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18 Nov 2020, 14:39 PM

STA, 18 November 2020 - Slovenia recorded 2,013 new coronavirus cases from 6,813 tests on Tuesday, for a positivity rate of 29.5%. A total of 43 persons with Covid-19 died, show official government data.

There are currently 1,280 coronavirus patients in hospital, up five from the day before, of which 209 require intensive care, one more than yesterday.

Slovenia has recorded 58,950 positive cases since the start of the epidemic, while the death toll has now risen to 919, according to data tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik.

The last time there were more than 2,000 daily cases was on 10 November. The daily number of deaths is the second highest since the start of the epidemic after a record 45 cases yesterday.

Jelko Kacin, the government's Covid-19 spokesman, noted that nursing homes were once again becoming major hotspots: one in five of the infections confirmed yesterday were among nursing home residents or staff.

He said there were now over 2,100 infections among the roughly 19,000 residents after 312 tested positive yesterday, and 845 infections among the roughly 12,300 members of the staff, up 59 in a day.

Kacin also stressed that hospitals remain at the limit of their capacity. "The virus exists, it is spreading quickly and it's time we all behave as if we're infected," he said.

All our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia

17 Nov 2020, 20:20 PM

STA, 17 November 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša indicated in an interview Tuesday that some of the restrictive measures may remain in place until Christmas, but he was hopeful they will not have to be as strict.

"It is already certain that notwithstanding the speed of production of vaccines, immunisation will not make enough of a difference by the end of the year to allow us to relax all measures.

"Some of the measures will definitely be in place then. We hope they will not be as strict," he said in an interview for Planet TV when asked what kind of Christmas celebration people may expect.

The statement comes a day after Slovenia tightened existing measures, including by closing all non-essential stores and suspending public transportation. The government also decided to extend the formal declaration of the epidemic by a month, until mid-December.

Janša made a renewed appeal to all Slovenians to heed restrictions which he said saved lives. "You cannot stop the virus with a law or a measure, we can only stop it with reason and solidarity."

He was hopeful that with the latest number of fatalities, the people will "sober up", while noting that there is no European country in which the second wave of the epidemic would be milder than the first.

Health Minister Tomaž Gantar said today that the measures will not necessarily depend on there being a formal epidemic declared. He thinks that some measures might be cautiously relaxed in two weeks allowing certain services to reopen.

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17 Nov 2020, 13:14 PM

STA, 17 November 2020 - A record number of Covid-19 patients died in Slovenia on Monday, 45, bringing the death toll to 876. A total of 1,388 new infections were confirmed from 5,326 tests and 1,275 people needed hospitalisation, up 11 from the day before. 208 patients needed intensive care, up one from the day before, the government said on Twitter.

The share of positive tests on Monday dropped to 26% after standing at 28% on Sunday. On Monday, 92 Covid-19 patients were discharged from hospital, while 24 patients in hospitals died.

The number of new hospitalisations remains much higher than the number of discharged patients, which is what "we are worried about", government spokesperson Jelko Kacin told the press today.

Slovenia had 19,537 active cases yesterday, up from 19,325 on Sunday, according to the tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org. So far, 56,932 infections have been confirmed in Slovenia.

The rolling 14-day average of cases per 100,000 residents rose from 922 to 932.

According to Nuška Čakš Jager from the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ), the epidemiological situation in Europe and the world is still serious but some European countries are seeing a downturn in the number of new cases.

On the other hand, some countries, for example Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Sweden, the UK, and Slovenia are seeing a surge in new cases.

Only the Czech Republic, Belgium and Hungary have higher 14-day average of deaths per 100,000 people than Slovenia. In terms of new infections per 100,000 people, Slovenia is preceded by the Czech Republic, Austria, Luxembourg and Lichtenstein.

In Slovenia, Pomurska and Gorenjska remain the regions with the highest 14-day incidence, Čakš Jager said.

The deputy head of the infectious diseases centre at the NIJZ said the number of new daily infections would have to drop well below 300 for the epidemiologists to be able to trace the sources of infections again.

"We manage to call and question some 1,200 people a day," she said, adding that identifying close contacts of those infected or even calling everyone infected was not possible despite help from students and staff from local NIJZ units.

