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28 Mar 2020, 15:44 PM

STA, 28 March 2020 - The Environment Agency (ARSO) has issued a warning for today about high concentrations of harmful PM10 particles for Slovenia after Saharan dust reached Europe on Friday. It has advised people to stay indoors.

An average daily concentration is expected to exceed 100 microgrammes per cubic metre, while the allowed daily concentration is 50 microgrammes.

The situation should gradually improve on Sunday, yet high concentrations are still expected in central and southern Slovenia, ARSO says on its website.

Very high concentrations, even around 400 microgrammes per cubic metre, were measured in Slovenia already on Friday.

"We're not used to such high concentrations," Janja Turšič from ARSO told the STA, adding she could not remember Slovenia ever having recorded such high levels.

You can see more details of this here

28 Mar 2020, 13:56 PM

All our stories on coronavirus are here, while those covering covid-19 and Croatia are here. We'll have an update at the end of the day, and if you want newsflashes then we'll post those on Facebook

We can’t have pictures of COVID-19 every day. So instead we’ll try and show the works of Slovenian artists. Today it’s Gordana Grlič, who owns the best photo store on Ljubljana's Trubarjeva cesta - Photo Pauli

STA, 28 March 2020 - Fifty-two new Covid-19 cases were confirmed but no new deaths recorded in Slovenia on Friday, putting the national total of infected persons at 684 and death toll at nine. The daily rise in new cases is below Thursday's record 70. A total of 1,387 people were tested for the virus on Friday, the Government Communication Office said on Saturday.

By Friday, 90 infected persons were admitted to hospital, of whom 25 are in intensive care and the majority need a ventilator, the government's spokesperson for the coronavirus crisis Jelko Kacin told the press today.

Related: How Many Hospital Beds Are There In Slovenia?

Answering a question from the press, he also said that no cabinet member was infected, while they all stick to very strict safety measures.

Kacin moreover announced that due to the complexity of the matter, the government is unlikely to adopt the EUR 2 billion economic stimulus package today but tomorrow.

The Government Communication Office said later in the day that the government will meet today at 4pm to continue debating the bill. It is however not clear whether it will complete the debate today.

Infected are however three employees of the national Agency Commodity Reserves, including its director, but they all feel fine and are working from home.

A special body bringing together hospital, community health centre and nursing home directors will be set up in the coming days to see what else could be done to prevent the virus from spreading to nursing homes, announced Kacin.

Related: How Many Cases of Covid-19 Are in My Municipality?

Several Covid-19 fatalities were residents of nursing homes, with the Šmarje pri Jelšah nursing home one of the hotspots of the epidemic in the country.

While visits to nursing homes are not allowed, State Secretary at the Labour, Family and Social Affairs Ministry Mateja Ribič said the elderly there are well taken care of despite the situation.

She said a number of measures have been taken to protect the staff and residents and urged everyone to stick to them to the benefit of all.

An employee of a nursing home in Postojna tested positive for the virus last evening so extensive testing of all staff and a total of some 40 residents is under way in Postojna today, according to the local Civil Protection unit.

As for personal protective equipment at nursing homes, Ribič said all those who need it, get it. She expects the shortage to ease as new shipments are coming to the country daily.

The country's Civil Protection head Srečko Šestan meanwhile told the STA that Slovenia had enough protective equipment for at least another week.

He said the biggest shortage is for the protection class FFP2 and FFP3 respirator masks, which provide the best protection and are intended primarily for medical staff.

"We'll have to use them sparingly, giving them to nobody else but medical staff," Šestan said.

He said most of the protective equipment coming in goes to healthcare organisations, including hospitals, community health centres, nursing homes, pharmacies and dentists.

The Health Ministry confirmed that two younger persons in quarantine at the Paka Hotel in the town of Velenje tested positive for the virus, but feel fine.

As many as 42 Slovenians who returned from Spain on a plane on Friday were quarantined there for two weeks.

More Slovenians are planned to return home amid the pandemic, with a plane bringing 45 Slovenians from Madrid planned to land at Ljubljana airport around midnight.

The same plane, which will also carry Croatian, Austrian and Hungarian citizens, will then fly on to Croatia's Zagreb to pick 80 Spaniards back home.

Andrej Šter of the Foreign Ministry explained for TV Slovenija that Slovenia will only have to organise the transit of Austrians to their home country.

Another ten Slovenians are expected to arrive in Slovenia from Skopje and Prishtina today.

28 Mar 2020, 09:59 AM

John Bills is the author of four books on Europe's better half, electronic versions of which are currently available at special lockdown prices, including a great deal on all four - just under £10 (or just over €11) for the lot with the promo code ENDOFDAYS at poshlostbooks. The text below comes from An Illustrated History of Slavic Misery - as entertaining as it is educational, and as good as it is long, and at well over 500 pages it's very long indeed.

Who is the greatest swimmer of all time? Ask any chap on the street and they'll probably run away due to the strange question, but if they do manage to answer they will come out with the usual suspects. Mark Spitz, Ian Thorpe, Michael Phelps, maybe some other Olympians. The archetypical swimmer, the athletic body, the elegant technique, the great smile and in Spitz's example, the textbook moustache. What if I told you that none of the above can rightly claim to be the greatest swimmer of the human race? What if I told you that at the pinnacle of swimming you will find an overweight man, who may or may not be a raging alcoholic, born in the village of Mokronog in southeastern Slovenia? Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Martin Strel.

Who? Well, pretty much all you need to know is written above. Martin Strel was born in Mokronog on October 1, 1954. He’s overweight. He drinks a lot of alcohol. Oh, and he swims big rivers, from start to finish. And by big rivers, I mean BIG rivers. We're talking Danube big. Mississippi big. Yangtze big. AMAZON big. Martin Strel has created a legend of himself by swimming from the start of a river to the end of a river, usually in an astonishingly quick time, all in the name of greater awareness for the plight of the world’s rivers.

Mokronog itself has had little or no impact on the history of the world. It was once the centre of the leather industry, but the big factory was destroyed by the Nazis in 1943. 11 years later, Martin Strel entered the world. His early years were fraught with difficulty, as his father frequently veered into the abusive territory. As the legend goes, and with Strel the legend is as valid as the truth, his first swim was an attempt to escape the violence of his father. The tales continue, as he supposedly learned to swim by damming the Mirna river to create a pool. One day, when Strel was 10, a troop of soldiers raced in his pool, with a crate of beer for the winner. Despite being half their size and less than half their age, Strel won the race, and subsequently the beer. He has been swimming and drinking ever since.

