Lifestyle

04 May 2021, 10:38 AM

STA, 4 May 2021 - The secondary school leaving exam is starting on Tuesday for some 17,000 final-year students. This is the second year in a row that the matura exam is taking place during the coronavirus epidemic, and after matura candidates were on distance learning for several months.

Almost 7,200 candidates have registered to take the general matura in spring alongside 10,620 who registered for the vocational matura exam.

However, just over 2,100 will sit for both types of matura, because some vocational matura candidates will also take one exam at general secondary schools.

The general matura starts for almost 6,625 students today as they write an essay in their mother tongue, while the vocational matura starts on 29 May.

Note: While for most students Slovenian is their mother tongue, Italian and Hungarian are also recognised as minority languages

The general matura exam is seen as more demanding in that it better prepares for university studies.

It consists of five exams - in mother tongue, a foreign language, maths and two elective subjects. The results will be available on 12 June.

To make the matura as safe as possible, the Education Ministry opted for voluntary vaccination for all last-year students, which started last week amid criticism that it had come too late for proper immunisation.

Those in quarantine during the matura period will be able to take exams if they produce a negative PCR test not older than 24 hours.

They will take it in a separate room, while school will have to provide for their separate entry to school and to the classroom.

In mid-April, only some 27 last-year secondary school students were sick with Covid-19, with another 199 in quarantine.

Those who can prove to be infected while the matura exam is on will be able to take it in the autumn, the second slot for the exams.

Last-year secondary school students were on remote learning from late October to mid-February, when they were among the first to return to in-person learning so that they could prepare for the matura.

Before schools reopened mass testing of teachers was rolled out and has now become a weekly routine. Teachers have also been prioritised for vaccination.

02 May 2021, 15:30 PM

STA, 2 May 2021 - The vaccination campaign against Covid-19 has reached two important milestones. According to data by the National Institute of Public Health, more than 20% of the population has received one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine and more than 10% have been fully vaccinated.

So far, 426,043 people have been vaccinated with the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 211,199 have received both doses.

The first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to 236,509 women and 189,534 men. A total of 124,014 women and 87,185 men have received both shots and are considered fully immunised.

Among those over 60 years old, at least 40% have received the first dose of the vaccine, and in the age group of over 65 the share is at 50% or more.

The highest share of vaccinated persons is in the 70-74 age group, where 64% have received the first shot and 45% both.

The most successful regions in terms of vaccination are the Zasavska, Koroška, Goriška regions, central Slovenia and Gorenjska, while the immunisation rate is the lowest in the Pomurska, SE Slovenia, Podravska and Posavska regions.

Of all vaccines available, 253,866 persons have so far received the first dosage of Pfizer, and 187,260 have also received the second dosage.

Another 128,431 people have received the first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine and only 834 have received the second due to problems in the supply.

Meanwhile, 43,687 have received the first shot of Moderna and 22,710 have also receive the second shot.

30 Apr 2021, 10:38 AM

STA, 30 April 2021 - Slovenia had 2,108,977 residents on 1 January, of whom 1,940,326 were citizens of Slovenia and 168,651 were foreigners. A negative trend was observed in the last quarter of 2020, as the number of births decreased and number of deaths increased compared to the same period the year before, the Statistics Office has reported.

On 1 January 2021, men outnumbered women in Slovenia, as there were 1,059,938 male residents and 1,049,039 female residents.

The share of women among the Slovenian citizens, which has been slowly declining for a number of years, stood at 51.1%, while among foreigner residents it was only 34.2%, or a total of 57,742.

In the last quarter of 2020, 7,028 people moved to Slovenia, which is almost 5% less year-on-year, while the number of people who moved out from the country was up by 5% to 5,562.

Related: Foreign Nationals in Slovenia, by Country, Region & Continent (2018 data)

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The number of Slovenian citizens who moved out of the country in the fourth quarter of last year was higher than the number of foreign citizens who moved out, the Statistics Office notes.

According to preliminary data, there were 4,480 births in Slovenia in the last quarter of 2020, while there were 8,431 deaths. The number of births was down 4.7% year-on-year, and the number of deaths was up by 64.8%.