Čakš Jager also presented data for infections in schools and kindergartens showing that the number of infections started dropping from the eighth week of the school year. She said the most infections had been recorded among high school students, while the share of infected kindergarten children was low.

All our stories on Slovenia and coronavirus

17 Nov 2020, 13:09 PM

STA, 17 November 2020 - Log pod Mangartom, an alpine community in the north-west of the country, was hit by a devastating landslide that claimed seven lives twenty years ago, to the day. The village has been rebuilt but the locals say it will never be the same again.

It was during the night between 16 and 17 November 2000, following a prolonged spell of heavy rain, that a huge landslide and a debris flow swept away the upper part of the village in a matter of moments.

The entire upper section of the village had to be rebuilt; twelve new houses have been built anew but on safer locations with the help of the funding provided by the state.

"The state responded like never before. The locals are happy with what they got and how the village was rebuilt," Igor Černuta, the head of the 133-strong local community, has told the STA.

The villagers do not feel threatened by potential new landslides but they are aware of the risk. "The question is whether such an event could ever be repeated at all," Černuta says.

"In all those 20 years since the landslide, the alarm system hasn't gone on a single time. There was an unfortunate sequence of events at the time; the prolonged rains and the wet terrain unleashed a flow of debris and caused a tragedy," Černuta remembers.

Log pod Mangartom, a village in the Bovec municipality, not far from the Italian border, does not look the same today as it did before the landslide. Bovec Mayor Valter Mlekuž says much has changed for the better, hopefully in a way such a tragedy can never happen again.

Data from the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning show EUR 26.4 million in state budget funds has been spent on repairing the damage after the landslide with EUR 5 million more needed to complete the work set out by the zoning plan.

The amount of rainfall in the area in October and November 2000 had not been seen in a century. Two days ahead of the disaster, a smaller landslide destroyed more than 100 metres of the road leading to the Predel mountain pass.

Based on the telling signs, the civil rescue headquarters in Bovec recommended the population at risk to leave their homes, but some of them refused to do so.

Just after midnight on that fateful night, the mass of mud and debris above the village was such that it came thundering down the bed of the Predelca stream with a devastating flow of debris.

The locals remember the disaster every year with mass, but this year the service has been postponed because of the Covid-19 situation.

17 Nov 2020, 12:09 PM

STA, 13 November 2020 - Farmers reported fewer attacks on livestock by wolves and bears this year compared with 2019, with wolves causing more damage than bears. The agriculture chamber says this is a result of wolves not being regularly culled for several years now, whereas emergency hunting is not effective enough.

Bears meanwhile seem to be happy with this year's abundant food in forests, which has partly reduced conflicts with humans and their property, the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry (KGZS) has told the STA.

Nevertheless, the management of large wild animals remains very difficult, since it takes rather long to get a decision on emergency wolf and bear cull if the safety of people is not at stake, the chamber explains.

It continues to urge regular, quota-based hunting as a means of big wild animals management, adding that farmers and rural areas will pay the highest price as the country is struggling to set up a system acceptable to all.

As many as 87 fewer damage cases involving bears and 40 fewer involving wolves were reported in the January-September period compared with the same nine months in 2019.

A total of 228 cases of bear-caused damage valued at EUR 75,000 were reported this year as opposed to 315 and EUR 108,00, respectively, in the same period in 2019.

Data from the Slovenia Forest Service for wolves shows a drop from 299 to 259 cases, with the damage reported down from EUR 207,000 to EUR 126,000.

The wolves and bears most frequently attacked livestock in the heavily forested area around Kočevje in the south, and in Primorska, west, and Notranjska, south-west.

The Environment Agency, which processes the damage claims, received 447 such claims by the end of October, of which 237 were related to wolves and 210 to brown bears.

As many as 157 claims were endorsed and EUR 87,000 in damages paid out, while slightly more than 260 claims amounting to almost EUR 90,000 are still being processed.

With both wolf and brown bear being protected endangered species, several attempts to regulate their growing populations have failed due to opposition by environmentalists.

Nevertheless, wolves and bears continue to be "removed from nature", including on the basis of decisions issued by the Environment Agency.