He went to Ljubljana as a teenager, where he worked an assortment of odd jobs such as paperboy, mechanic and bricklayer. He was discovered, Hollywood style, at the age of 24, by the Yugoslav long-distance swimming coach. Within three months he had completed his first 20-mile race. It was his swimming ability that allowed him to get away with what must surely be a record 42 desertions of the Yugoslav army in his one-year service. That or his ability to complete a Rubik's cube in under a minute. He needed a job post-army though, so he became an infrequent guitar teacher (he's the finest flamenco guitarist in Slovenia) but mostly a professional gambler. Gambling, it could be argued, is the only thing he loves as much as swimming. And alcohol.

His first big swim came in 1992 when he swam the 63 mile Krka river in 28 hours. Non-stop. It was a cold and miserable experience, understandably, but it gave Strel something approaching a new goal, a new mission in life. He was going to do all he could to promote awareness of the state of the rivers of the world, of their pollution, of their decline. As he said himself, without water we are truly nothing. He was going to do this by swimming the longest, most imposing rivers in the world, and he practiced by becoming the first man to swim from Africa to Europe, in 1997. Seven had perished attempting this feat before him. He swam the Danube, the second-longest river in central Europe at 1,867m, in just 58 days. During this swim, he also managed to set a world record for the longest continual swim, when he swam 313 miles in 84 hours, non-stop.

Just let that sink in for a second. 313 miles. Three Hundred, and Thirteen miles. For 84, Eighty-Four hours non-stop. Doing anything for 84 hours is difficult. Heck, doing any single act for four hours is hard enough. Being awake for 24 hours is often impossible. But swimming, for 84 hours? Awe my friends, awe and respect.

He followed this feat by swimming the length of the Mississippi, two thousand three hundred and fifty miles, in 68 days. Then, he swam the Yangtze, China's behemoth (2,487m), in an astonishing 51 days, all the while dodging waste and corpses in one of the most polluted rivers in the world. This was all in preparation for his ultimate challenge, possibly the ultimate challenge in the world of big river swimming. It might not be the longest river in the world, but it is the most difficult regarding swimming. I'm talking about the Amazon.

To describe the Amazon swim as a challenge is a grand understatement. It is doing a disservice to what Strel achieved with this swim. It was such a huge, ambitious project, that a documentary was to be made about it, entitled 'Big River Man'. Strel swam 3,274 miles in 66 days, sleeping around four to five hours a night at most. He could rarely see below the surface of the dirty water and constantly had to deal with the threats of pirates and with tribes that were hostile to his presence and considered Strel to be a demon. This without mentioning the animals that live in the Amazon, the dangerous bastards that Strel would contend with on a day-to-day basis.

The list is pretty much the most terrifying list of all. The Amazon is home to the Bull Shark, the shark that is believed to have killed more humans than any other of its kind. Then there are the piranhas, often considered the most vicious of all fish, stingrays, electric eels, crocodiles, catfish that swallow dogs whole and snakes, oh the snakes. There are so many different types of snake in the Amazon. Oh yeah, and the Candiru, which gets into you through any orifice, locks itself in with a spike and then feeds on your blood. It's most famous route is through your urine, by the way, that is to say through your urethra and up your schlong. This isn’t exactly true, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be heading to the Amazon riverside for a tinkle any time soon. The natives don't swim here, so how would an obese alcohol-fuelled Slovene cope?

Well, he went mad, quite obviously, but he managed to complete the course without any interaction with the animals other than a brief spat with some piranhas. He claims that this is all because of the respect he showed the nature, that and the fact he was escorted a large portion of the way by a group of pink dolphins. That sounds like something out of a crazy dream obviously, and it might be, but the fact is that Martin Strel swam the length of the Amazon, a distance that is longer than the width of the Atlantic Ocean. Let that sink in as well, because holy moly that is a loooooooong river. He did this whilst under immense pressure due to the increased profile and huge production that came along with it. Many livelihoods depending on his being able to continue swimming. His skin blistered to the point where he had to swim in a home-made cloth mask which looks like that worn by an insane asylum dweller in the nineteenth century. His doctor even made him sign a waiver stating that he was swimming against her advice. But still, he did it. Somehow, he did it.

Whatever your opinion of him, it is difficult to not view the achievements of Martin Strel with awe and respect. He drinks two bottles of wine a day and is a fervent believer in the benefits of being overweight. If I was swimming 52 miles a day, I would require some sort of fatty reserves, and Strel has them in abundance. He is a very bullish, confident man, prone to embellishment. Why wouldn't he be? Every time I attempt to criticise the man, I keep coming back to thoughts of his swims. The length of the freakin’ Amazon. Let the guy be rude, he swam for 84 hours non-stop. He's earned the right to be insane.

I wouldn't just say Martin Strel is the greatest swimmer in history. I'd go so far as to say he is the greatest athlete in the history of the world. A modern-day Atlas.

John Bills is the author of four books on Europe's better half, electronic versions of which are currently available at special lockdown prices, including a great deal on all four - just under £10 (or just over €11) for the lot with the promo code ENDOFDAYS at poshlostbooks. The text above comes from An Illustrated History of Slavic Misery - as entertaining as it is educational, and as good as it is long, and at well over 500 pages it's very long indeed. You can learn more about Martin Strel at the man's website, and even go open water swimming with the tour company he and his family run, when this whole covid-19 thing is over.

28 Mar 2020, 09:04 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 27 March 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Beware surveillance capitalism

STA, 27 March 2020 - In the times that are coming, democracy will be more important than we could ever imagine and the countries that do not have people fully committed to human rights and democracy in power now will have it hard, the editor-in-chief of the left-wing weekly Mladina, Grega Repovž, argues in Friday's editorial.

"In the coming weeks (!) so much will happen that we will indeed wake up to a different world, a different world order", Repovž says, pointing to restrictive measures and electronic surveillance devices that Asian countries are using to prevent the spread of coronavirus among their citizens.

