Lifestyle

15 Feb 2021, 11:26 AM

STA, 15 February 2021 - Bans on gatherings and travel between municipalities and regions have been lifted as movement throughout the country and gatherings of up to ten persons are once again allowed after Slovenia shifted to the orange tier of restrictions. All shops are now open as well.

A ban on travel outside one's municipality of residence was imposed in October with a number of exemptions, including for work, education, looking after sick persons and tending to property.

So far, gatherings in public spaces have been allowed for families and members of the same household, but from today they are capped at ten persons. Larger assemblies, events or rallies are still banned and the 9pm-6am curfew remains in place.

All shops may open as of today as well, under the condition that staff test negative for coronavirus. They will have to be tested weekly.

Restrictions have also been lifted in the sports and recreation world with contactless training allowed for individuals and groups of a maximum of ten athletes.

Physical distancing protocols should be heeded and coaches or trainers must produce a negative coronavirus test no older than 24 hours, vaccination certificate or a document attesting they have already recovered from Covid-19.

One of these documents must be also produced by users of ski lifts and staff in direct contact with clients in ski resorts, however in this case the negative test should not be older than 7 days.

Sports events remain spectator-free for now.

14 Feb 2021, 12:22 PM

STA, 14 February 2021 - Slovenia logged 329 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, down a third over the week before, as the positive trend, in particular in hospitals, continued. Twelve Covid-19 patients died, the latest government data shows.

The new cases come from over 1,800 PCR tests and over 5,000 rapid antigen tests, whereby all those who test positive with rapid tests are subsequently re-tested with the more reliable PCR tests.

The system has been put in place effective yesterday after there were clusters of cases across the country where rapid tests were positive but follow-up PCR tests negative.

Hospital numbers continued to improve as well. The number of Covid-19 patients declined by 24 to 739, the lowest since late October, while ICU cases dropped by 23 to 149, the lowest since early November.

Slovenia has confirmed 179,482 cases since the start of the pandemic, according to the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ). The death count stands at 3,717, according to data tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik.

The number of active cases is estimated by the NIJZ at just under 13,000, whereas the seven-day average of new daily infections dropped to 823.

13 Feb 2021, 08:57 AM

STA, 12 February 2021 - Remote schooling has taken a toll on parents, particularly mothers, and primary school children who have been struggling due to stress, exhaustion and lack of motivation, shows a study by the March 8 Institute. The NGO has urged a strategy to address the repercussions of remote learning.

The study was conducted among more than 2,600 Slovenian households with primary school children, according to Jasna Mažgon, professor of educational sciences at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts.

Children lack motivation, whereas parents are tired and worried with mothers being most frequently overworked due to helping children with virtual learning, she summed up the results.

The survey goes into detail by indicating that almost a quarter of the participants do not have a quiet space where children could do their schoolwork. Almost half of the children share a computer or laptop with their parents or siblings.

Children spend from four to six hours online per day attending virtual classes. Almost half of the parents spend an additional one to two hours helping children with their school tasks and a third up to four hours, said Mark J. Užmah, who led the survey.

Moreover, remote schooling has been held against a backdrop of deepening social inequalities, warned Mojca Lukan of the NGO. Slightly above 40% of the participating households have seen their income decrease since the start of the Covid crisis.

Nika Kovač, the head of the NGO, warned that months-long distance learning had left its mark on parents and children's mental health as two thirds reported enhanced exhaustion and 58% said they were struggling. She also noted that there was no data on so-called lost students, children who had not been attending online classes.

The actual impact of remote education on children will be clear after all of them return to in-classroom learning, said Užmah. He agreed with Kovač that something should be done to tackle the situation since "long-term remote schooling is not as effective as the Education Ministry says it is".

The NGO believes that a clear national strategy should be prepared for future school reopenings.

Some of the current prevention measures in schools set down by the government could not be heeded, Užmah said, pointing to small classrooms and a shortage of teachers.

Mažgon said that the ministry should determine the extent of learning gaps in individual subjects that emerged or were widened during remote education and come up with measures to mitigate this as much as possible.