Twelve wolves were removed this year, up five from the same period last year. This compares to a total of 20 wolves culled last year.

The figures for bears for the nine months is 99, compared with 153 in the same period last year and a total of 183 bears culled in entire 2019.

This year the government plans to start changing the 2009 strategy on the preservation and sustainable management of wolves as part of the Life WolfAlps EU project.

A strategy on bear management was meanwhile subject to public consultation this year and is expected to be adopted next year, the Environment Ministry has told the STA.

Jackal is another wild animal causing damage to farmers, mostly in SW, with 88 damage cases being reported for the nine months, up 11 from the same period in 2019.

While 197 jackals are planned to be removed from nature this year, 145 have been removed between 1 July, when the hunting season opened, and 10 November.

14 Nov 2020, 15:06 PM

STA, 14 November 2020 - A total of 1,731 out of 6,675 coronavirus tests came back positive in Slovenia on Friday, the government said on Saturday. The number of hospitalised patients rose by 25 to 1,224, with 206 patients needing intensive care, up six from the day before. Forty-one patients died, which is three more than on Thursday.

On Friday, 95 persons were discharged from hospital, which is 16 more than on Thursday.

So far, 54,109 coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Slovenia, and a total of 765 patients have died.

All our stories on Slovenia and covid

13 Nov 2020, 14:02 PM

STA, 13 November 2020 - A total of 38 Covid-19 patients died in Slovenia on Thursday. 1,508 new coronavirus infections were confirmed in 5,762 tests, a drop from 1,925 the day before when more tests were performed, show fresh official data. The number of hospitalisations dropped slightly.

There are currently 1,199 patients in hospital compared to 1,210 on Wednesday, of whom 200 are in intensive care, the same as the day before. A total of 79 were discharged home on Thursday, the government announced on Twitter.

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The national death toll currently stands at 724, according to the tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik.

The rolling 14-day average of infections per 100,000 residents has fallen to 948. The share of positive tests was 26.2%.

Slovenia has so far confirmed 52,378 cases, of which just under 20,000 are currently active.

The R value remains below 1, meaning "that ten newly infected persons pass on the virus to merely nine other persons", government spokesman Jelko Kacin told today's daily briefing, adding that changes in the testing protocol had not affected the R value and its decline.

He pointed out that the positivity rate was more than 2 percentage points lower than the day before.

The rolling 14-day average per 100,000 residents in the Pomurska region in the north-east remains cause for concern, with the figure standing at 1,493. The situation in the northern Gorenjska region has slightly improved, with the average falling below 1,400 from almost 2,000.

The only other region that has the figure above 1,000 is Koroška. The situation is best in the coastal Obalno-Kraška region (387).

Kacin also pointed out that significantly lower daily case counts were expected on Sunday and Monday, saying that the spread of coronavirus had been slowing down.

When it comes to hospitalisations, the situation is still alarming and shows a delay in new cases translating into hospital admissions, noted Kacin, also warning that the virus had been spreading in care homes.

He highlighted there was enough beds, but a shortage of staff trained to treat Covid-19 patients remained a problem.

Moreover, the number of patients with life-threatening Covid-19 at UKC Ljubljana is growing, he said.

The spokesman urged citizens to heed prevention protocols especially in the light of coming Saint Martin's day celebrations, which he said should be restricted to family members.

Matjaž Jereb, the head of the intensive care unit at UKC Ljubljana's infectious diseases department, said that the situation in hospitals was indeed critical and it was not the time to loosen restrictions.

Jereb, who is also the national ICU beds coordinator, pointed out that Slovenia had boosted the number of hospital beds, including ICU beds.

"In the past week, the past fortnight, we've been close to maximum capacity," he said, highlighting that Slovenia could provide up to 250 ICU beds and that it had been running low on hospital staff, many of whom, particularly nurses, have been infected with the virus.

In UKC Ljubljana, Slovenia's central hospital, there are currently more than 260 staff members quarantining. Most got infected outside work, according to Jereb.

Projections show that the number of active infections ranges from 17,000 to more than 80,000, he said.

The Covid-19 mortality rate is slightly below 15% in Ljubljana intensive care units, which compares to some 30% in the first epidemic wave, Jereb said, warning that the second wave had not been letting up in regard to hospitalisation figures.