In the fourth quarter of last year, fewer people got married year-on-year, but there were also fewer divorces. The number of new marriages dropped by a quarter to 711, and the number of divorces was down by more than a third to 400.

A total of 43,190 people moved internally within Slovenia in the last quarter of 2020, which is 52% more than in the same period in 2019.

The Statistics Office attributes this mostly to the Covid-19 epidemic, as many people decided to change their residence address due to the ban on travel between municipalities or regions.

29 Apr 2021, 11:12 AM

STA, 28 April 2021 - The government has somewhat eased coronavirus restrictions for retailers and service providers in yellow-tier regions, allowing one customer per 20 square metres of surface area as of Monday, while the condition of one customer per 30 square metres remains unchanged in orange regions.

Moreover, advisory, therapeutic and educational services will be permitted in all regions as of Monday, the government decided on Wednesday.

Moreover, accommodation facilities in yellow regions will be allowed to serve guests indoors, the Government Communication Office said, adding that service will be provided only to guests seated at tables, while night clubs will remain closed.

Five statistical regions are currently in yellow tier: Pomurska, Koroška, Central Slovenia, Obalno-Kraška and Goriška.

28 Apr 2021, 18:11 PM

STA, 28 April 2021 - Vaccination centres across Slovenia will step up their activities in the coming days, as Slovenia expects some 120,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines to be available in the country, Health Minister Janez Poklukar told the press on Wednesday. 

Moreover, Poklukar expects a test run will be launched on a new vaccination application app next week. Apart from being a tool for vaccination, the app is also expected to simplify the administrative side of the vaccination effort.

Poklukar gave a statement for the press today after talking to the heads of vaccination centres and hospitals about the organisational aspects of the vaccination effort.

Slovenia expects large shipments of vaccines next week, he said. Expectedly, 9,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine are to be available, 69,000 doses of AstraZeneca, 6,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson and over 56,000 doses of the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine.

All of the Moderna doses are to be used for second jabs, as will 9,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Where can I get vaccinated for COVID in Slovenia?

Find your local health centre (zdravstveni dom – ZD) in the list here, then click through to the website. These have different styles, but you’re looking for something with COVID-19 ceplenje (COVID-19 vaccination). From there you should get more details and be able to register for a jab (Naročanje na COVID-19 cepljenje)

He estimates that Slovenia could have enough vaccine available in the first half of May to allow it to scrap the priority-group approach to vaccination.

Poklukar believes the biggest challenge in the effort is getting people motivated to get vaccinated. "It is up to all of us to act responsibly so that as many people as possible are inoculated as soon as possible."

Therefore, he asked all residents to apply for a jab and turn up for the vaccination when called.

The minister also counts on healthcare personnel to encourage people to get vaccinated. More than a half of vaccination centres are proactively reaching out to the population over the phone, according to Poklukar.

"The cooperation between a patient and their GP is key. Every resident must be contacted by a trustworthy healthcare worker and motivated to get the jab," said Poklukar.

He admitted that some regions fared better than others, adding that this depended on several factors. In regions where the elderly have poorer access to vaccination centres mobile units will have to be deployed and concessionaires activated, he said.

Vaccination centres could inoculate up to three times as many people as now, said Poklukar, adding that the entire population could be inoculated in only two months at that pace.

The vaccination staff are tired but highly motivated, said Poklukar. Where needed, the Armed Forces and the Civil Protection, which are already involved in the effort, will help the vaccination teams.

Force Commander Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc also took part in the press conference, saying the Armed Forces have been providing support for the Civil Protection and other state bodies. Among other things, the Armed Forces' mobile unit has also been vaccinating Armed Forces members.

Moreover, the Armed Forces have handed over to civilian healthcare teams a vaccination centre at the Kranj barracks and are ready to do the same with another centre in Ljubljana, said Škerbinc.

Civil Protection members meanwhile help out in vaccination centres with organisation and administrative tasks, Civil Protection boss Srečko Šestan said.

So far, over 410,700 people have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, while nearly 175,600 have had two. The share of inoculated population currently stands at 8.4%.

28 Apr 2021, 10:14 AM

STA, 27 April 2021 - Amendments to the foreigners act that tighten residence conditions for foreign citizens in Slovenia and introduce the concept of a complex migration emergency took effect on Tuesday. Declaring the latter would require an absolute majority in parliament.