Contact tracing and issuing quarantine orders due to risky contacts should be resumed as soon as possible, Užmah noted, adding that if ordered to self-isolate due to a risky contact, parents should then get compensation for loss of income during that time.

11 Feb 2021, 17:35 PM

STA, 11 February 2021 - Movement will once again be allowed throughout the country from Monday, after the government decided to abolish municipal and regional restrictions which have been in place for months. However, night curfew will stay in place between 9pm and 6am, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs told the press after the government session on Thursday.

Hojs, addressing reporters on Thursday as the government lifted a series of coronavirus restrictions, said it would be possible to cross the border with Austria, Hungary and Italy via all border crossings rather than designated checkpoints from Saturday.

Slovenia is also adding a new list of high risk countries to the red Covid country list to comprise countries in the EU and Schengen area whose epidemiological status is poorer than Slovenia's. Hojs listed as those currently including Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

Arrivals from those countries will have to produce a negative coronavirus test, however from Saturday it will also be possible to cross the border with a positive PCR test dating at least 21 days but no more than six months back, or with a doctor's note proving the person has recovered from Covid-19 that should be no older than six months.

Also valid will be negative tests issued by labs in third countries approved by the National Institute of Public Health, while only doctor's notes from EU and Schengen countries will be valid.

Those immunised against the virus who produce proof they have received a second jab will also be allowed to cross without restrictions.

Slovenia imposed systematic internal Schengen border checks first on 11 March on its border with Italy, which saw a rapid spread in coronavirus. Later checks were imposed on all internal borders.

Health checks on the external Schengen border with Croatia had been introduced in late February 2020.

With the easing of the first wave of coronavirus, Slovenia was one of the first countries to scrap mandatory quarantine for arrivals from EU and Schengen area countries on 14 May.

The border regime started to be restricted again in early autumn, depending on the coronavirus status of the country arrivals came from. Those from red-listed countries faced mandatory quarantine or a negative test. From late October to early December almost all of Europe was on Slovenia's red list.

11 Feb 2021, 16:49 PM

STA, 11 February 2021 - The government has decided that all stores will be allowed to reopen in Slovenia on Monday, while consumers will no longer have to produce a negative coronavirus test, whereas now this is required for several services. However, skiing will be an exception to this, with skiers required to produce a negative test no older than 7 days.

All retail services will be allowed without restrictions from Monday, Economy Ministry state secretary Ajda Cuderman told the press after the government session in Thursday.

While consumers will no longer be required to show a negative test, those working in retail, beauty and massage services, as well as hairdressers, will still have to get tested regularly.

So will staff in manufacturing, maintenance and installation, real estate, training and animal grooming services, which are now reopening. Apart from car shops, services are limited to 400 square metres of surface area, said Cuderman. Staff training will be allowed for up to 10 people.

Retail and service staff required to get tested, will get priority treatment in testing, the government decided today. Moreover, testing will be paid for by the state.

The restriction of one customer per 30 square metres remains in place in closed spaces and one customer per 10 square metres in open air markets.

The government also decided to loosen restrictions currently in place for ski lift operators. From Monday, skiers will be able to buy fares with a negative test no older than 7 days, whereas until now the test had to be no older than 24 hours.

Ski lift staff in direct contact with clients will also need to have test no older than 7 days, Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec said.

Changes have also been made to the rules applying to taxi services and driving schools. Taxi drivers will have to be tested every three days, while driving school students will require a test no older than three days, whereas now it is limited to 24 hours. The rules remain unchanged for driving school instructors, who need a test no older than three days.

Moreover, the minister said changes are planned for public transport, as schools will once again reopen on Monday. "When schools open, public transport will run flawlessly."

Those who have recovered from Covid-19 will not have to get tested for six months and will be able to access services with a doctor's note. Negative tests will also not be required for those who have been vaccinated.

"This is important, considering that we have at least 200,000 people who recovered from Covid-19," said Vrtovec.

The Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS) welcomed the loosening of restrictions for services, above all the abolishment of tests for customers, noting that many beauty salons did not reopen while this requirement was in place.