The mortality rate is ten times the mortality rate associated with flu and same goes for the number of ICU patients, he said.

13 Nov 2020, 13:16 PM

STA, 13 November 2020 - New restrictions concerning public gatherings and border crossing enter into force on Friday as part of efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus. The red list of countries has been expanded as well.

All gatherings are banned as of today, unless people who gather are family or members of the same house hold. Until yesterday gatherings were capped to six persons.

While all events are banned, couples will now be able to wed with a special permission from the Ministry of Labour, the Family and Social Affairs. They will not be allowed to have a reception, though.

A new government decree, which takes effect on Monday, narrows exemptions from mandatory quarantine for people crossing the border into Slovenia,

Most importantly for Slovenians, a special exemption that allowed owners of property in neighbouring countries to visit for 48 hours without needing to quarantine has been scrapped.

Several exemptions have been narrowed, for example, 72-hour visits to relatives across the border. This exemption will now apply only to visits to EU and Schengen zone countries.

Cross-border migrant workers will have a 14-hour window to return to Slovenia after going to work in a neighbouring country.

Some types of emergency business and personal visits were exempt from mandatory quarantine for stays of up to 48 hours. This time window has now been narrowed to 12 hours and only emergency business visits are allowed.

Persons who arrive from a red-listed country will still be able to end quarantine prematurely if they get tested, but from today they will need to quarantine for at least five days.

They can still avoid quarantining if they produce a negative test on arrival that was not done more than 48 hours ago.

The vast majority of the world's countries are on Slovenia's red list of countries, and there are some changes concerning European countries.

The entire Italy, Ireland, Liechtenstein and Poland are now on the red list, along with the majority of Denmark (with the exception of Faeroe Islands and Greenland), Lithuania (except Utena), Sweden (except Västernorrland), individual regions of Greece and one Estonian region, Ida-Viru.

Spain remains on the red list but the Canary Islands have been moved to orange.

All our stories on Slovenia and coronavirus. The latest statistics on coronavirus and Slovenia, and the latest police news on red, green and yellow list countries. All our stories on coronavirus and SloveniaCan I transit Slovenia? Find out from the police...

12 Nov 2020, 19:42 PM

STA, 12 November 2020 - Slovenia will tighten its lockdown for two weeks in a bid to reduce the number of daily new coronavirus cases. Public transport will shut down and all non-essential stores will close. Schools and kindergartens will remain shut down. All gatherings except of persons in the same household will be completely banned.

Some of the measures will take effect on Friday, while others will be put in place on Saturday or Monday, government officials told the press on Thursday.

The narrowing of exemptions for crossing the border without quarantining will take effect on Monday, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said.

Most notably, those with property in Croatia will no longer be able to spend 48 hours in Croatia and return without quarantining.

Another exemption that will be narrowed is visits up to 72 hours of relatives. This will be restricted to EU and Schengen Zone countries only. "In short, this means no more weekends in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Serbia," Hojs said.

The blanket ban on gatherings, taking effect on Friday, means that persons who are not relatives or from the same households will not be allowed to socialise at all. At present, gatherings of more than six persons are prohibited.

Public transportation will be shut down on Monday, according to Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec.

Health Minister Tomaž Gantar said the existing measures had been partially successful as the growth in new coronavirus cases went from exponential to linear, but they were not enough the reduce the baseline number of new cases.

"I firmly believe that without [new measures] we cannot speak about a return to normal life," Gantar said.

The new measures return Slovenia to roughly the spring level of lockdown, when all but essential stores were closed, public transportation was suspended and students were doing remote schooling.

Most stores have already been closed for three weeks and all schools are currently in remote mode, but limited non-essential retail, for example at jewellery stores, is still possible.

All our stories on Slovenia and Covid-19

12 Nov 2020, 15:48 PM

STA – 12 November, 2020 - A total of 1,925 new coronavirus infections were confirmed in 6,767 tests in Slovenia on Wednesday, which means a positivity rate of 28.45%, down one percentage point from yesterday, government data show. A record 41 Covid-19 patients died.

