27 Jul 2021, 11:58 AM

STA, 27 July 2021 - While the number of white stork pairs has been constant or increasing throughout Slovenia in recent years, it has been steadily decreasing in the north-eastern region of Prekmurje, which is the typical stork habitat in Slovenia.

Around 200 pairs nested in Slovenia in 1999, while last year there were 259, said Damijan Denac, the director of the Bird Watching and Bird Study Society of Slovenia.

The society, which has been monitoring the number of white stork pairs in the country since 1999, notes that this species has started to colonise areas where it had not traditionally nested before.

Denac explained that the stork population has increased in the area between Grosuplje and Novo Mesto, where no storks nested in 1999, while there are about 20 pairs today, as well as in Bela Krajina, the Ljubljana Marshes and the plains around Krško.

Storks also nest in other locations. "It is important to note, however, that the white stork is slowly but steadily disappearing from its traditional breeding area, Prekmurje," Denac said.

He believes that the reasons lie in environmental changes, especially food sources. Stork feed on insects, small mammals and amphibians, which are most often found in meadows. However, as intensive farming in Prekmurje has left very few meadows, there is not enough food left for storks.

"It is worrying that the consequences are being felt in a species that is not even a great ecological specialist, as the stork has a fairly wide range of prey. This means that the general state of biodiversity in the area is very poor."

The white stork is a long-lived species; it lives for up to 20 or 25 years and returns to the same nest every year. Unlike their parents, the young do not return to the nest where they were hatched, but settle elsewhere, including in other countries.

In the last few years, the society has been conducting research in which 10 young white storks have been fitted with tracking devices. They have found that the storks migrate quite actively until sexual maturity. For example, one of them migrated from Sudan to Turkey and back to Egypt.

26 Jul 2021, 12:33 PM

STA, 25 July 2021 - The Covid-19 epidemic has left an indelible mark on Slovenia's demographics. A negative natural change recorded in Slovenia last year was the highest since 1945 due to high mortality as the number of deaths exceeded the number of births by almost 5,250, show data by the Statistics Office.

The 2020 natural population decrease is mostly a result of above-average high mortality in November and December during the second Covid-19 wave, the Statistics Office said on Friday.

More than 24,000 residents died last year, an increase of nearly 3,800 on the average figure recorded in 2015-2019. Excess mortality was the highest in the last quarter of 2020 when the relevant average was up by two thirds compared to the same period in 2015-2019.

A positive natural change was recorded only in the third quarter of 2020 when some 5,140 babies were born. In total about 18,770 babies were born last year, down by 3% on 2019.

On average, 51 babies were born per day in 2020, 66 residents died, 28 got married and ten got a divorce, 99 moved into Slovenia and 48 moved out.

Domestic migration increased by some 40% in 2020, mainly due to Covid restrictions and ensuing registrations of temporary residence.

Also due to Covid restrictions, the number of weddings decreased by almost 25% on 2019 to some 5,200 and the total of divorces dropped by 28% to some 1,770, the Statistics Office said.

Slovenia recorded what is the highest positive net migration since 2008 last year as the number of those who moved in exceeded the total of those who moved out by almost 18,400.

More on this data

25 Jul 2021, 07:07 AM

STA, 24 July 2021 - Under the government's decision made on Friday evening hospitality providers in Slovenia will have to check guests' Covid certificates from Monday. The rule already applies to organisers of public events and gatherings.

Visitors to indoor venues such as pubs, cafes, restaurants, casinos, clubs and accommodation facilities have had to observe the rule that they be vaccinated, tested or have recovered from coronavirus for quite a long time already, but from now on the establishments themselves must check compliance before entry.

The government decided this at Friday's correspondence session due to a rapid spread of the Delta variant in the EU. The new rule is in place until 1 August for now, said the Government Communication Office.

Hospitality providers are also required to notify customers of the Covid certificate requirement by displaying a sign instructing them to heed the rule.

To produce a valid certificate through testing one must have a rapid test result no older than 48 hours or a PCR test result no older than 72 hours, the same time windows that apply when crossing the border or attending public events.