However, the retail section of the OZS is less pleased and has sent a letter of protest to Prime Minister Janez Janša, objecting to regular testing imposed recently on staff in shops selling essentials, which have been open throughout the epidemic without the staff having to be tested.

Primary schools fully reopening on Monday

STA, 11 February 2021 - Primary schools throughout the country will fully reopen on Monday after almost four months of closure. Final year secondary school students will also return to school and exams will again take place at the university level along with seminars for up to 10 students, a government official said on Thursday.

Primary schools will reopen in the western half of the country for about 107,000 pupils, while 83,000 pupils from the eastern half of the country will start a one-week winter holiday, Education Ministry State Secretary Damir Orehovec told the press.

Some 6,000 teachers will thus also return to schools.

Strict safety measures will be adhered to at schools. Pupils will not be leaving their classrooms for different lessons to avoid contacts outside their class. Schools also are urged to organise school meals in a way to minimise contacts outside the bubbles.

No other activities will be organised at schools, and excursions and swimming and other additional lessons have been cancelled. However, individual music and art lessons will be allowed.

Some 11,000 high school students in the final year are also expected to return to their classrooms next week as are 655 students of vocational schools. Practical classes for secondary school students and adult education will be allowed again.

Exams will again take place at the university level along with seminars for up to 10 students. The same exceptions will apply for student dormitories.

Universities have already welcomed the changes. Ljubljana university chancellor Igor Papič sees this as an important step forward, which however is not essential, as the exam period ends this week and the summer semester begins next week. Still, the changes are welcome as universities will have to make up for the last three months, he told the STA.

Maribor university chancellor and the head of the Chancellors' Conference Zdravko Kačič said the possibility of assembly of up to ten people would enable them to organise courses to make up for any backlogs and conduct exams with up to 10 students.

There will be no changes for kindergartens and the first three grades of primary school, which are already open. According to Orehovec, kindergartens had 74% of the children there this week and the first three grades 90%.

As of Monday, non-contact sports will be allowed again for up to 10 people if the two-metre distance can be maintained at all times. Exercising will no longer be limited to families or individuals.

Schools and universities were first closed on 16 March last year when the Marjan Šarec government declared an epidemic. Pupils returned to school after two months of remote learning. On 18 May, the first three grades returned to school along with the final year secondary school students.

A week later the final year primary school pupils returned to their classroom, and than gradually all other grades. Secondary school students remained at home until the end of the school year.

The new school year started on 1 September as usually but schools were forced to switch to remote teaching soon. On 19 October, pupils from up to 6th grade could no longer go to school, and after the autumn break all other pupils staid home as well.

As the epidemiological situation in the country finally improved somewhat, the first three grades of primary school reopened in the regions faring the best on 26 January and also in other regions this Tuesday.

Slovenia scrapping Schengen checkpoints

STA, 11 February 2021 - Slovenia is scrapping checkpoints on internal Schengen borders starting from Saturday and those who have recovered from Covid-19 or have been vaccinated against it will be able to enter the country without having to quarantine or provide a negative coronavirus test, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs has announced.

Hojs, addressing reporters on Thursday as the government lifted a series of coronavirus restrictions, said it would be possible to cross the border with Austria, Hungary and Italy via all border crossings rather than just designated checkpoints from Saturday.

10 Feb 2021, 17:01 PM

STA, 10 February 2021 - Slovenia currently has 2% of its population vaccinated against coronavirus and if the supply of vaccines continues at current pace, 5% of the population could be vaccinated by the end of the month, said Marta Grgič Vitek, the coordinator of the vaccination programme at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

The vaccination of people older than 80 continues throughout the country today, including in Ljubljana and Ajdovščina. In some towns, like Kranj and Nova Gorica, new batches of the vaccine have not arrived yet and are expected on Thursday.

In Ljubljana, where vaccination is being carried out in the morning and rapid testing in the afternoon at the main fairgrounds, 4,000 shots by three different producers are available this week, Uroš Zafošnik, the local coordinator, said yesterday.

