Coronavirus & Slovenia, Fri 20/11: Daily Cases, Positivity Fall; Chief Epidemiologist Has Mixed Views on Measures

By , 20 Nov 2020, 15:22 PM Lifestyle
Coronavirus & Slovenia, Fri 20/11: Daily Cases, Positivity Fall; Chief Epidemiologist Has Mixed Views on Measures covid-19.sledilnik.org

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STA, 20 November 2020 - Slovenia's daily coronavirus case count dropped to 1,546 on Thursday from over 2,000 recorded on the previous two days, as the test positivity rate dropped slightly, fresh data from the government show. With another 31 fatalities, the Covid-19 death toll rose to 995.

A total of 5,673 tests for Sars-CoV-2 were performed yesterday, which means 27.25% of the tests came back positive, three percentage points down from the day before.

The number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 rose by 16 to 1,254 but the number of those requiring intensive care dropped by four to 201, as 68 patients were discharged home yesterday.

Offering some more detailed statistics at the daily press briefing in the morning, government spokesman Jelko Kacin expressed concern about an increase in infections in care homes.

The number of infected residents increased by 250 to what are currently 2,510 actively infected residents out of a total of 4,424 infections among the residents in aged care facilities in the second wave.

The number of infected care home staff rose by 81 in the past day to 905 actively infected, out of a total of 1,656 confirmed infections among care home staff in the second wave.

Data from tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org show Slovenia has so far confirmed 62,580 coronavirus infections with the number of active infections dropping by 0.1% in the past day to 19,894. The rolling 14-day average per 100,000 residents dropped to 949.

Robert Carotta, the coordinator for Covid-19 hospital beds at the Health Ministry who also addressed the briefing, assessed that the coronavirus situation was stabilising although it remained tense.

"Luckily, the number of hospitalisations isn't increasing any more. It appears we've have reached a peak," he said, but warned that the health system was stretched to the limit.

He said though that there was a decreasing number of patient transfers between hospitals, which "indicates the hospitals are able to attend to patients in their area".

He also said that the number of infections among health staff was on the decrease; at Jesenice general hospital where he comes from, 37 staff are absent due to Covid-19, which was down from the peak of 72 or more than 20% of the staff at the hospital.

Slovenia's chief epidemiologist with mixed views about current measures

STA, 20 November 2020 - Mario Fafangel, Slovenia's chief epidemiologist, has mixed feelings about the current measures to curtail the spread of coronavirus. In an interview with Mladina, he singled out mandatory masks outdoor and ban on movement between municipalities as having questionable utility, but warned that overall, the measures must be relaxed gradually.

The chair of the Centre for Communicable Diseases at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), Fafangel said it was "very difficult to take a position on which measures may be excessive" since there is no room for error at this point.

"When this period is over and the number of new infections is brought back to a manageable level, I would certainly do certain things very differently than so far," he said.

In spring Fafangel was one of the signatories of a letter by NIJZ epidemiologists who protested against their profession being sidelined.

"I don't have a problem saying that under my leadership, epidemiologists will not become a repressive body and will not issue binding quarantine decisions."

Asked which measures were currently least likely to contribute to curtailing the epidemic, he singled out mandatory masks outdoors saying there were no studies at this point showing that countries which instituted mandatory masks outdoor were more successful in fighting the epidemic.

He acknowledged, however, that such a blanket rule rendered it unnecessary to more precisely regulate mask use, and it made supervision of compliance easier.

One recent example that gained a lot of traction in media and on social networks was the fining of a food delivery worker who had lunch in the centre of Ljubljana and was fined for not wearing a mask.

"I think this is unproductive. Such a repressive approach may be effective in a situation that lasts a month or two at most, but what it mostly does is it triggers resistance to compliance."

In a similar vein, Fafangel thinks the ban on movement between municipalities does not make much sense.

"The epidemiological situation does not warrant restrictions on movement around the country since infections are spread fairly evenly and we don't have less affected areas that we would have to protect."

He noted, however, that the goal of this measure was "to reduce the movement and mingling of people in all possible ways".

Another questionable rule is the ban on some non-food products in grocery stores, a measure he said that only made people angry, even if it is designed to reduce contact between people and hence the probability of transmission.

Overall, he said the measures needed to be relaxed "very cautiously" while those that will remain in force longer must be more targeted.

A resident of Trieste, he said that having experienced the total lockdown in Italy, "in the end you only wait how to make up for everything you have missed and create extra reserves for the new lockdown".

He said the situation was particularly difficult for young adults, who feel very much deprived. "It is necessary to emphasise all the time that this is for the good of the community, for protecting the vulnerable, but at the same time we should not expect perfection from youths and be indignant at their irresponsibility every time they transgress."

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