned about the current epidemiological situation. Based on this information, they established that the criteria for the transition to the green phase of the plan for the release of measures had not been fulfilled yet.

The Government issued an Ordinance determining the conditions of entry into the Republic of Slovenia to contain and control the COVID-19 infectious disease. The Ordinance will enter into force on Saturday, 22 May 2021, and will be valid until Sunday, 30 May 2021 inclusively. With this Ordinance, checkpoints on road connections with Hungary are abolished. It was also adopted that recovered patients from COVID-19 are to be listed among those allowed to enter the country without quarantine or testing.

Any person coming from the countries or administrative units of countries on the red list is ordered to enter quarantine at home, unless the present the following when entering the Republic of Slovenia:

  • proof of vaccination against COVID-19 with a single dose of vaccine recognised in the Republic of Slovenia within a maximum period of eight months from the positive PCR test result or the onset of symptoms, with protection being established on the day of vaccination.

The validity of measures from the Ordinance on temporary measures to reduce the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19 and the Ordinance on the mandatory installation of hand sanitiser dispensers in apartment buildings is extended until 30 May 2021.

Based on current data, in total 3,852 PCT tests and 28,868 rapid antigen tests were carried out yesterday. Based on PCR tests, 358 new cases of infections were confirmed, totalling 9.3 per cent. The seven-day average number of infections lowered to 384, and the 14-day incidence continues to fall, amounting to 384, based on data published today. Currently, 363 patients are treated in hospitals due to COVID-19, 110 of whom are on intensive care units. Yesterday, 25 patients were admitted to hospitals anew, and 23 patients were dismissed. Another seven persons died. Today, by 8 a.m., 586,942 persons were vaccinated with one dose, and 306,256 persons with two doses.

Self-testing of pupils and high-school students

Afterwards, Franc Vindišar, State Secretary at the Ministry of Health, presented the self-testing method of pupils and high-school students. On 14 May 2021, the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices of the Republic of Slovenia (JAZMP) approved the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) to use self-testing tests. At the same time, it was decided to start self-testing as early as this school year. Self-testing will occur at home, which is more manageable from a logistical perspective because if a child is positive, they stay at home. This will also high-school students and pupils to influence the course of the epidemic, too, said State Secretary Vindišar.

Based on the Decision of JAZMP, the tests, which are already in primary and high schools, will be provided with instructions. If necessary, the civil protection service will come to the aid if any repackaging will be required. Appropriately marked tests will be distributed in schools to pupils and high-school students who will decide to self-test voluntarily. It is expected that high-school students will receive these tests as early as Friday, 21 May. The start of self-testing of high-school students is scheduled for Monday, 24 May. In primary schools, dates are still being adjusted because they are waiting for instructions on the procedures for repackaging tests. However, the start is scheduled for the beginning of June.

Vindišar further stated that the self-testing of high-school students and pupils is scheduled every seven days. Pupils and high-school students are to be given one test a week, which means five tests a month. Self-testing shall be carried out voluntarily by pupils and high-school students who are not COVID-19 recovered patients, those with more than six months since the infection, and those who have not been vaccinated. The distribution of tests at schools will be provided by the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief. Pupils and high-school students will be given tests at the schools. A condition for self-testing at home is that the pupil or high-school student feels healthy and has no acute respiratory or gastrointestinal infection. In case of symptoms, the high-school student or parents must contact the personal physician, who will prescribe them isolation and provide further instructions.

Waste generated from self-testing and cleaning of rooms should be placed in a plastic garbage bag and, when full, tied tightly. After being placed in the bag, the waste is no longer to be touched. The bag should be placed in another plastic bag, tied tightly and labelled. It should be separated from the rest of the waste so that it is not accessible to children. It must be kept separately for at least 72 hours before being placed in a mixed municipal waste container. Full and labelled bags with waste from voluntary self-testing should never be opened.

In case of a positive test result, the high-school student or parents shall inform the personal physician, who orders the pupil or high-school student to undergo a PCR test. The pupil or high-school student should wait for the PCR test results at home. In self-insulation, they should not leave home and limit contacts with other persons. In the case of a positive PCR-test, the high-school student, pupil or parents shall inform the school and the pupil’s or high-school student’s physician. The headmaster should act according to the NIJZ, identify close and high-risk contacts, and take the prescribed measures to contain the infection. In case of a negative PCR-test, a high-school student or pupil shall continue the educational process.

At the end of his presentation, Vindišar asked all high-school students and pupils to take a responsible approach to self-testing. He pointed out that each of us, including the younger generation, could influence the course of the epidemic. Self-testing is also an act of intergenerational solidarity, concluded State Secretary Vindišar.

The educational process takes place in preschools, schools and faculties

Damir Orehovec, State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, expressed satisfaction that the epidemic is calming down and that Slovenia is in the yellow phase. Namely, this means that the educational process takes place in preschools, schools and faculties. He stressed that all self-protection rules should be taken into account.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport would like to see this situation both in the autumn as well as throughout the coming school year. Hence, it welcomes the intention to self-testing of high-school students and pupils voluntarily. He pointed out that self-testing would be voluntary, and it is being introduced in this school year as a testing method.

He added that it is crucial for additional relaxation in education to continue to follow the recommendations of the NIJZ and that the entire system still operates in the so-called „bubbles“. In the following period, schools in nature, extracurricular activities, swimming courses in preschools and primary schools are allowed again. The implementation of schools in nature is possible only within one department, i.e., a bubble. In line with the recommendations of the NIJZ, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport recommends schools to make the most of Centres for School and Outdoor Education, where security is adequately provided.

Once again, it is permitted to carry out activities outside institutions – excursions are possible while considering the NIJZ and provided that the event takes place inside the bubble. It is possible to visit museums, libraries, theatres, galleries and the like again. It also recommended that activities should be carried out in the open to the major possible extent.

Deana Potza presented a report relating to the period from 10 to 16 May, when the inspectorates carried out a total of 2,785 inspections. Twenty-three misdemeanour sanctions, 208 warnings under the Minor Offences Act, and 179 administrative measures were issued. The health inspectorate carried out 593 inspections and issued eight warnings under the Minor Offences Act, seven warnings under the Inspection Act, and two regulatory decisions.

Alojz Sladič presented the police surveillance report and said that the Police have carried out surveillance at 12,182 locations in the last seven days, slightly fewer than a week ago. A total of 463 infringements were detected, and a warning was issued 83 per cent of the time. At the same time, the Police note that the overall number of infringements found is steadily decreasing, the proportion of alerts increases. The Police had served Certificates of home quarantine in the last seven days to 7,311 persons, which is twice as much as the week before when 3,601 persons were issued a quarantine order.