The certificate requirement does not apply to outdoor hospitality venues as long as physical distancing is observed.

23 Jul 2021, 14:32 PM

STA, 23 July 2021 - Organisers of public events and gatherings must check visitors' Covid certificates as of Friday under a regulation that the government put in place yesterday. A mobile app has been released, for now only for devices running Google's Android operating system. A version for Apple devices is expected within two weeks.

Visitors to public events have long had to comply with the requirement that they be vaccinated, tested or have recovered from coronavirus, but from now organisers must check compliance.

When a Covid certificate QR code is scanned with the app, the only information that shows up is the holder's name, date of birth and whether they have a valid Covid certificate, according to Anže Kavšek, who works in tech support at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

The checking of compliance is coupled with shorted validity of both rapid tests and the more reliable PCR tests. Until yesterday a week-old test sufficed for admission to public events and religious gatherings, now a rapid test is valid for 48 hours and a PCR test 72 hours, the same time windows that apply when crossing the border.

The NIJZ said this was a decision backed by science since reliability declines strongly after 48 and 72 hours, respectively. The new time windows are in place until 1 August for now.

Health Minister Janez Poklukar told today's press conference that the app would not share any personal data with the organisers. Neither would they be able to see which of the three Covid certificate conditions has been met, he added. The minister highlighted that only the police could ID people, however in the event of potential abuses of the app or wrongdoings, he expects citizens would report this to the authorities.

The Information Commissioner has launched a supervision of the new app, which is reportedly the same as the one checked by the police at border crossings, warning of a potential lack of a legal basis.

Quoting media reports, Information Commissioner Mojca Prelesnik said that transposing apps which had been used by the police to the private sector should not be done without an appropriate legal framework. Moreover, personal data should not be processed for various purposes without an appropriate legal basis, she warned.

Prelesnik also highlighted that any restrictions and related personal data processing should be in line with the Constitution, law and the principle of proportionality. She noted in a press release that her office had not been informed about the details of the app so far and had not been given access to it beforehand to weigh in on it.

22 Jul 2021, 16:15 PM

STA, 22 July 2021 - Covid certificates have been mandatory for all guests at events for some time, but they have rarely been checked at the gate. Now, the government has decided to make verification of compliance mandatory at all events.

Persons who do not have a Covid certificate - a paper of electronic document proving that they have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months - must be prohibited from entering the venue, the government said after Thursday's session.

"This is not about imposing additional burdens on anyone ... it is about those attending events doing so safely and with the knowledge that they will not get sick," Mateja Logar, the head of the government's Covid advisory group, told the press.

Compliance will be checked with an app developed by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), which only verifies the Covid certificate without revealing personal data, according to Logar.

The new rules enter into effect a day after they are published in the Official Gazette.

21 Jul 2021, 12:16 PM

STA, 20 July 2021 - The latest survey by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) shows that between 27.5% and 32.1% are still unwilling to get vaccinated against Covid-19. This is as almost 37% of the population has already been fully inoculated.

Releasing the 13th SI-PANDA survey on the impact of Covid-19 on people's lives, NIJZ noted that the proportion of fully-vaccinated people was steadily increasing.

The latest data on the NIJZ website shows that 36.5% of Slovenia's population has been fully vaccinated and 42% of the people have received their first dose.

Asked what would affect most their decision on getting the jab, most of those questioned said it would depend on whether there was sufficient data available on the vaccine being safe and effective, on whether the vaccine had been used for a while and on whether they would be able to choose between vaccines.

The main reasons cited by those unwilling to get vaccinated are concerns about side effects and the jab's long-term effect on their health and the belief that vaccines are not safe.

Nearly two out of three respondents (61.5%) reported that the pandemic had negatively impacted on their social contacts with their extended family and friends and just over one in three reported taking less exercise and as many saying their financial security had deteriorated.

On the other hand, those noticing a positive effect of the pandemic reported mainly taking more exercise.

The proportion of those who experienced stress increased compared with the CINDI survey conducted about a year ago. Nearly one fourth of respondents in the latest survey reported experiencing stress often or on a daily basis, about 7% more than in 2020.

