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Slovenia is not yet in the green phase according to ECDC criteria

The press conference focused on the decisions taken by the Government at its 77th and 78th sessions; the decisions were presented by Minister of Health Janez Poklukar, Minister of Public Administration Boštjan Koritnik, the head of the advisory group at the Ministry of Health, Mateja Logar, Inspector Deana Potza from the Health Inspectorate, and Deputy Director-General of the Police Tomaž Pečjak.

Head of the advisory group Mateja Logar in Minister of Health Janez Pokluka

Head of the advisory group Mateja Logar in Minister of Health Janez Poklukar | Author Ukom

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The English variant of the virus continues to dominate

The Government took note of the current epidemiological situation and decided to extend the current measures for another week.

The Government has, among other things, changed conditions for the reopening of the convention industry. From Monday, the number of people in enclosed public spaces or open-air venues with fixed seats will be restricted to 50% of the seating capacity. One seat must be left empty between occupied ones. In open-air venues with no fixed seats, the seats have to be placed at least one metre apart. Service providers are still required to comply with the Recovered-Vaccinated-Tested requirements.

The epidemiological data for Wednesday show that a total of 4,012 PCR tests and 29,583 rapid antigen tests were carried out. Yesterday, the PCR tests confirmed 365 new infections. Thus far, 644,506 people have received their first dose of vaccine and 362,605 have been fully vaccinated.

Maja Bratuša summed up the findings of the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food about the presence of individual variants. The English variant is still dominant, but the Brazilian, Indian, Nigerian and South African variants have also been confirmed in Slovenia.

Minister Poklukar and head of the advisory group Mateja Logar call for compliance with the measures

Minister Poklukar spoke about the current epidemiological situation. He stressed that the epidemic was slowing down for various reasons. In addition to vaccination and the effect of measures from the beginning of May, we have warmer months on our side. Three regions remain in the yellow phase, so the majority of measures this week remain the same as the previous week, stressed Poklukar.

He urged the public to continue to take all the precautions, i.e. social distancing, hand washing and disinfection, wearing of face masks, covering coughs and sneezes, not touching your face, staying at home if sick, etc.

He called on all participants at sports events to express their support for Slovenian athletes while maintaining a safe distance and wearing face masks. Cheering at sports events should give impetus to athletes not the virus, he said. 

The Minister then presented the general healthcare agreement for 2021. This year, the area of the mental health of children and adolescents has been financially strengthened, as experts in child and adolescent psychiatry draw attention to the serious consequences of the epidemic in this part of the population. Due to accessibility problems at the primary healthcare level – which is also a consequence of the epidemic – all unrealised expansion plans regarding teams at general practitioners’ clinics and clinics for children and schoolchildren will be maintained in 2021.

Within the general agreement, the Government also fixed new, lower prices for services related to the treatment of COVID-19, which are based on the information obtained from Ljubljana University Medical Centre and Maribor Medical Centre.

As the first step in laying down new healthcare staff standards with regard to the actual staffing needs in homes for the elderly and special institutions for adults, a new Nursing III standard was prescribed in order to employ urgently needed nursing assistants and hospital attendants.

The head of the advisory group at the Ministry of Health Mateja Logar began by stressing that the green phase, which Slovenia entered a few days ago, is only local – it has been determined based on the point from which epidemiologists consider it realistic to be able to restart tracing the contacts of infected persons. We are still far from the green phase under the ECDC criteria. Logar emphasised that, although we are on the right track, it was still not time to fully lift the measures. This year’s situation is also completely different from that of last May or June, when we had almost no infections. She predicted that we would have to continue carrying out all preventive measures for some time. Logar also touched upon the situation regarding recent sporting events, where video recordings clearly showed that fans did not respect the recommended physical distancing and did not wear masks. As the epidemic has not ended yet, she called for continued compliance with the measures.

Health Inspectorate and the Police: Fewer violations of measures

Deana Potza from the Health Inspectorate said that 2,696 inspections were conducted between 17 and 23 May. Non-compliance was detected in 10% of cases. This time, the Health Inspectorate did not detect any non-compliance in the implementation of vaccination.

Deputy Director-General of the Police Tomaž Pečjak summarised the statistical overview of police activities related to the measures for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic from 20 to 27 May 2021. He stressed that the number of measures imposed by the Police has been falling. In the last week, 39.9% fewer measures were imposed than in the previous week. At the borders, quarantine was imposed on 4,169 persons (which is 42.9% fewer than a week before (7,361)), of these, 3,814 were adults and 355 minors.

From Sunday, some changes regarding border crossing

Pečjak also stressed that, as of Sunday, 30 May 2021, new conditions for crossing the state border will apply. Negative tests and proof of recovery from COVID-19 obtained in Serbia will be accepted. The exceptions for entering Slovenia without a negative test and without being imposed quarantine now include children under 15 years who travel in an organised group accompanied by a teacher or guardian. In particular, Pečjak pointed out the change regarding home quarantine for persons arriving from high-risk countries, which will apply from Sunday onwards. In accordance with the amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act, the Police will give all persons who are obliged to quarantine at home a statement to sign. If a person refuses to sign the statement, the relevant information will be sent to the Ministry of Health, which will then issue a home quarantine order for this person. The National Institute of Public Health keeps a quarantine record. The Health Inspectorate will have access to these data and will carry out the control of quarantine together with the Police. Under the new provisions, a fine may also be imposed for violating quarantine.