"The use of such applications is undoubtedly controversial, because they severely encroach on personal privacy. But as long as health arguments are used we are somehow trying to understand them," Repovž says.

However, the world today trembles before another fear: the fear of a great economic collapse. "This fear is getting worse, because for healthy people quarantined today it is much more tangible and known than some unknown diseases. One of the reasons for this is that only a decade has passed since the last major crisis."

It was only a matter of time before those who are primarily concerned about the state of the economy realised that these applications and surveillance of infected persons can actually enable them to allow citizens to return to their jobs early in the name of the economy and assume their role of consumers again.

The technology enabling surveillance of infected persons is sending the message that capitalism can function even before the pandemic is completely contained.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn revealed for Die Zeit this Wednesday that the German government was already working on a plan to revive public life before the end of the epidemic, so that life could return to normal for most people right after Easter, except for the older and the most vulnerable, who would be asked to remain in quarantine.

He argued that in a liberal society it is not possible to restrict contacts between people in the long-term, which Repovž says is a seemingly acceptable view for any liberal. But his next sentence was that digital tracking of people's contacts, meaning tracing people's mobiles, will be inevitable in this scenario.

"And so it has happened. The wall has been penetrated. The one thing we feared has happened: the argument of liberal values has been used to violate those exact values only to let capitalism start its engines again."

The question now is whether we will give up our freedom and privacy to enable life to start again despite the virus that is among us. Will we even have a chance to be against? "Is this the world we want to live in? And primarily: Can you trust your authorities - for example in Slovenia - that they will not abuse the situation?"

But what if this experiment causes the disease to spread even more, and bring even more deaths, Repovž wonders under the headline Surveillance Capitalism Is Coming.

Demokracija: Mainstream media should not attack government

STA, 26 March 2020 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija endorses government restrictions aimed at slowing down the spread of coronavirus in its latest edition, berating mainstream media for accusing the government of censorship.

In the piece headlined What the World Will Be Like After the End of the Outbreak, Jože Biščak, the editor-in-chief, writes that everyone should abide by the restrictions and behave as if they were contagious, including journalists.

"In particular the ladies who are reporting on the ground in front of cameras without protective masks (great example for the viewers indeed), and then when the government cancels live press conferences, go crying that they cannot do their job, complaining about censorship, talking about dictatorship, curbs on the freedom of speech.

"Dear readers, we are at war, at war against a virus we do not know well enough and do not know what consequences it will have on people's health."

Biščak says that no one is denying anyone's right to express their opinion, or hindering journalist work and that no one will be any less informed if the government responds to questions remotely.

He accuses the media mainstream of using the state of emergency to attack the centre-right government, arguing that people are not interested in who has been replaced at the helm of the army or police force at the moment, but rather if and how they will survive the epidemic.

"Things that are completely irrelevant to health at the moment are only of interest to socio-political workers, a phalanx of NGOs and ideological parasites as they are helplessly watching how they are losing their influence and how ordinary people are welcoming government measures."

Biščak says that restrictions will pass and that the current government has no desire to extend the state of emergency beyond what necessary, as mainstream media commentators claim.

"However, this is a time for a rethink what world we want to live in after the end of the outbreak. A globalised one where international elites take decisions that affect us and decide the quality of our lives, or a world where the power would be decentralised, people freer and regions more independent?"

All our posts in this series are here

28 Mar 2020, 04:01 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA:

Janša warns lack of joint action potentially fateful for EU

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša called for joint EU action to fight the coronavirus crisis. "The scale of the crisis is truly large and may have grave and fateful effects on the cohesion of the EU and the economic and monetary union," he told EU leaders at Thursday's EU summit. He said adequate and timely action was needed to mitigate the social and economic consequences of the crisis. "Considering the extraordinary circumstances, Slovenia has endorsed the initiative for a common debt instrument," Janša was quoted in a Government Communication Office press release.

Covid-19 death toll rises to nine as two more deaths reported

LJUBLJANA - The coronavirus death toll in Slovenia rose to nine as two persons died, the second day in a row that more than one fatality has been confirmed. By Thursday midnight the total number of confirmed infections rose to 632, up by a record 70 cases in a day, the latest government data show. More than 18,000 tests were carried out by midnight on Thursday, over a thousand yesterday alone, while reports from hospitals suggest 101 Covid-19 patients were in hospital today. The National Institute of Public Health expects the growth in cases to slow down because of the lockdown measures imposed in Slovenia nearly two weeks ago.

Hojs optimistic about chances of giving army police powers

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs is optimistic a two-thirds majority could be mustered to trigger article 37.a of the defence act to temporarily give the Slovenian Armed Forces police powers. After consulting deputy groups, he said he would shortly send them the final proposal updated with some of their proposals so that the government could adopt it and parliament pass next week. With the exception of the National Party (SNS), the opposition is reserved towards the proposal, but would make its mind up once it has seen the final proposal. However, today Hojs praised all opposition parties for being constructive. Among their proposals he finds useful he highlighted strictly limiting the territory along the border with Croatia on which soldiers would be allowed to exert police powers to help the police cope with illegal migration.

Government to continue work on stimulus package on Saturday

LJUBLJANA - The government convened a session to finalise a economic stimulus package estimated at EUR 2 billion, but later announced that it would take a vote on it on Saturday after conducting further talks due to its complexity. The government was only acquainted with the package today, the STA has learned. The proposed measures include loan guarantees for companies, purchase of claims to companies, co-financing of social contributions and temporary layoffs, temporary basic income for the self-employed and a one-off allowance for pensioners. PM Janez Janša has said the ideal scenario would be to pass it by 1 April and parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič has announced that en emergency session would be held in the middle of next week.

Quarantine protocol to apply to all Slovenian returning from hotspots

LJUBLJANA - The government announced all Slovenians returning to Slovenia from coronavirus hotspots will be put into state-administrated quarantine. The announcement was made after 41 Slovenian citizens who were flown in from Madrid late on Thursday were not sent into self-isolation but quarantined in a hotel in Velenje for two weeks. There is some opposition in Velenje, with the local community expressing indignation that it had learnt about the Paka Hotel quarantine from the media. Jelko Kacin, the government's spokesman for the coronavirus crisis, confirmed today the measure would apply to all Slovenians returning from coronavirus hotspots. Another group from Spain is to arrive on Saturday.