If a complex emergency is declared under deteriorating migration-related conditions, implementation of the international protection act could be suspended, and access to asylum in Slovenia would be restricted.

Police officers would be able to reject the intention from a foreigner to submit an application for international protection, except if they detect during the procedure certain systemic shortcomings that could put the foreigner under risk of torture, inhumane and degrading treatment in the country where they are being returned to.

Under the new legislation, the health condition of foreigners would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The passage of the legislation in parliament was marked by warnings from the opposition that the criteria for declaring a complex crisis had not been clearly defined.

Criticism was also levelled at the provisions under which the police will assess if a migrant is indeed an unaccompanied minor, with MPs arguing that the police are not appropriately trained for that.

The government argued that the amendments were needed to prevent mass abuses, as organised criminal groups make money by smuggling migrants.

And Interior Minister Aleš Hojs noted that the concept of a complex emergency had already been introduced earlier and that the amendments strictly followed the request of the Constitutional Court that each person be treated individually.

The changes also transpose an EU directive that regulates the situation of foreign students and researchers in Slovenia, and extend the deadline for reuniting families up to two years.

Moreover, Slovenian language skills have been made the new requirement for asylum seekers - a foreigner who is entering the country for the first time should have a basic knowledge of the language.

The A2 level is meanwhile a threshold set for a foreigner who has been residing in Slovenia several years.

While the law formally takes effect today, its application has been deferred until the end of May.

23 Apr 2021, 14:05 PM

STA, 23 April 2021 - Updated 16:15 Slovenians are free to travel between regions and some cultural events are permitted as of Friday under government decrees, but public assembly has been scaled back from a hundred to ten people.

The ten-people limit, which replaces an earlier decree that allowed the public assembly of a hundred people, comes with the caveat that organisers of such events must ask for permission under rules governing public assembly.

The additional limit is one person per 30 square metres for such events indoors and one person per 10 square metres outdoors, and a 1.5-metre distance between people.

The same density restriction but not ten-people limit applies to museums and libraries, which have been open for a while.

In a surprise move late last night, the government also decided that cinemas and theatres may reopen as of today under the same conditions, whereby performers must get tested for coronavirus at least once a week unless they have been vaccinated or have already recovered from Covid-19.

Nevertheless, theatres and cinemas will remain largely closed, with their representatives saying the change had come at a very short notice, that the conditions were irrational, while it was also not clear what happens after 2 May, until the current decree applies.

Ljubljana Puppet Theatre director Uroš Korenčan told the STA not much would change for theatres in the coming week, with some opting to have entire teams take days off.

He said the one-person-per-30-square-metres rule or more if persons are from the same household, was unrealistic, while he admits they are eagerly waiting to start working, which however cannot be done overnight.

Slovenia's Art Cinema Network head Jure Matičič said given the short notice, art cinemas were still deciding what to do, as the person-per-metre condition makes cinemas a non-profitable business.

Reopening cinemas is not as easy as it might seem, he said, explaining that film accessibility was a problem given that agreements with film distributors were made in advance for a longer periods of time.

Kolosej, Ljubljana's largest cinema centre, will also stay closed, while Ljubljana's Kinodvor will reopen on Monday, allowing ten persons per show.

In museums, libraries, cinemas and theatres it is now possible to have gatherings of groups that are otherwise permitted to gather, which means school classes will be able to attend events.

What's on at Kinodvor? Let's find out...

23 Apr 2021, 12:32 PM

STA, 23 April 2021 - All persons over 50 are now eligible for vaccination under a revised vaccination strategy that the government adopted last night. Additional priority groups have been designated as well.

Besides the over 50s, the priority groups now once again include teachers and staff working in critical infrastructure - energy, transport, food and water supply, healthcare, finance, environment protection, and information and communication networks.

Where can I get vaccinated for COVID in Slovenia?

Find your local health centre (zdravstveni dom – ZD) in the list here, then click through to the website. These have different styles, but you’re looking for something with COVID-19 ceplenje (COVID-19 vaccination). From there you should get more details and be able to register for a jab (Naročanje na COVID-19 cepljenje)

Additional priority groups include the pharmaceutical industry, staff essential to the functioning of the state, employees and volunteers offering assistance to chronic patients and other vulnerable groups.