Nearly three out of four of those who have had Covid-19 reported having issues still a month after recovering from the disease.

The survey is based on of WHO questionnaire, adapted to the Slovenia situation, which makes data internationally comparable.

20 Jul 2021, 14:38 PM

STA, 20 July 2021 - Slovenia started issuing digital certificates on 24 June, but initially they were only available on the national e-health website, which requires a digital identity to access.

In early July, the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) then sent out paper copies of the digital certificate to around 900,000 residents.

Since last week users can download the eZVEM app to their mobile devices running Apple's IOS or Google's Android operating system. To activate the app, they need one of two national digital identities.

To use digital Covid certificate data basis without internet access, registration is not needed. The users only need to scan the QR code of their digital Covid certificate to save it on their mobile device.

"The app and the genuine digital certificate are steps in continuation of the previously announced digitalisation and modernisation of Slovenian healthcare and public administration," said the health minister.

The key change is that parents will be able to download on their mobile phones the certificates of their children and other family members.

"In this way digital certificates will be always with you and will ease entry not only to other countries but also into cultural institutions, hotels, restaurants, sports venues," said Poklukar.

The new mobile app also makes it possible to access health documents such as e-prescriptions, e-referrals, waiting times and test results.

Poklukar also announced a special app that would allow event organisers to check "anonymously" whether visitors to public events have been either vaccinated, have recovered from Covid or tested negative.

This was as organizers have so far not been obliged to check whether the visitors meet one of the three conditions, even though that was a condition for access to the event.

"We would like participants in public events to attend them safely and to stay safe after the event, to not see a repeat of a football event like a year and a half ago becoming a source of infection or an outbreak," said Poklukar.

Calling on everyone to get a jab, he said as doctor he favoured those who have been vaccinated to be able to attend school in person, use public transport, go to the theatre, restaurant or hotel when the delta variant is set to spread in the autumn and winter.

Poklukar said that the country had so far allocated EUR 53.5 million for rapid tests, nearly EUR 70 million for PCR tests, while the cost of more than 17,000 Covid hospitalisations had been EUR 195 million.

NIJZ has so far recorded the issuance of 160,626 certificates proving recovery from Covid, 103,471 PCR test certificates, 504,852 vaccination certificates and 257,431 rapid test certificates, which are data from all issuing points and apps.

Get the app for Apple's iOS or Google's Android operating systems. You'll need a national digital identity to activiate it.

20 Jul 2021, 11:56 AM

STA, 20 July 2021 - The Muslim community celebrates Eid al-Adha from 20 to 23 July. The main ceremony of this major Muslim holiday took place on Tuesday morning at the Muslim Cultural Centre in Ljubljana, with Mufti Nevzet Porić leading the prayer.

Also called Eid Qurban or Bakra-Eid, Eid al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice) is considered the holier of the two major Muslim holidays and also marks the end of the annual Hajj to the holy city of Mecca.

"The Hajj is a symbol of unity and deep belief, but also of diversity among people. It teaches that everything is passable on Earth and that ethical and moral values are key for harmonious mutual relations," the Islamic Community in Slovenia has said.

Mufti Nevzet Porić addressed the faithful at Tuesday's ceremony at the Muslim Cultural Centre in Ljubljana stressing the importance of vaccination and personal responsibility.

"In the past year, we had an emergency situation, where religious freedom was restricted as well, but we respected all the decrees of the competent institutions for the sake of health and saving lives," Porić said.

He endorsed calls by health experts for vaccination against Covid-19, expressing hope that closures of religious facilities will not happen again, as any restrictions on public life make the community's work more difficult.

The Mufti also explained that no one from Slovenia took part in the Hajj this year, as the number of pilgrims was limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additional prayers were organised on Tuesday in Kranj, Tržič, Jesenice, Škofja Loka, Postojna, Ajdovščina, Koper, Kočevje, Trbovlje, Celje, Velenje, Maribor, Sežana, Izola, Nova Gorica, Krško and Novo Mesto. Worshippers were obliged to wear masks and observe physical distancing rules.