Slovenia urges cohesion policy flexibility due to crisis

BRUSSELS, Belgium - EU ministers in charge of development and European cohesion policy appealed to the European Commission to come up with a second set of measures enabling more flexibility in the phasing of EU funds to tackle the coronavirus epidemic ramifications, with Slovenia urging maximum possible wiggle room for taking action. Slovenia's Zvonko Černač urged the greatest possible degree of flexibility in allowing changes and implementing measures to mitigate the coronavirus fallout, adding that every day counted.

Electricity consumption in Slovenia down

LJUBLJANA - In the wake of production shutdowns and public life grinding to a halt, electricity consumption in Slovenia has seen a downward trend in the past two weeks, show the latest data from SODO, the state-owned electricity distribution system operator. Between 12 and 26 March, electricity consumption decreased by 7.85% compared to the same period in 2018 and by 3.89% on 2019. Trends recorded by power supplier Elektro Maribor reflect the shift to nationwide lockdown mode: industrial consumption decreased by 6% in March, while household consumption increased by 6%.

Cavitation researcher Dular wins prestigious Bessel Research Award

BERLIN, Germany - Matevž Dular, a lecturer and researcher at the Ljubljana Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded the prestigious Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award. This is the second Bessel prize for a Slovenian researcher in as many years, last-year's winner being particle physicist Jure Zupan. Financed by the German government and conferred by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation on around 20 scientists each year, the honour includes a EUR 45,000 grant and a six-month research project in Germany.

If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here

27 Mar 2020, 20:39 PM

All our stories on coronavirus are here, while those covering covid-19 and Croatia are here. We'll have an update at the end of the day, and if you want newsflashes then we'll post those on Facebook

We can’t have pictures of COVID-19 every day. So instead we’ll try and show the works of Slovenian artists. Today it’s Gordana Grlič.

Contents

Covid-19 death toll rises to nine as two more deaths reported Friday

Infectologist says Covid-19 numbers do not show whole picture

Quarantine protocol to apply to all Slovenians returning from hotspots

Covid-19 death toll rises to nine as two more deaths reported Friday

STA, 27 March 2020 - The coronavirus death toll in Slovenia rose to nine on Friday as two persons died, the second day in a row that more than one fatality has been confirmed. By Thursday midnight the total number of confirmed infections rose to 632, up by a record seventy cases in a day, the latest government data show.

Two patients who died on Friday had been hospitalised at the Golnik hospital near Kranj and the Celje General Hospital, the Health Ministry said.

Similar to other deaths, the persons who died yesterday and today were elderly with underlying conditions, the government Communication Office told the STA.

Among the nine dead are four residents of the Metlika retirement home, while another three were allegedly residents of the retirement home in Šmarje pri Jelšah. Both towns have a high rate of confirmed cases.

The National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) meanwhile said that the new infections stemmed from clusters that had formed around the first detected cases, which had been imported.

Commenting on the increase in positive cases, NIJZ said that these were expected, as most were related infections in the retirement homes in Metlika and Šmarje pri Jelšah. It expects the growth in cases to slow down because of the lockdown measures imposed in Slovenia nearly two weeks ago.

The first case of Covid-19 has also been confirmed in the ranks of the Slovenian Armed Forces. All who were in contact with the person have been traced down and tested negative. In a press release the military also said it had set up a mobile lab to help test the Slovenians returning from abroad upon arrival.

In the evening, public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported that the first case has also been discovered in the police ranks. The police officer was reportedly working at a cooperation centre for security bodies in Dolga Vas, near Lendava (NE), where police officers from Austria, Croatia and Hungary work together.

Apart from the Slovenian police officer, a Croatian and an Austrian officer have also been infected, TV Slovenija reported.

A total of 90 patients were hospitalised as of Thursday, of which 22 were in intensive care. More than 18,000 tests were carried out by midnight on Thursday, over a thousand yesterday alone.

Meanwhile, reports from hospitals suggest 101 patients were in hospital today. Covid-19 patients are currently being treated in four hospitals, apart from Golnik and Celje, also at UKC Maribor and the UKC Ljubljana's Clinic for Infectious Diseases.

The latter is treating 50 patients, the highest number among all hospitals. UKC Ljubljana is also monitoring 30 patients with mild symptoms remotely.

UKC Maribor has meanwhile announced stricter measures as of Monday, shutting down all activities bar emergency assistance because the number of patients in need of intensive therapy is growing very fast.

The hospital is also concerned because it had admitted a patient who tested negative for Covid-19 and was hospitalised for a different illness but was positive several days later, after already having been in contact with other patients who tested negative.

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Infectologist says Covid-19 numbers do not show whole picture

STA, 27 March 2020 - Infectologist Janez Tomažič believes that the number of cases of Covid-19 in Slovenia does not show the whole picture. Commenting on the highest increase in confirmed cases so far, he said that "if the increase is among the vulnerable groups, then I'm worried, but if the increase is among... the middle aged, then the problem is not so bad".

Speaking for the STA, the expert in infectious diseases who works at the UKC Ljubljana hospital, said it was key that Slovenia does not see an increase in positive cases among people over 60 with underlying conditions and persons with immune deficiencies.

The most recent data from the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) shows that the share of the disease is highest among people over 85 (88 per 100,000) followed by the 25-34 age group (42 per 100,000).

Covid-19 is especially problematic for retirement homes, where there are many elderly people in close proximity and the infection can spread rapidly. "All preventative measures must be followed, such as complete ban on visits and sick employees staying at home."

"We know the course of the illness quite good. Usually it develops slowly with mild symptoms in the early days, even in vulnerable groups. It starts to worsen around day seven and around day ten it becomes clear whether the patient will have a severe course of the illness."

The key thing is to avoid a rapid increase in hospitalisations. "We're worried it might come to random hospitalisations of patients who would not benefit from this or see the quality of life improved."

Tomažič illustrated that in Italy, decisions were sometimes made in panic, sending to hospital people for whom this was far from beneficial, as the hospitalisation only decreased the quality of their remaining life.