Until 7 February, almost 55,000 people received the first shot of vaccine, which is 2.6% of the population, and almost 43,000 the second, which is 2% of the citizens.

So far, a total of 108,000 vaccine doses have been distributed and another 136,100 doses are to be supplied this month.

Apart from the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the AstraZeneca vaccine is also being distributed today.

Currently, the recommendation is that mRNK vaccines, meaning the former two vaccines, are used for those older than 80, while others can also receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. The latter is recommended for inoculation of bedridden persons at their homes, as unlike the mRNK vaccines it is more stable and thus easier to transport.

When all those over 80 who have expressed interest in the vaccination will be inoculated, those over 75 years old will follow and then those over 70 and the particularly vulnerable patients with chronic diseases regardless of their age.

According to Grgič Vitek, the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca is recommended for people aged between 18 and 64, as there is not enough data on its efficiency in older people.

The second shot is to be administered after nine to 12 weeks, which is longer than with mRNK vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is to be used for health workers who have not been inoculated yet, for institutionalised persons who have not been vaccinated yet, for special schools staff and children, and for particularly vulnerable chronic patients under 65.

These will be followed by other chronic patients and then those working in key infrastructure.

Grgič Vitek could not say when healthy adults could expect to get vaccinated. "We don't know what the demand and supply will be," she said.

She expects those over 80 to be vaccinated by the end of the month, while vulnerable chronic patients could be inoculated in April.

The priority groups among employees in key infrastructure will be adjusted to the type and quantity of the vaccines supplied. "We believe teachers and employees in education should be a priority, while we will ask the government and other bodies to decide who else they consider to be the most important for the functioning of the country," said the NIJZ official.

Meanwhile, it is not clear yet whether the vaccines also prevent transmission of infection. "An expert recommendation is that once a person is inoculated, meaning a week after the second shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, two weeks after the second shot of the Moderna vaccine and three weeks after the first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine, no testing is required for the next three months."

For now, this applies only to medical staff but the rules should also be set for others, Grgič Vitek said.

Until the end of this week, more than a thousand cases of side effects following vaccination have been entered into the NIJZ registry. Most, 1,064 cases referred to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine of which some 96,000 shots have been administered.

Five cases referred to the Moderna vaccine of which just over 8,000 shots have been distributed.

In most cases, mild side effects are being reported such as pain in the vaccination spot, headaches and dizziness.

Seven cases of serious side effects have been recorded since the end of January. "They were two deaths and five such side effects that required hospital treatment," Grgič Vitek said, adding the share of serious side effects was lower than with other vaccines.

Meanwhile, the head of the National Institute of Biology, Maja Ravnikar, presented the institute's research of the virus's presence in excrement. The institute has been testing samples from several sewage treatment plants across the country covering 600,000 people for months as part of a pilot project.

The results so far show that the amount of the new coronavirus in waste waters matches the number of active cases detected in tests. The last increase in the amount of virus was detected in January and now it has been decreasing for a while, Ravnikar told the press today.

"By analysing waste waters we are monitoring the entire population, meaning also those who have not been tested. This process is very fast, so sometimes we detect a rise in a number of infected people a few days ahead," she said.

The mutations of the virus can also be detected. Until mid-January the presence of South African or Brazilian strains have not been detected. Some samples have been association with the British variant but in very small quantities.

The latest data on coronavirus and Slovenia

10 Feb 2021, 11:56 AM

Dr Noah Charney, an American best-selling author and Pulitzer finalist, has been described as “Slovenia’s biggest cheerleader in foreign media.” He writes about Slovenia regularly for major publications, as the Slovenia Travel correspondent for The Guardian, for the Washington Post, National Geographic and many more venues. He’s also author of more than a dozen books, including the internationally best-selling novel, The Art Thief, and the Slovenian best-seller, Slovenology: Living and Traveling in the World’s Best Country. But he also has a sideline in helping authors, primarily Slovenes, find anglophone publishers abroad.