18 Jul 2021, 15:30 PM

STA, 17 July 2021 - Slovenia recorded what is the highest positive net migration since 2008 last year as almost 18,400 people more moved in than out. The Statistics Office says part of the reason for the increase is administrative changes in the population register.

Last year 36,110 people moved into Slovenia and 17,745 moved out, which marks an increase of 15% and 17%, respectively, compared with the year before.

The number of Slovenian citizens moving their permanent residence to Slovenia trebled to 11,360, which was due to cessation of temporary residence abroad under new provisions of the residence registration act.

Under those provisions, temporary address abroad ceased to 22,248 individuals ex officio as of 13 August 2020. Under the existing statistical methodology, 18,500 of those individuals would be included in the population and immigration count in 2020.

However, using different additional data sources, especially those that define the person's activity status from which it is possible to assume the person's actual residence in Slovenia, the statisticians eventually included fewer than 7,500 of those people in the final population count (among them 97% Slovenian citizens and 3% foreigners).

The Statistics Office says the majority of those residents most likely immigrated to Slovenia years or even decades ago, but failed to register their return at the administrative unit for some reason.

Net migration of foreign nationals was positive for the 22nd year in a row. Last year, 12,816 more foreigners moved into Slovenia than out.

Most of the Slovenian citizens that moved to Slovenia had previously resided in Germany or Austria (29% and 18% respectively), followed by Italy, Croatia and Switzerland.

Nearly half of all foreign immigrants in 2020 (46%) came from Bosnia-Herzegovina, followed by those from Kosovo, Serbia, North Macedonia and Croatia.

Last year, 5,811 Slovenian citizens moved out, 12% fewer than in 2019. A quarter (24%) left for Austria with another fifth (19%) moving to Germany.

The Statistics Office also recorded 127,052 internal migrants changing their place of residence within the country a total of 140,223 times last year, an increase of 42% compared with 2019.

This was as 12,461 residents changed their place of residence more than once.

6% of Slovenian population changed their place of residence at least once; one out of nine foreign citizens moved at least once, but only one in twenty Slovenian citizens.

Many of the internal migrations were linked to Covid-19 containment measures as many changed their official residence as movement between municipalities was banned in March and October.

The Statistics Office also recorded 1,725 people acquiring Slovenian citizenship last year as 43 lost it.

You can explore this data here

17 Jul 2021, 10:32 AM

STA, 16 July 2021 - The delta strain of coronavirus has overtaken alpha as the dominant strain in Slovenia in just weeks. In the latest round of sequencing a full 89% of the samples were delta, show data released on Friday by the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food.

Delta, first detected in India, was first confirmed in sequencing five weeks ago and only last week it still accounted for a small though growing share of infections.

The surge in delta is largely the result of a huge outbreak among two groups of students who returned from a school trip to Spain in early July.

While the laboratory does not have information of which samples were from these specific students, it said 60% of the delta samples sequenced this week were among those aged 17 or 18. The regional breakdown of cases confirms that as well.

The alpha variant, first detected in the UK, was confirmed in under 7% of the samples sequenced this week.

17 Jul 2021, 09:19 AM

STA, 16 July 2021 - Fines for speeding offices are being reduced, while those for using a mobile phone while driving are being raised under amendments to the road traffic act passed by the National Assembly on Friday. The new law also regulates electric scooters.

The amendments introduce the possibility to turn right at a red light at crossroads with good visibility and elsewhere where this is possible. These crossroads are to be properly marked.

They set down conditions under which light motor vehicles such as electric wheelchairs, scooters and skateboards can be included in road traffic.

Those vehicles will have to be ridden on bicycle lanes or cycling paths, or where those are not available along the right edge of the roadway in settlements where the speed limit is 50 kilometres an hour.

The driver and passenger on electric scooters or skateboards will need to wear a helmet up to the age of 18.

Drivers overtaking cyclers, drivers of light motor vehicles or mopeds with speed capacity of up to 25 km/h will need to keep a 1.5 metre sideward distance from them.

The amendments also stiffen handling of drivers who ignore light or sound signals on priority vehicles and expand some powers of traffic wardens.

The amendments were passed by 46 votes to one.

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