"The transportation alone, intubation, needles... and all for nothing. That is why these decisions are so incredibly important. But because they are very sensitive, the discussions with families need to be done expertly, humanely and with dignity."

Now is the time to discuss this, because the situation is relatively calm and this could be talked through without haste, in peace, humanely and with dignity. These patients need to receive expert and ethical care, he underlined.

"It is essential that these decisions and talks with the patient's family involve not only the GP... but also experts from secondary and tertiary institutions, a psychologist and, when at all possible, a palliative care specialist." Thus a task force has been established to assist retirement homes.

He believes good response and organisation within retirement homes is key, saying that the two homes that have seen the most positive cases, in Šmarje pri Jelšah and Metlika, have learnt a lot and became very well organised.

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Quarantine protocol to apply to all Slovenians returning from hotspots

STA, 27 March 2020 - The government announced on Friday that all Slovenians returning to Slovenia from coronavirus hotspots will be put into state-administrated quarantine. The measure has so far affected 445 persons, Jelko Kacin, the government's spokesman for the coronavirus crisis, told the press.

The announced was made after 41 Slovenian nationals who were flown in from Madrid late on Thursday were not sent into self-isolation but quarantined in a hotel in Velenje for a 14-day period.

It was said that the same quarantine protocol would be used for a second plane from Spain, to be organised on Saturday, but Kacin confirmed today it would apply to all Slovenians returning from coronavirus hotspots.

However, he singled out Spain again, saying that quite a few Slovenians remained there and that these flights would continue almost on a daily basis.

In an effort to assuage locals in Velenje, where the Paka Hotel was made available free of charge by Hisense, the Chinese-based owner of household appliances maker Gorenje, Kacin said this would not be the only town with a quarantine unit.

"There are many more Slovenians abroad and this is a good example of solidarity that is crucial in these difficult times. I hope this will serve as an inspiration to other companies with vacant accommodation facilities," he said. Railways operator Slovenske Železnice has announced it has made available the holiday accommodation facilities it owns for quarantine purposes.

There has been some resistance in Velenje, with Deputy Mayor Peter Dermol expressing indignation that the local community learnt about the Paka Hotel quarantine from the media and the fact that the local civil protection and health authorities had not been informed about the government's decision.

In the afternoon, the situation calmed down, with Andrej Šter, the head of the Foreign Ministry's consular service, apologising publicly for failure to inform the community and Dermol accepting his apology.

What is more, the care for those in quarantine has been taken over by the Velenje municipality. The Civil Protection has also said that 42 people are being quarantined at the Paka Hotel, among them two minors.

All of the people in quarantine will be tested again this evening, then again in six days and once more in a fortnight. Among them is also basketball player Zoran Dragić, who told the press press he believes two weeks' quarantine was too long and that nobody from the plane was infected.

One of the quarantined persons expressed worry to the STA over not having protective gear and over the danger of legionnaires disease because the hotel had been out of order. "Nobody warned us that tap water wasn't safe, we only received bottled water in the course of the day."

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27 Mar 2020, 20:01 PM

What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 20 March
        LJUBLJANA - Sweeping lockdown measures came into effect in Slovenia with the movement and gathering of people in public places banned until further notice with exemptions that allow society to function. This was as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 341.
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament passed the first package of laws aimed at mitigating the impact of the coronavirus crisis, including subsidised pay for temporarily laid-off workers, credit payment and tax duty deferrals for companies, as well as trade restrictions for agriculture and food products. One act gives the government complete discretion in the use of budget funds approved for purposes not deemed part of legally binding tasks.
        LJUBLJANA - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec assured the public that there was enough basic foodstuffs in Slovenia for a few months with backup plans in place in case of disruption to existing food supply chains. She indicated the possibility of occasional problems in supply of imported fresh fruit and vegetables.
        LJUBLJANA - Facing a strike threat in protest against an emergency decree forcing grocery stores to be open from 8am to 8pm, the government pushed the closing time to 6pm, as demanded by the trade union of shop assistants. The restrictions do not apply to smaller retailers.
        LJUBLJANA - To ease the impact of the coronavirus fallout, the government issued a decree suspending certain contributions on electricity bills that will result in about 20% lower cost of power for households and small businesses until 31 May.
        LJUBLJANA - The governing council of the National Public Health Institute appointed Ivan Eržen acting director after the government relieved Nina Pirnat of her duties and moved her to the Health Ministry's Healthcare Directorate, unofficially due to her handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
        LJUBLJANA - Only days after being appointed, Miro Petek was dismissed as acting director of the Government Communication Office and replaced by Uroš Urbanija, a former STA home desk editor, who also worked as editor at the public broadcaster's news web portal MMC RTV Slovenija and commercial broadcaster Planet TV.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Centre of Excellence for Biosensors, Instrumentation and Process Control joined efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine in cooperation with Slovenian and international companies, research institutes and universities. Its head Matjaž Peterko said development could take between less than a year and a few years.

SATURDAY, 21 March
        LJUBLJANA/ŠMARJE PRI JELŠAH - The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country rose by 42 to 383 with a total of 12,162 tests performed. Prime Minister Janez Janša visited the town of Šmarje pri Jelšah, the site of the second largest outbreak in the country, where the nursing home became a major hotspot.
        LJUBLJANA - Jelko Kacin, the spokesman for the government coronavirus crisis response unit, threatened that a ban would be imposed restricting people's movement to their municipality, a plan later shelved because of a low number of violations of existing lockdown measures.
        LJUBLJANA - Public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, the Journalists' Association (DNS) and the Journalists' Trade Union condemned a Twitter post by Prime Minister Janez Janša in which he accused TV Slovenija of lying after running an interview with a trade unionist who expressed indignation about the pay rise for ministers and state secretaries. The government later announced a 30% cut in public office holders' pay during the epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - After the first week of school closure due to the Covid-19 epidemic, Education Minister Simona Kustec found that remote schooling was going very well while problems of some 700 students without access to computer or internet were being addressed.