SLED

The change of strategy - this is now the sixth version - comes after the majority of those over 70 who wanted to get a shot have already been vaccinated; the vaccination rates for those above 70 are in the 50-60% range.

In the 60-70 age group, which has been in the focus of the vaccination drive for the past three weeks, roughly 40% have so far received at least one shot of the vaccine.

Overall nearly 390,000 have so far received one shot of the vaccine, or almost 19% of the population, while almost 167,000 or 8% of the population have been fully vaccinated.

Johnson & Johnson jab recommended for all over 18s

STA, 22 April 2021 - The national advisory committee on immunisation has recommended the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine against Covid-19 for everyone over the age of 18, in line with the guidance issued by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Announcing the decision, the body's head Bojana Beović said the use of the vaccine is not being limited to an age group, but the age limit stated in the vaccine's registration will be followed.

According to EMA documentation, the person develops immunity 14 days after getting a Johnson & Johnson jab, said Beović. Only one dose is required.

EMA reviewed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a small number of reports from the US of serious cases of unusual blood clots associated with low levels of blood platelets among people who had received the vaccine.

On Tuesday the regulator announced that blood clots should be listed as as very rare side effects of the vaccine and said the vaccine's benefits outweigh the risks.

EMA adopted the same view on the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Slovenian advisory committee followed suit by recommending the vaccine for over 18s.

Given the planned vaccine supplies, Slovenia expects to be able to inoculate at least 50% of its population or 63% of its adult population by the end of June.

The estimate was made by Milan Krek, the head of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), earlier today.

He said by the end of June Slovenia expected to be supplied about 1.6 million doses of Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines as well as 263,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

It is not clear yet how many AstraZeneca jabs the country will get, but Krek said the vaccination rates would be much higher if this vaccine was supplied as well.

NIJZ data show that 387,213 people have received their first dose of a vaccine against Covid-19 and 156,495 have received two, which means 7.5% of the population has been fully immunised.

All our stories on covid-19 and Slovenia

21 Apr 2021, 22:13 PM

STA, 21 April 2021 - The government has decided to ease restrictions for hospitality establishments as hotels will be allowed to reopen in limited capacity on Monday and bars and restaurants in regions with the lowest rates of infections will be able to serve guests indoors.

In nine regions in the orange tier of restrictions hospitality establishments will be allowed to serve guests outdoors while accommodation establishments with up to 30 rooms will be open for guests with a negative coronavirus test, vaccinated guests and those with proof of a Covid infection in the last six months, according to government decrees adopted on Wednesday.

In three regions in the yellow tier - the coastal Obalno-Kraška and Goriška, and the eastern Pomurska region - guests may also be served indoors and accommodation establishments regardless of size may open, but they may only make 30 rooms available for guests.

The government decree will enter into force on Saturday but the provisions on accommodation apply from Monday, the ministry said.

With the country shifting to orange and yellow tiers, restrictions on movement between regions will be lifted as of Friday and public events for up to ten people will be allowed under strict public health conditions.

Next week all educational institutions will open, which means in-person lectures at universities and higher education institutions will be allowed again. A hybrid model is recommended, combining in-person and remote classes. Student dorms will also open.

The relaxation of restrictions follows appeals by businesses for a faster pace of reopening and comes just ahead of the week-long May Day school holiday.

All our stories on Slovenia and coronavirus

20 Apr 2021, 13:58 PM

STA, 20 April 2021 - Slovenia's curve of coronavirus infections keeps on its downward trajectory; 718 people tested positive on Monday to push the rolling 7-day average down further by 48 to 737, data released by the government show. Five patients with Covid-19 died.

Marking the sixth day that the daily increase in infections declined from the same day a week ago, the latest cases were confirmed from 3,537 PCR tests, for a positivity rate of 20.3%. In addition, 39,436 rapid antigen tests were performed.