Government spokesperson Jelko Kacin told the press again that the situation was calming down. Fewer tests were conducted yesterday and 274 fewer infections confirmed than the day before.

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He repeated the latest figures were similar to those from the peak of the second wave and that yesterday's and today's figures were the result of a new system of testing.

The reproduction number continues to drop and stands at 0.91, which means that one infected person infects less than one person, Kacin said.

Looking at the situation in Slovenia's dozen regions over the past two weeks, Kacin said a rise in new infections had been recorded only in the Podravska and Goriška regions, while in Gorenjska the number was dropping very fast. A slight drop can also be seen in the Pomurska region.

In the past week, Goriška, Zasavska and Pomurska saw a rise in new infections.

In Ljubljana, 221 new infections were detected yesterday, which Kacin said was a relatively low number. In the second largest city, Maribor, 81 tests came back positive.

A total of 1,210 Covid-19 patients are in hospital, which is 18 more than the day before. The number of patients in intensive care rose by two to 200, while 93 were discharged home.

A total of 31 patients died in hospitals, and ten in care homes, Kacin said.

Hospitalisations have been rising since the start of the month but in the last third of this week, the situation has been stabilising, Kacin said.

According to the tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org, there are currently 20,151 active cases in the country, down 2.7% from the day before. The average 14-day incidence is now 961 per 100,000 people.

So far, 50,864 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the country, while the death toll is at 686.

A new outbreak has been reported from the northern Primorska region with 22 of the 270 employees infected at the German-owned Bovec company Mahle Electric Drives.

The company management took measures on the spot including banning socialising during breaks and locking up coffee machines. All employees will be tested, expectedly on Friday.

Several care homes in the region are also battling with infections, as are similar facilities across the country.

All our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia

11 Nov 2020, 14:25 PM

STA, 11 November 2020 - Slovenia recorded 2,217 new coronavirus cases for Tuesday, more than double the figure the day before, and a record 40 fatalities as Health Minister Tomaž Gantar reiterated his call for tighter restrictions.

The latest statistics were first revealed by Gantar on Twitter, wondering if anyone still doubted that stricter measures were not urgent. "This is about people's health," he said ahead of Thursday's government session where restrictions are to be reviewed.

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A near record 7,515 tests were performed yesterday, which puts the positivity rate at 29.5% after 24% reported for Monday. This was after a new recommendation was issued by the Health Ministry to test everyone suspected of having caught the virus again.

Gantar, who has been calling in recent days for a return to the type of lockdown seen in the spring, said the number of infections was falling too slowly, with one in 22 people infected. The demand for beds is growing, healthcare staff are exhausted, he wrote in his Twitter correspondences.

Data released by the government show a total of 1,192 patients were hospitalised with Covid-19 yesterday, including 202 in intensive care, which is 21 and six more the day before, respectively. Ninety-six patients were discharged home.

Commenting at the daily press briefing, government spokesman Jelko Kacin argued that the trends continued to improve and that despite higher absolute numbers nothing had really changed from Monday while the spike in infections was due to a change in testing strategy.

He said the reproduction number kept improving, offering graphs showing there had been no change in hospital admissions in the past two days and that the daily increase in admissions, discounting discharges and fatalities, was lower than days ago.

He did say though that the situation was worsening in the north east of the country, with the average 14-day incidence in Pomurje already exceeding 1,500 per 100,000 residents. Patients from there were moved to hospitals in other parts of the country.

However, Gantar argued earlier that until there were more admissions to hospitals than releases, it made sense to tighten restrictions for a short period.

The monitoring of the implementation of existing measures is being conducted, but he believes this is not enough given the gravity of the situation. "Better a short tightening that also enables a faster transition to normality."

The minister believes that all non-vital activities should be limited for a two-week period, including public transport. None of the existing restrictions should be softened, which also entails remote education for two more weeks.

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek has in turn argued that this is a health as well as an economic crisis, meaning compromises are necessary when deciding on measures. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also appealed on the government not to adopt new restrictions in order to protect jobs.

The latest infections put Slovenia's coronavirus case count to just short of 49,000 with 20,712 cases still active, according to the tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org. The rolling 14-day average of infections per 100,000 residents has fallen to 988.

The death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 645.

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