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Vaccination contributes to improving the situation in care homes

Today's press conference featured Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Janez Cigler Kralj.

Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Janez Cigler Kralj during press conference

Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Janez Cigler Kralj during press conference | Author Ukom

Today's press conference featured Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Janez Cigler Kralj. He talked about the current situation on the labour market and in care homes and mentioned a tender for investments in care homes in the amount of EUR 93 million, which was published today.

 Epidemic continues to calm down, vaccination information points

The current epidemiological data shows that 3,585 PCR tests and 33,625 rapid antigen tests were performed yesterday. 288 new infections were confirmed. Until today, 653,310 people have received a first dose of vaccine, while 381,619 people have been fully vaccinated.

Government spokesperson Maja Bratuša opened the press conference by noting that the Government Communication Office, the National Institute for Public Health and the Ministry of Health were launching today a Covid-19 vaccination campaign that includes information points around the entire country. Everyone who visits them will be informed in detail about vaccines, vaccination, registration for vaccination and at the same time experts will try to answer all questions and possible dilemmas in an understandable way.

Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Janez Cigler Kralj then talked about the current situation on the labour market and in care homes and mentioned a tender for investments in care homes in the amount of EUR 93 million, which was published today.

Furlough scheme extended until the end of June

Minister Cigler Kralj noted that the ministry was very closely monitoring the situation on the labour market and adjusting measures according to the situation. The key objective of measures is still to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic on the economy and individuals and to preserve as many jobs as possible.

We have managed to do this with all coronavirus measures taken so far, said the minister, adding that the effects of intervention measures on the labour market were encouraging. By means of the measures, we have limited the growth of unemployment, which in April dropped below 80,000, which means that the unemployment level was equal to that before the epidemic. A total of EUR 640 million have so far been earmarked for measures in the labour market, covering a total of 272,616 people.

In terms of the unemployment rate, Slovenia is seventh among the EU member states, the minister said, noting that, according to Eurostat data, the average unemployment rate in Slovenian in 2021 was 4.8%, while in the EU-27 (excluding the UK) it was 7.8%.

In order to further reduce the risk, the government has extended the measures of reimbursement of wage compensation for workers on furlough until the end of June. It is a measure that both the government and employers assess as the most successful in preserving jobs. More than EUR 538 million has been earmarked for it so far - to 31,631 employers for 214,225 employees.

The minister also noted that the expiry of the measure could result in a short-term, slight (seasonal) increase in unemployment, while facilitated employment and trends in the number of unemployed to "usual" years were expected in the autumn.

According to the minister, the situation in the labour market is expected to continue to calm down. He added that recovery of economic activity would certainly depend on the epidemiological situation in Slovenia and in major trade partners, the pace of vaccination and responsiveness of policies by means of measures to mitigate the consequences of the epidemic.

For this reason, he welcomed the start of organised vaccination in companies, as people themselves can contribute the most to the situation normalising. If we want the economy to recover as soon as possible, a sufficient rate of vaccination of the entire population needs to be achieved, he added.

Vaccination contributes to normalising the situation in care homes

The situation in care homes around Slovenia certainly points to the efficacy of the vaccine, noted Minister Cigler Kralj, as the situation has normalised greatly since the vaccine has become available. There have been very few infections among residents and staff in the past week - 5 among residents and 5 among staff. What is more, there are almost no death cases due to Covid-19 among residents of care homes: no resident of care homes died in the past month (more precisely from 2 to 27 May), while those who had been vaccinated and nevertheless gotten infected with the coronavirus recovered from the disease almost without any symptoms.

Minister Cigler Kralj thus reiterated his call to all those who have not decided to get vaccinated yet: by getting vaccinated, we protect ourselves and others and express mutual solidarity.

93 million euros available for investments in care homes (React-EU)

When it comes to care homes, the pandemic has revealed all the weaknesses and the long-term neglect in terms of investments in the system and care for the elderly. The minister thus called all the interested entities to apply for the tender by the European Regional Development Fund or the React-EU initiative, which is financed as part of the response of the Union to the Covid-19 pandemic in the amount of EUR 93 million. These are EU grants intended for co-financing of projects that will contribute to improving the housing standard of residents, providing for separation of clean and unclean paths to prevent spreading of infections, establishing so-called grey and red zones, and providing infrastructure for providing services in the community. To be supported are thus projects whose objective is to provide a comfortable and safe residential environment to users of social services in the event of outbreaks of epidemic of coronavirus or other infectious diseases. The minister expressly noted that the tender was not intended for strengthening institutionalisation, but rather supporting the process of de-institutionalisation, resolving critical situations, covering gaps and providing appropriate standards in the existing social protection institutions. The first deadline for the submission of applications is 13 July 2021, and the second deadline is 27 August 2021.

On the occasion, Minister Cigler Kralj expressed the hope that care homes will take the opportunity and respond to the tender, as he believes that this is the way to significantly improve the quality of living of the most sensitive and most vulnerable residents of Slovenia when it comes to the epidemic.