For many years he’s taught a short course at University of Ljubljana called Writing for Publication, in which he teaches what is rarely taught even in creative writing programs: the mechanics of how to become a paid writer. Do you need an agent? How do you pitch to a newspaper editor? How do you negotiate a publishing contract? How do you write a book proposal and find a publisher for a non-fiction book? There are numerous tricks of the trade and his past students have become published authors and regular contributors to international magazines and newspapers. For the past two years, he’s even taught a private course run by University of Ljubljana exclusively for his fellow professors, teaching them how to write in a more engaging way, to help them get prestigious ERC grants (the most advanced EU grant available for research, worth 1.5-2.5 million Euros each). He has also worked as an informal “agent,” helping dozens of Slovene writers to find literary agents or publishers abroad. He’s worked with everyone from Joze Pirjevec to Miha Mazzini, from Ales Steger to Goran Vojnovic, from Vlado Kreslin to Luka Novak to Bostjan Videmsek and many others—more than twenty, by his count.

Now, due to the pandemic, he’s offering a pair of writing workshops via Zoom. “The key is that anyone, Slovenes especially, can get published in English and even earn money writing, from wherever they are,” he said. “My past students have published books and numerous articles for major venues, all in English and all from Slovenia. There are all sorts of tricks of the trade that I wish someone had taught me, that I’m happy to pass on to students.” His course includes a 70-page document that he gives to all students, full of tips and sample book and article proposals—even sample cover letters to agents and editors, which students can adapt and use. “My goal is to make life easier for my students,” he said.

There are two workshops on offer now, but one of them you’ll need to register for quickly, by February 11 at the latest. It’s WRITING FOR PUBLICATION and will be held via Zoom this Friday, February 12 from 17:30-20:30. The other sessions are February 16 and 19, the same times. “That’s the workshop in which I teach all the logistics of how to get published,” he said. This one is run by University of Ljubljana’s Filozofska Fakulteta and you can register here.

The second will run during the same time slots on March 12, 17 and 19 and will be co-taught by Slovenia’s best-selling author abroad, Miha Mazzini. Miha and Noah will teach this second workshop on writing itself: character development, plot, pace and the mechanics of writing, touching on fiction, non-fiction and popular articles. Both workshops will be held in English, but with the option to switch to Slovene anytime.

“The best combination is to take both, as the two workshops compliment each other ideally with no overlap,” Noah said. The second workshop will likewise be via Zoom and those interested should contact Noah or Mazzini directly, via their websites or social media, if they are interested.

“I’m always happy to help anyone get published,” Noah said. “It is a great feeling, it can bring in extra money and it offers added value, because you can then promote others through your writing. It’s the ideal addition during lockdown, because you can write and get published from anywhere, anytime.

To learn more, you can contact Noah via Facebook or through his website, www.noahcharney.com.

09 Feb 2021, 15:01 PM

STA, 9 February 2021 - Slovenia reported 357 coronavirus infections on Monday from a total of 11,253 tests in what continues to be a week-on-week decline. Slovenia has met both thresholds for entering the orange tier of restrictions, an improvement that may also be a result of scaled-down testing over the long weekend. 19 Covid patients died, show fresh official data.

Of the 1,493 PCR tests conducted yesterday 204 infections were confirmed for a positivity rate of 13.7%, down from 15% the day before. An additional 9,760 rapid antigen tests were performed with 153 returning positive for a positivity rate of 1.6%.

On Monday, Culture Day, the total of PRC and rapid tests was above the number of tests usually conducted on bank holidays due to mass testing among teachers and shop assistants, however the figure was still below weekday total.

A total of 945 patients with Covid-19 were treated in hospitals yesterday, one fewer than the day before, after 41 were discharged. 162 patients were in intensive care, two more than on Sunday.

The country has reached the orange tier of restrictions with both the number of hospitalisations and the 7-day daily average of new cases below 1,000.

The latter figure stood at 842 yesterday, the government announced on Twitter. The 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents was 683, show data by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

The orange phase envisages reopening of schools for the remaining primary school pupils and final years of secondary school as well as resumption of exams and seminars at the university level with up to ten people allowed.

Moreover, assembly of up to ten persons would be permitted and a ban on inter-municipal travel lifted.