SUNDAY, 22 March
        LJUBLJANA/METLIKA - Slovenia recorded a second coronavirus fatality as the number of confirmed cases rose by 31 in the past day to 414. Health Minister Tomaž Gantar said that both patients who had died were in their 90s and had underlying health issues. The latest fatality was an elderly woman from the Metlika nursing home, like the man who died just over a week earlier. Visiting the facility, PM Janez Janša pledged an all out effort to supply enough protective equipment.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia sent emergency relief aid to Croatia in response to the neighbouring country's appeal for help via the European civil protection mechanism after a magnitude 5.3 earthquake hit the capital of Zagreb in the morning. Slovenia dispatched ten tents equipped to accommodate up to 80 people with 60 beds and 60 sleeping bags and 20 heating devices, valued at EUR 107,000.
        KLAGENFURT/GRAZ, Austria, KRŠKO - The Krško Nuclear Power Station (NEK) reported that a preventive examination of systems and equipment had not detected any damage or impact on operations caused by a severe earthquake in Zagreb that was felt in Slovenia as well. The Nuclear Safety Administration said the power station, situated near the border with Croatia and hence close to the earthquake's epicentre, operated normally. Meanwhile, several Austrian politicians reiterated their calls for the closure of Slovenia's sole nuclear power plant.

MONDAY, 23 March
        LJUBLJANA - A 67-year-old man with multiple underlying conditions died at the infectious diseases department at the UKC Ljubljana hospital in the third coronavirus-related death in the country as the number of confirmed cases rose by 28 in a day to 442. As many as 13,812 tests were conducted, as rules changed to expand testing to persons older than 60, those with other risk conditions and those with immunodeficiency disorders even if they only have mild symptoms.
        LJUBLJANA - After halving its economic growth forecast for Slovenia for 2020 to 1.5% less than a fortnight ago, the government economic think-tank IMAD projected a 6-8% contraction in the country's GDP due the worsening coronavirus crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - A survey by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) found 93% of the companies surveyed had serious difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic and its ramifications, with 40% expecting a more than 70% drop in revenue in March, a further 18% expect to halve their revenue and as many project a fall of at least 30%. The chamber estimated a stimulus package of between EUR 2-4 billion was needed to avert an economic and social crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar revealed following a videoconference with his EU counterparts that more than 1,000 Slovenians were still looking to get repatriated amid the travel restrictions across the globe prompted by the pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - A public opinion poll conducted for the commercial broadcaster POP TV before the lockdown measures, put the voter approval rating for the government at 45.4% and the ruling Democrats (SDS) in the lead among parties on 20%.
        LJUBLJANA - Jernej Pintar, director of the Ljubljana Technology Park, told the newspaper Finance that several groups of engineers were developing various types of ventilators to meet the demand among a growing number of Covid-19 patients; the first prototypes were turned on the day before after development of several versions started over a week ago.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Social Democrats (SD) announced that MP Franc Trček, who left the opposition Left after the National Assembly appointed the Janez Janša cabinet, was joining their deputy faction, which hence members eleven deputies in the 90-strong lower chamber.

TUESDAY, 24 March
        LJUBLJANA - The government presented a package of economic stimulus measures worth roughly EUR 2 billion designed to protect jobs and keep society in general functioning through the crisis. The measures, yet to be hashed out in the form of legislation, include loan guarantees for companies, purchase of claims to companies, co-financing of social contributions, temporary basic income for the self-employed and a one-off allowance for pensioners. Matej Lahovnik, the economist who heads a special task force of economists and executives advising the government on the measures, said this was the biggest stimulus ever in Slovenian history. PM Janez Janša and Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj assured the public that the funds to finance the package were sufficient, with reliable sources available to tap into. Both the opposition and businesses welcomed the package.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded the fourth coronavirus-related death as an elderly woman died at the Šmarje pri Jelšah nursing home, one of the hotspots of the coronavirus epidemic in the country. The woman had multiple underlying chronic conditions and died "at a very advanced age". The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Slovenia was up by 38 in a day to 480.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia issued EUR 850 million worth of three-year bonds and increased by EUR 250 million the existing 10-year bond issue due in March 2029. The newspaper Finance reported that the required yield on the three-year bond is 0.253% and 0.695% on the nine-year debt.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan welcomed the decision of EU European affairs ministers who agreed via videoconference to let Albania and North Macedonia begin accession talks after a series of setbacks. Dovžan said the step was a vital political signal for the region indicating a path to EU membership. He also stressed the importance of the EU's practical approach in tackling other open issues in the Western Balkans.
        LJUBLJANA - The Agency for Public Legal Records (AJPES) said that 779 sole proprietors had closed shop due to coronavirus-related measures between 1 and 20 March, which is 44% more than in the same period last year, 48% more than had been the case for 1-20 February and 29% more than in the 1-20 January period.
        LJUBLJANA - Fresh police data showed an increase in the flow of illegal migrants across the Slovenian border despite the coronavirus pandemic, a trend attributed to warmer weather. Last week alone, 234 migrants were recorded, but no one tested positive for the novel virus. Slovenian police recorded 1,165 cases of people crossing the border illegally in the first two months of the year, an increase of 80% compared with the same period a year ago.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Večer reported that former Istrabenz CEO Igor Bavčar and former Laško CEO Boško Šrot were allegedly among some 130 prisoners who were released early as a result of efforts to stem the coronavirus spread.
        LJUBLJANA - Due to plummeting of global oil prices amid the Russia-Saudi price war and the coronavirus turmoil, administered fuel prices in Slovenia slumped to a multi-year low. The price of regular sold at service stations outside the motorway network fell 17.6 cents to EUR 1.029 per litre, the lowest since May 2009, and diesel was down 12.9 cents to EUR 1.017, the lowest since March 2016.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Olympic Committee (OKS) chairman Bogdan Gabrovec welcomed the decision to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, saying that common sense had prevailed. The OKS called on the government to include sport in its measures to mitigate the crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian basketball player Luka Dončić, one of the key players of the Dallas Mavericks and former member of Real Madrid, was named to the EuroLeague's 2010-2020 All-Decade Team, as a third pick after Spanish Juan Carlos Navarro and American Kyle Hines.