When can I go to the pub? What the numbers mean for getting back to normal…

Covid-19 hospitalisations dropped by three to 649 after 71 patients were admitted and 69 were discharged yesterday. The number of patients in intensive care dropped by one to 156, Maja Bratuša, the government's Covid-19 spokesperson, told the daily press briefing on Tuesday.

Yesterday, Mateja Logar, the government's chief Covid-19 adviser, told reporters the effects of the 11-day lockdown around Easter should reflect in hospitals in about a week.

The cumulative 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents rose to 584 from 563 the day before and the 7-day average is at 246.

Infections are again reported at care homes despite most of the residents and staff being vaccinated against Covid-19.

Cveto Uršič, a state secretary at the Labour Ministry, said outbreaks were reported at care homes in Trbovlje, Domžale and the Ljubljana Fužine borough, while there were no infections in other regions.

In the week from 12 to 18 April, 47 care home residents were infected and 26 staff, up from nine residents and 19 staff in the week before.

"The number is very low considering there are about 18,900 residents and 12,200 staff in all care homes in the country," said Uršič.

Out of the 28 infected in the Trbovlje home, 26 had been vaccinated with two doses, while one had had Covid-19 before. The source of the infection has not been established.

The infected residents have been isolated, and Romana Martinčič, the director of the Trbovlje general hospital, said they all had mild symptoms and were not expected to require hospital care.

Martinčič believes they were likely infected with a new variant of the virus because transmissions are spreading fast. Samples are still being analysed to establish what the mutation was.

The Domžale care home has seven confirmed infections, including in a new resident. Most are not displaying symptoms, while one of the infected residents whose condition had been bad before caught the virus has died, said Uršič.

All residents in the home except one who had recovered from Covid-19 before had received two jabs of the Covid-19.

Eleven residents also tested positive in the care home in Ljubljana's Fužine borough. Six of them had been inoculated twice and two once, while three had neither been vaccinated nor had had the disease before. The source of infections has not been established yet.

Data from the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) show a total of 374,730 people have received the first dose of a vaccine against Covid-19 and 146,355 have received two, which means 7% of the population has been fully immunised.

Slovenia has reported 233,033 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, of which 12,306 are active cases, according to NIJZ.

20 Apr 2021, 12:14 PM

STA, 19 April - Two more Romanian lynxes arrived in Slovenia the past weekend as part of the international Life Lynx project after one arrived in March. The male Zois and female Aida will first spend some time in the adjustment enclosure in Jelovica in the north before being released into the wild.

Five lynxes are to arrive in the Gorenjska and Primorska regions by the end of the year.

The transport of the two wild cats was carried out smoothly, as an experienced team from the Ljubljana Zoo and the Forest Service was in charge of the project, says on the website of the project.

As the two lynxes will be adapting to the new environment in the enclosure, local hunters will look after them. Since lynxes are very timid animals, it is important that they are not disturbed, so the location of the enclosure has not been made public and people are urged not to approach it.

Hunters also picked the name for the male, naming him after one of the most influential figures of the Enlightenment Era in the Slovenian lands, Žiga Zois (1747-1819).

The resettlement of Zois and Aida marks the end of the third successful season for the Romanian ACDB team catching the animals. So far the team has caught eight lynxes as part of the Life Lynx project that will help save the lynx population of the Dinaric Alps and SE Alps from extinction.

According to the partners to the project, this year has been exceptional in terms of catching lynxes for resettlement. Slovakian and Romanian partners activated box traps in January and caught six lynxes for resettlement by the end of the March.

Two males and a female were caught in Romania, and a male and two females in Slovakia.

The first lynx, which was caught in Romania at the end of January, was moved to the adjustment enclosure in Pokljuka in March.

Primary school students from the Community of Schools of the Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve named him Tris, which is a compound of Mt Triglav and the Slovenian world for lynx.

He is to wait for two more females in the enclosure before they are all released into the wild.

The two female lynxes that were caught in Slovakia in March are also to be moved to the Gorenjska region, while the male caught in Slovakia will go to Croatia.

There have been no reports of reproduction of lynxes in the Gorenjska region since early 20th century, so the Life Lynx project aims to create a connective population of the wild cats at the intersection of the Dinaric Alps and SE Alps, which is to improve the natural gene flow and increase the chances for mating with neighbouring lynx populations in the Alps.

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