The government will decide on the further course of restrictions on Wednesday when it is expected to review the epidemiological situation.

Health Ministry State Secretary Marija Magajne told today's press briefing that it would be sensible to soon introduce PCR confirmatory testing for positive test results produced by rapid tests, as the epidemic seems to be waning. Experts and ministry officials will soon meet to set down relevant protocols, she added.

Asked about a new call for applications for rapid tests, Magajne said it was in the works and would be published in a week. The procedure seems to be at a standstill though since she merely repeated the statement she made more than a week ago.

The supplies provided by the first call are dwindling in the meantime. Less than 20% of the tests supplied were still available last week. Magajne said there were no test shortages though as testing providers could also procure them themselves.

The state secretary said that before making a final decision on the second public call, the ministry was waiting for additional tests that are to be supplied as part of a joint EU order as well as for expert decisions on the testing strategy in the future.

Regarding the EU procurement procedure for rapid tests, she said the price was not yet made public and could not be disclosed hence, however she was able to say that 5% of the delivery would be free of charge for Slovenia.

So far 174,364 infections have been reported in Slovenia since the start of the epidemic, according to the NIJZ, which estimates 14,399 of them active. The death toll is currently at 3,654, showdata by the national tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org.

09 Feb 2021, 11:05 AM

STA, 9 February 2021 - Additional stores are expected to reopen on Tuesday following the government's recent decision to allow in-person shopping in all stores under 400 square metres. Although the decree took effect on Saturday, most stores have postponed the reopening until today since they had trouble providing the required testing for their staff.

Only between 10% and 15% of stores that could reopen on Saturday were actually able to do that, according to the Chamber of Commerce (TZS).

The government gave the green light for an extensive reopening on Friday, permitting stores and repair shops under 400 square metres to again welcome their customers in person.

The establishments were allowed to reopen on Saturday under the condition of producing negative tests of their staff. Many could not provide testing earlier though and are expected to reopen today following mass testing among staff over the past long weekend, TZS president Mariča Lah told the STA.

After experiencing issues with the organisation of the testing, businesses were helped out by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

The institute told the TZS that retailers could organise the testing drives at community health centres or private testing providers that are either concession holders or not, also providing a list of available private facilities.

Business representatives were told last week by Prime Minister Janez Janša and Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek that the cost of staff testing will be covered by the state.

For some services, most notably beauticians, real estate agencies, tutoring and pet salons, both staff and customers must produce a negative test to conduct business.

Mass testing is expected to continue in coming days as staff testing will be obligatory from 12 February for shops and services that had been already open, such as grocery shops and food markets.

All pupils through third form to return to school

STA, 9 February 2021 - Pupils in the first three grades of primary school throughout the country will return to in-classroom instruction on Tuesday in line with last week's government decree. All kindergartens are to reopen.

On Thursday, the government decided to suspend a region-based approach to imposing or lifting coronavirus restrictions, deeming the entire country to be in tier red.

The second strictest phase envisages pupils through the third form returning to school. Moreover, kindergartens that have been closed so far are allowed to reopen today and those that have been providing day care only to parents in essential professions may now go back to full capacity.

Both parents and teachers have welcomed the move, expressing hope that the remaining students may soon follow suit.

Weekly mass testing among teachers teaching in person is still obligatory, with all of them required to have their swab taken at the start of the school week except for those who have already recovered from Covid-19.

A number of schools organised testing already yesterday, whereas the majority will test their staff today.

Rapid testing of teachers in Ajdovščina (W) has detected a high positivity rate (above 15%) among teachers of a local primary school, however subsequent PCR tests came back negative, deeming all the rapid test results fake positives.

The PCR confirmatory testing was used in the Ajdovščina municipality yesterday to confirm or dismiss 20 positive results produced by rapid tests and all of them turned out to be fake positive. Egon Stopar, the director of the Ajdovščina health centre, thinks that the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) should re-assess the quality of the rapid tests.

Slovenia could soon reach tier orange, which envisages in-classroom instruction for the remaining primary school pupils and final years of secondary school as well as resumption of exams and seminars at the university level with up to ten people allowed.