WEDNESDAY, 25 March
        VIENNA, Austria - Drago Jančar, arguably Slovenia's leading contemporary writer, won the Austrian State Prize for European Literature 2020. The life-time achievement award, handed out each year, comes with a check of EUR 25,000. "Taking an individual to penetratingly render understandable the delusions of our history: this is one of the big strengths of his literature," the jury wrote about the 71-year-old.
        LJUBLJANA - A fifth coronavirus-related death in Slovenia was confirmed as another resident died in the Šmarje pri Jelšah nursing home, one of the hotspots of the epidemic in the country. The number of people infected rose by 48, the largest daily increase, to 526, 73 of whom healthcare workers.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia reintroduced border checks with Austria at 13 checkpoints to restrict access to the country because of the coronavirus epidemic. The same rules already apply on the Italian border.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to wait before it formally proposes the activation of a legislative provision that gives the military limited police powers in controlling the border, saying it plans to consult parliamentary groups as a two-third majority is needed in parliament. The article's invocation had been endorsed by President Borut Pahor in his capacity of commander-in-chief of the Slovenian Armed Forces.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Nine EU leaders, including Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Janša, called for eurozone countries to jointly issue debt, a coronabond, in order to fight the devastating impact of coronavirus on the European economies, in a letter to President of the European Council Charles Michel.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor endorsed the government action to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Slovenia as well as the EUR 2 billion stimulus package. In an interview broadcast on TV Slovenija, Pahor said the composition of the group of experts advising the government on the crisis measures inspired great confidence, and the measures themselves were a step in the right direction.
        LJUBLJANA - The first of two convoys designed to repatriate Serbian citizens stranded in Slovenia due to Serbia closing its borders to curb the coronavirus epidemic, including to its own citizens, headed for the country after the Slovenian government reached an agreement with Serbia to organise transport for around 400 Serbian citizens returning from other European countries. The other convoy left for Serbia on 26 March.
        LJUBLJANA - A major shipment of much needed personal protective equipment arrived in Slovenia from the Czech Republic as an increasing number of businesses were joining the effort to meet the needs. A plane carrying 25,700 surgical masks and 5,000 protective suits landed at Ljubljana airport. This was following the 23 March shipment of 125,000 surgical masks, 93,000 pairs of gloves, 856 Tyvek suits, 20,000 head covers and 2,550 shoe covers. Two companies in Slovenia launched protective face mask production.
        LJUBLJANA - The government's emergency response unit, set up on 13 March to help manage the response to the coronavirus crisis, was dissolved after all capacities attached to the unit had been taken over by the relevant ministries and their departments.
        LJUBLJANA - The government formally submitted to UNESCO the multi-national bid for placing the Lipizzan horse breeding and related practices on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Slovenian-led bid to include the tradition in the longer of the two UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists also includes Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Slovakia.

THURSDAY, 26 March
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Janez Janša, National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič and National Council President Alojz Kovšca met to discuss the functioning of political institutions and joint action during the coronavirus crisis. They said action must be effective but also democratic so as to prevent a decline of trust in democratic institutions.
        LJUBLJANA - A resident of the Metlika nursing home died of complications caused by the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of Covid-19-related deaths in Slovenia to six. Total number of Covid-19 cases confirmed so far is 562, with a A total of 17,294 tests having been conducted.
        LJUBLJANA - The central bank said in its latest report that the banking system remained strong capital- and liquidity-wise but should now brace for a fast drop in profitability. A total of EUR 15.4 million in pre-tax profit for banks in Slovenia was reported for January, a 61% decrease year-on-year.
        LJUBLJANA - A survey showed that Slovenians are still worried about the coronavirus epidemic, but an increasing number (57%) believe the situation is improving. Only a week ago, over 50% of those polled said the situation was getting worse.
        LJUBLJANA - The Manager Association said it had elected Medeja Lončar, the director of Siemens Slovenija and CEO of Siemens Hrvatska, its new president. Lončar, who is succeeding Aleksander Zalaznik after he served two three-year terms, has been among the leading entrepreneurs in Slovenia and Croatia and already served as the association's vice-president in the previous term.

All our posts in this series are here

27 Mar 2020, 14:25 PM

STA, 27 March 2020 - Matevž Dular, a lecturer and researcher at the Ljubljana Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded the prestigious Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award. This is the second Bessel prize for a Slovenian researcher in as many years, last-year's winner being particle physicist Jure Zupan.

Financed by the German government and conferred by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation on around 20 scientists each year, the honour includes a EUR 45,000 grant and a six-month research project in Germany.

The Bessel prize is intended for non-German scientists and scholars, internationally renowned in their field, who completed their doctorates less than 18 years ago and are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements which will have a seminal influence on their discipline beyond their immediate field of work.

Dular, who was honoured for his impressive list of academic achievements, specialises in fluid mechanics, ultrasound, cavitation and water purification.

The award comes with an invitation to cooperate with German experts in a project of his choosing. Dular was nominated for the prize by professor Claus-Dieter Ohl of the Otto von Guericke Mageburg University for Natural Sciences, which said Dular is to spend six months at the Physics Institute there to research application possibilities for cavitation.

Dular talks about his work, with English subtitles

His young age (41) notwithstanding, Dular has worked for over four years at universities in Germany, France an US and also led several projects for the European Space Agency. With a project involving the use of cavitation for water purification he has helped secure a EUR 2m grant from the European Research Council (ERC).

Meanwhile, Slovenia had another Bessel Research Award winner last year in Jure Zupan, a professor at the University of Cincinnati. He was honoured for his research on dark matter, antimatter and subatomic particles called quarks.

Zupan has also been honoured with the NSF Early Career Award and is an American Physical Society Fellow. As a post-doctoral researcher he has worked at the Technion University in Israel and at the Carnegie Mellon University in the US. He is a co-founder of the popular science web portal Kvarkadabra and author of four popular science books.

27 Mar 2020, 14:20 PM

STA, 27 March 2020 - 2TDK, the state company managing the construction of the new railway between the port of Koper and Divača, has signed an EU 8.5 million contract with a consortium led by Markomark Nival on the construction of bridges across the Glinščica Valley, one of the first large structures on the new track.

The contract covers the construction of two bridges, which is expected to take 15 months. Under initial plans, the work should start in August and finish in November 2021.

The EU is to fund 85% of the Glinščica Valley project. However, missing the December 2021 deadline for the completion of the project would result in the European funding needing to be returned. To catch the deadline, work would need to begin in mid-2020 at the latest.

