Decline in infection curve slows, new cases of UK strain confirmed
LJUBLJANA - A total of 293 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Sunday as the daily increase fell on the week before for the second straight week, but the rate of decline slowed to 1.3%. A further 19 patients with Covid-19 died. The number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 rose by 24 from the day before to 1,173, of whom 192 were in intensive care. The Microbiology Institute reported confirming the highly virulent UK variant of coronavirus in 3 of the 291 samples taken from positive tests performed in Slovenia between 1 and 14 January, evidence that the variant had been in Slovenia before the first official case was confirmed this weekend.
Teachers tested as final decision on return to school pending
LJUBLJANA - Mass testing of thousands of teachers and other personnel in education was carried out in what was the largest such testing operation yet, as kindergartens and the first three grades of primary school to reopen in nine of Slovenia's 12 regions on Tuesday. While no disruption was reported from testing, there was some uncertainty as to whether the reopening plan would be set in motion due to the confirmation of the UK strain of coronavirus. After clearance from the National Institute of Public Health and the Education Ministry, it was decided to proceed with the reopening.
Govt adopts new stimulus bill
LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a new stimulus bill, with the extension of the furlough scheme until 30 April and minimum wage subsidies as the key measures that are to help companies weather the epidemic. The state will provide minimum wage subsidies from January to June; in the second half of the year, employers will be exempt from paying a part of social security contributions. Income support for veterans, high school students over 18 and students studying abroad are also in the bill.
FM Logar presents EU presidency priorities in Belgium
BRUSSELS, Belgium - The priorities of Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of this year and bilateral cooperation were in the focus as Foreign Minister Anže Logar held talks with his Belgian counterpart Sophie Wilmes. Logar stressed that Slovenia would place special emphasis on strengthening the EU's capacity to address health and other crises. The ministers agreed on the importance of respecting European values and the rule of law, which represent the foundation of the EU.
Ministers call for more cooperation between Slovenia, UAE
DUBAI, UAE - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek met Emirati Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber in Abud Dhabi on Monday as he started an official visit to the United Arab Emirates. The pair agreed that bilateral cooperation could improve and expressed support for such efforts, the Economy Ministry said. Slovenia is interested in strengthening ties in high-tech, green economy, pharmaceutical industry, artificial intelligence, logistic, health services and space technologies, Počivalšek said.
Slovenia eyeing EUR 150m for agriculture from recovery fund
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia would like to allocate EUR 150 million of the EU recovery funds for agriculture, Agriculture Minister Jože Podoršek said. Speaking to the press after an EU ministerial, Podgoršek said the main problem for agriculture was a lack of projects that could draw funds fast enough, which is why the focus will be on investment and "soft" projects".
Slovenia urges Brussels to help pork sector
BRUSSELS - Slovenia urged the European Commission to help EU pork producers, saying the situation is worrying, Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek said on the sidelines of an EU ministerial. Slovenian pork producers have suffered at least a 30% drop in revenue due extremely low prices, additional costs incurred because of African swine fever, and coronavirus-fuelled delays in some abattoirs, he said. The country's appeal has been backed by 15 member states.
Hojs urges EU efforts to protect children from online sexual abuse
LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs urged enhancing efforts to protect children from online sexual abuse, as he attended a virtual ministerial of the EU Internet Forum. "It is one of the most abominable and severest forms of crime, and it is especially worrying that globally, the largest amount of footage of child abuse on the internet is exchanged in the EU," he said.
Minority reps protest as bilingual signs vandalised again
KLAGENFURT, Austria - After another spray-painting of the Slovenian names on bilingual city limit signs in Austria's Carinthia, Slovenian minority organisations condemned the incidents once again. The National Council of Carinthian Slovenians (NSKS) said that these were systemic and well-organised acts are attempts to erase the Slovenian language in the public in Carinthia. Community of Carinthian Slovenians (SKS) president Bernard Sadovnik called on the locals to help the police find the perpetrators.
New director general appointed at public broadcaster
LJUBLJANA - The programming council of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija appointed Andrej Grah Whatmough the new director general. Currently the chair of the broadcaster's supervisory board, he will succeed Igor Kadunc at the end of April. Grah Whatmough owns a translation and interpreting company and his Linkedin bio says he works as an independent tax law specialist. He has been on the broadcaster's supervisory board since 2015 and was originally nominated by the Modern Centre Party (SMC).
SDS expands lead in POP TV poll
LJUBLJANA - The ruling Democratic Party (SDS) increased its lead to just shy of eight points in the latest poll commissioned by the commercial broadcaster POP TV. The SDS polled at 16.9%, down 0.3 percentage points from December, as the opposition SocDems lost 1.2 points to 7.9 to 9% in second, followed by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), which gained 1.5 points to 8.8%. The voter approval rating for the government improved slightly. Almost one out of four respondents (23%) were undecided.
Some 2,600 beds at care home empty due to coronavirus
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's 102 care homes admitted slightly more than 3,000 new elderly residents in 2020, whereas some 2,600 beds are currently empty due to the Covid-19 epidemic. None of the care homes are fully occupied because they have to have enough space to organise grey and red areas for suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases, which is why some 1,800 beds are empty. Another 900 remain unoccupied at care homes hit by a major outbreak of the virus and consequently by a lack of staff, the Association of Care Institutions said.
Business sentiment improves slightly in January
LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia improved in January compared to the month before by 2.2. percentage points to -7.1 percentage points, with all sub-indicators bar that measuring confidence in retail improving on the monthly basis, the Statistics Office reported. At the annual level, business sentiment was down by 11.1 percentage points, with only the sub-indicator measuring confidence in manufacturing increasing, by 2.5 points.