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Lower infection rate detected in Slovenia in recent days

The press conference on the current situation regarding COVID-19 was attended by Robert Carotta, Coordinator for COVID-19 Hospital Beds at the Ministry of Health, Tjaša Žohar Čretnik, Director of the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food, Patricija Furlan Fon, Acting Chief Inspector of the Infrastructure Inspectorate, and Maja Bratuša.

Patricija Furlan Fon, Acting Chief Inspector of the Infrastructure Inspectorate.

Patricija Furlan Fon, Acting Chief Inspector of the Infrastructure Inspectorate. | Author Urad Vlade RS za komuniciranje

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Maja Bratuša initially introduced the latest epidemiological data, according to which 6,974 PCR tests and 59,478 rapid antigen tests were performed yesterday. Some 2,257 new infections were confirmed, which is significantly fewer than a week before when more than 3,100 infections were confirmed. The proportion of positive tests was 32.4 per cent yesterday. Likewise, the number of active infections, which today totals 35,072, continues to decline.

The number of people getting booster shots is growing. The third dose of the vaccine was administered to 5,914 people yesterday, which amounts to a total of 296,278. Some 64.5 per cent of people over the age of 18 and 75 per cent of people over the age of 50 are fully vaccinated in Slovenia.

The conditions in hospitals have also improved. A total of 1,107 COVID-19 beds are occupied, of which 277 beds are in intensive care units. Some 90 patients were discharged from hospitals and 15 persons lost their battle with the disease.

Robert Carotta, Coordinator for COVID-19 Hospital Beds, spoke about the conditions in hospitals and explained that the number of hospitalised patients has not increased in recent days. He expressed hope that the worst projections according to which 320 intensive care beds would be needed would not come true. "A drop in the infection rate at the state level gives us hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Carotta.

He stated that we can only thank the self-sacrifice of health-care workers that the Slovenian health system has not collapsed. Carotta highlighted that the fourth wave was extremely challenging, not only because of the exceptional pressure on the health-care system, but also due to the significantly younger population affected by the Delta variant of COVID-19. He further noted that as many as 80 per cent of patients in intensive care units were aged between 50 and 75, and more than 80 per cent were unvaccinated. Of those who were vaccinated, each person had at least one chronic disease, which significantly reduced their immune response. Carotta emphasised that the COVID-19 virus spreads freely among the unvaccinated population and mutates, while the vaccination reduces the probability of new mutations occurring. The occurrence of new COVID-19 mutations can once again bring us back to the very beginning of our fight against the disease, said Carotta.

In the end, he stressed that, despite the decline in the infection rate, we are still standing on the edge of the abyss and the slightest gust can push us into its depths.

Later in the press conference, Tjaša Žohar Čretnik, Director of the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food, said that the situation in Slovenia regarding COVID-19 variants has been stable in the last 20 weeks, which means that the Delta variant has been 100 per cent dominant and has over 80 sub-variants in Slovenia. Žohar Čretnik explained that the Omicron variant had not been detected yet in Slovenia and highlighted the importance of preventing the transmission of the variant into the country.

Patricija Furlan Fon, Acting Chief Inspector of the Infrastructure Inspectorate, communicated that a coordination session was convened with the public passenger transport providers immediately after the situation worsened due to COVID-19 in early November at the initiative of the Infrastructure Inspectorate and the Ministry of Infrastructure. The providers were clearly informed that they were obliged to consistently verify passengers’ compliance with the RVT condition and other prescribed measures. Bus drivers and conductors in public rail passenger transport are obliged to ask passengers to produce a valid document confirming their compliance with the RVT condition and a personal identification document and to wear a protective surgical mask or a FFP2 mask.

In November, the competent inspectors carried out 744 inspections and examined 507 buses, 237 trains and verified 12,113 passengers.

During the inspections, it was mainly found that the RVT condition and preventive protective measures were being observed; however, certain discrepancies were also found. Some 216 passengers, which amounts to approximately two per cent of all inspections, were ordered to leave public means of transport due to their non-compliance with the RVT condition. Three cases of non-compliance with the RVT condition were also found among the drivers working for public passenger transport providers. In these cases, the drivers were immediately prohibited from working and the implementation of transport was temporarily stopped until a substitute driver was provided. Minor offence proceedings were instigated against the driver and the public passenger transport provider.

Furlan Fon further emphasised that the inspectors detected that the number of violations had been declining from week to week, namely the number of violations detected from the start of inspection supervisions dropped by half. Thus, the violations of non-compliance with the RVT condition were established only in one per cent of supervisions in the last week. The conduct of individual secondary school students, who are only required to produce a secondary school card, is also positive, as they have also been providing documents proving their compliance with the RVT condition in increasing numbers.

In conclusion, Furlan Fon called on all participants in public passenger transport to behave responsibly in order for the public passenger transport to be carried out as smoothly and safely as possible, to observe the prescribed protective measures and the RVT condition, and to enter public means of transport with their RVT certificates and identification at hand.