The contract was signed on Friday by 2TDK director general Dušan Zorko and director Marko Brezigar. Due to coronavirus measures, Markomark CEO Nival Marko Peter and Ekorel CEO Zoran Pogačar signed it separately.

The signing of the contract comes after the consortium, which won the public tender for the first of several bridges on the planned new Koper-Divača railway, was rejected over flawed documentation but was later successful with its appeal. Markomark Nival was asked to supplement its file.

27 Mar 2020, 09:30 AM

STA, 26 March 2020 - The Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS) has warned that as many as 1,400 sole proprietors closed their business this month and proposes that these also be included in the measures planned by the government to alleviate the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic if they opt to relaunch their business.

The OZS says that many of the sole proprietors have closed their firms in order to avoid paying social security contributions and taxes at a time when demand for their services and products has died down.

"We need to understand the distress of many sole proprietors who lost their income overnight... and because there was only talk of deferring the payment of contributions and taxes, many opted to close their businesses," the chamber said on Thursday.

Last week, the National Assembly passed changes allowing sole proprietors to defer the payment of social security contributions and taxes for April, May and June.

This week, the government announced additional measures for sole proprietors, including social security contribution and tax exemptions, and providing a monthly universal income of 70% of the minimum wage.

Details of this proposal are to be defined by the government on Friday.

The OZS warned today that unless sole proprietors who had closed their businesses be included in these measures, they would end up at the Employment Office and in need of welfare, becoming an additional burden for the state.

The OZS also proposes that the measures planned be effective as of 1 March, when the slump in orders had begun to show.

27 Mar 2020, 04:57 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA:

Top officials pledge effective and democratic action

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's top officials met to discuss the functioning of political institutions and joint action during the coronavirus crisis. They said action must be effective but also democratic so as to prevent a decline of trust in democratic institutions. "The way we survive the crisis will determine how we live after the crisis," President Borut Pahor said after talks with Prime Minister Janez Janša and the heads of both chambers of parliament, National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič and National Council President Alojz Kovšca. Janša said the government was working efficiently and lawfully, with the measures realistic and feasible.

Sixth Covid-19-related death in Slovenia confirmed

LJUBLJANA - An resident of the Metlika nursing home died last night of complications caused by the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of Covid-19-related deaths in Slovenia to six. The person had several underlying conditions, the head of UKC Ljubljana's infectious disease clinic Tatjana Lejko Zupanc announced. There are currently 41 persons at the infectious disease clinic treated for Covid-19, of which 11 are in intensive care. A total of 36 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed on Wednesday, bringing the total number to 562. A total of 17,294 tests have been conducted so far.

Pahor endorses govt coronavirus action

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor endorsed the government action to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Slovenia as well as the EUR 2 billion stimulus package. In an interview broadcast on the late night Odmevi news show on TV Slovenija, Pahor said the composition of the group of experts advising the government on the crisis measures inspired great confidence, and the measures themselves were a step in the right direction. "I'm not saying they are ideal or that they won't need amendments and adjustments on the go, but I feel they are being taken on time and are such that no one will be left behind," he said.

Central bank says banks strong but need to expect drop in profitability

LJUBLJANA - Banka Slovenije, the central bank, said in its report for January that the banking system remained strong capital- and liquidity-wise but should now brace for a fast drop in profitability. It wrote that the EUR 596 million in pre-tax profit recorded by banks in Slovenia last year had been a historical high and advised them to distribute this profit carefully now. As for January, the central bank reported EUR 15.4 million in pre-tax profit for banks in Slovenia, a 61% decrease year-on-year. It pointed out that the net easing of impairments and provisions that also marked last year had practically ended.

Janša optimistic as first coronavirus patients recover

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša presented some encouraging news as Slovenia fights the coronavirus crisis, saying some of those who had fallen ill with Covid-19 have recovered and have been discharged from hospital. What is more, the condition of the first patient who needed a ventilator has improved so that they can now breath on their own. "The fact that someone tests positive for the virus does not automatically mean they will end up in intensive care," he said optimistically, noting these encouraging developments showed the disease was manageable.

Slovenia's stock of protective gear sufficient for at least a week

LJUBLJANA - After Slovenia received several shipments of protective gear in the past few days, its current stock should suffice at least for a week, chief of the civil protection service Srečko Šestan told the press. Slovenia currently has over 7,500 protective suits, 26,000 FFP3/N95 masks, 790,000 surgical masks, 100,000 IIR surgical masks and 7.7 million pairs of gloves. New orders have also been placed, so there should be enough protective gear in the future as well, said Economy Ministry State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti. Given the number of companies making face masks in Slovenia now, Cantarutti believes the country will eventually reach a certain degree of self-sufficiency in this respect.

Survey: Slovenians quite optimistic about coronavirus situation

LJUBLJANA - Slovenians are still worried about the coronavirus epidemic, but an increasing number (57%) believe the situation is improving, a survey carried out by pollster Valicon between 23 and 25 March shows. Only a week ago, over 50% of those polled said the situation was getting worse. While 3% even think the situation is improving considerably, the number of those who believe it is much worse than it was has dropped from 8% last week to only 3%. And while 84% of the 566 polled respondents are worried, two points up from last week, only 25% are very worried, a drop of two points.

Medeja Lončar becomes new president of Manager Association

LJUBLJANA - The Manager Association has elected Medeja Lončar, the director of Siemens Slovenija and CEO of Siemens Hrvatska, its new president, the association announced. Lončar, who is succeeding Aleksander Zalaznik after he served two three-year terms, has for some time been among the leading entrepreneurs in Slovenia and Croatia and already served as the association's vice-president in the previous term. Petra Juvančič, presently the head of public relations at mutual insurer Vzajemna, will join Lončar as executive director in June. Succeeding Saša Mrak Hendrickson, Juvančič has been active at the Slovenian Insurance Association.

Association urges responsible reporting

LJUBLJANA - The Association of Journalists and Commentators (ZNP) welcomed the government's stimulus measures and urged media to report on the coronavirus crisis responsibly eschewing politically-motivated sensationalism. "We at the ZNP must dissociate ourselves from the work of journalists who depict state measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus as some kind of introduction of political dictatorship. This is conduct that has nothing in common with reporting ethics and professionalism," the association said in a press release.

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