A part of secondary school students intends to boycott remote classes today out of protest against remote schooling. Parents of primary school pupils from the Maribor area have urged a 10-minute suspension of today's classes to voice support for the secondary school students.

08 Feb 2021, 10:34 AM

STA, 7 February 2021 - Culture Day, which celebrates art and culture on 8 February by remembering the acclaimed Slovenian poet France Prešeren, will try to inspire hope despite being largely observed remotely. Writer Feri Lainšček and architect Marko Mušič will receive the Prešeren Prizes, the top national lifetime achievement accolade.

As usual, this year's national ceremony will be held on the eve of the public holiday, yet it has been pre-recorded and will be broadcast on TV in the evening.

Its main motto is Summons Hope!, said Jožef Muhovič, who heads the board of the Prešeren Fund, which gives out the Prešeren Prizes and produces the ceremony.

It is to highlight that human creativity, culture and art are what we can lean on at a time of ordeals and what we can be proud of on the 30th anniversary of statehood, he explained in a statement for the STA.

"Summons Hope" comes from Prešeren's Zdavljica (Toast), a poem from the mid-19th century whose seventh stanza has become the lyrics of Slovenia's national anthem.

Apart from Lainšček and Mušič, the recipients of six Prešeren Fund Prizes for achievements over the past three years are poet Brane Senegačnik, violinist Lana Trotovšek, theatre director Tomi Janežič, film director Matjaž Ivanišin, painter Sandi (Aleksander) Červek, and architects Blaž Budja, Rok Jereb and Nina Majoranc.

Culture Day, a bank holiday, is usually packed with cultural events and it will be no different this year, it is just that the majority of the events will be online.

Prešeren's poems traditionally recited in front of the monument to the poet in the centre of Ljubljana will be broadcast live on national public radio.

Thirty actors and actresses will interpret them in Radio Slovenija's studios accompanied by live music. What is more, the poems will resound, with the help of sound systems, in the streets of Ljubljana, Koper, Celje, Maribor and Nova Gorica.

Many museums, galleries, libraries and theatres will make available online various events and productions, with the Kranj Theatre, which bears Prešeren's name, broadcasting a talk with this year's Prešeren Prize laureates.

Cankarjev Dom, the country's largest cultural house, will offer most of its recorded productions made since the first lockdown last spring, including concerts.

The Slovenian Cinematheque will honour director Matjaž Ivanišin with the online screening of his short films and a talk with him.

Feri Lainšček, who comes from the Prekmurje region, will be honoured with a performance of literature and music at the regional Murska Sobota Library.

Folk-rock singer-songwriter Vlado Kreslin, who was also born in Prekmurje, will give an online concert from a venue in Ljubljana which will be revealed on the day of the concert.

06 Feb 2021, 10:14 AM

STA, 5 February 2021 - More than a month after Slovenia launched vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, prioritising the elderly, the number of hospitalisations has decreased. Elderly care homes report that those who were infected between jabs only suffered mild or no symptoms.

Slovenia started vaccinating the elderly in care homes first, as care homes recorded frequent outbreaks and suffered the most fatalities.

By today, nearly 9,500 elderly care home residents received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. A total of nearly 20,000 institutional care users have received at least one jab by now, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities has told the STA.

Immunity develops in a specific period after the second dose, seven days after the second jab for the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine and a fortnight for the Moderna vaccine, which have been the two most widely used vaccines in Slovenia.

The country has also recently received the first batch of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, which is, however, recommended for a younger population. Elderly care home residents are on average older than 80.

Many homes reported high shares of residents getting infected between jabs. However, these infections were much less severe, with most patients showing only mild symptoms or none at all. Most importantly, none of those who were infected showed severe symptoms.

Apart from the elderly, nursing home and hospital staff are also being vaccinated in Slovenia at the moment. UKC Ljubljana, the country's biggest hospital, has reported that staff had gotten infected between doses, all suffering mild symptoms or none at all.

The latest data on COVID and Slovenia

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