Lifestyle

13 Jan 2021, 21:56 PM

STA, 13 January 2020 - The vast majority of existing coronavirus restrictions will be extended until 22 January, the government decided as it conducted its weekly review of the measures on Wednesday. The only major change is an extension of the formal state of the epidemic by 60 days.

There are very few changes compared to existing restrictions, most of them having to do with the crossing of borders.

Most notably, as of 16 January there is a waiver of quarantine requirement for owners of land on both sides of the border who cross the border to tend to their property.

Passengers crossing into Slovenia must still produce a negative coronavirus test unless they fall within one of the exemptions, and now the validity of the result of rapid antigen tests has been reduced to 24 hours. The results of PCR tests can still be up to 48 hours old.

On the other hand, those who want to cut their quarantine short can now do so by producing a negative rapid antigen test.

The red list of countries from which passengers must quarantine has been extended with the addition of Ireland, which has seen a surge in new cases in recent days.

Most businesses must remain closed, but dry cleaners have now been added to the exemptions. The change takes effect on 16 January.

The formal state of the epidemic will be extended by sixty days from 17 January. The state of epidemic mostly allows for greater involvement of civil protection services in the coronavirus relief effort.

13 Jan 2021, 14:37 PM

STA, 13 January 2020 - Slovenia logged 2,092 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, down nearly 40% on the record daily figure a week ago. A total of 17 patients died, the latest government data show.

This comes from 6,193 PCR tests, of which 28.5% were positive, and 5,750 rapid antigen tests, where the positivity rate was 5.7%.

While infections and cases were down, the number of patients in hospital increased substantially.

There were 1,244 persons in hospital, up 42 over the day before, of which 206 in intensive care, 14 more than the day before.

Slovenia has so far reported nearly 143,700 confirmed cases of coronavirus, corresponding to over 7% of the entire population.

The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) estimates there are currently almost 24,000 active cases in the country.

A total of 3,070 persons with Covid-19 have died.

Slovenia had a 14-day incidence of 1,130 cases per 100,000 population yesterday, and an average of 1,667 daily cases over the past seven days, according to NIJZ data.

More data on Slovenia and coronavirus

13 Jan 2021, 12:19 PM

STA, 12 January 2020 - The Slovenian part of the Adriatic Sea has not been spared from the impact of climate change in recent decades, with the worst consequences including bleaching and die-off of corals, as well as the arrival of non-native species due to tropicalisation. Seaside wetlands are also expected to gradually disappear due to the rising sea level.

Presenting the situation at Tuesday's virtual lecture, marine biologist Lovrenc Lipej said that the consequences of climate change were already causing concrete problems in the Slovenian territorial waters.

Lipej, who works in the Marine Biology Station in Piran, pointed to the damage done to the cushion coral, a stony coral that forms the only true coral reefs in the Mediterranean Sea.

It is an endangered species that may be found in the Strunjan nature reserve, and is important due to its role of bio-architect, as it provides housing to various marine organisms, thus contributing to biodiversity.

This coral is sensitive to high temperatures, which may cause bleaching. This is a recoverable state, but in the worst-case scenario it causes die-offs.

Both occurrences have already been observed in Slovenia, where seawater temperature is not as problematic as the fact that relatively high water temperatures (up to 26 degrees Celsius) persist late into the autumn, Lipej noted.

What is more, due to tropicalisation, non-native species are expanding towards the north of the Adriatic Sea. A number of such species have been observed in the Slovenian sea in recent years, including the eyespot puffer and the bluefish.

In addition to environmental damage, these species may also cause economic damage, as the bluefish preys on the mullets and other commercial fish species, he added.

Due to the rising sea level, it is expected that certain wetlands along the Slovenian coast will become submerged, including the Sečovlje Saltworks and the Škocjanski Zatok nature reserve.

Biodiversity is expected to be affected there as the areas serve as nesting grounds for certain bird species.

According to Lipej, there are also issues that experts cannot attribute to climate change with certainty, such as the vanishing of seagrass beds and meadows.

He added that the Marine Biology Station was looking for possible solutions, such as repopulation of seagrass beds, growing young corals in laboratories, precise monitoring and elimination of non-native species and measures for balanced exchange of fresh and sea water in lagoons.

12 Jan 2021, 13:05 PM

STA, 11 January 2020 - The number of deaths in Slovenia in 2020 is expected to be the highest since the Second World War based on data collected so far. The number of excess deaths in 2020 compared to 2019 was 3,153, while compared to the last five years, it was 3,821, show data by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

In 2019, a total of 21,112 deaths were recorded in Slovenia, but last year the figure rose to 24,265. In the last five years, 20,444 persons died a year on average.

Compared to the average of the last five years, there were 3,821 more deaths last year, of which 930 were deaths not related to Covid-19. If only 2019 and 2020 are compared, the number of excess deaths not related to Covid-19 is 262.

"Excess deaths were recorded also in connection to diagnoses and diseases that are not directly linked to Covid-19," NIJZ head Milan Krek told the press today.

According to the preliminary data by the Statistics Office for last year, 20,634 people died between January and the end of November, which is 10% more than in the same period in 2019. A total of 3,059 people died in November 2020 alone, which is 85.5% more than in November 2019.

NIJZ data show that 2,891 people with a confirmed coronavirus infection died last year. Most of the deceased were the elderly from care home.

According to Krek, the data on Covid-19 patients were being collected two ways in Slovenia. The Health Ministry collects the data on the number of deceased Covid-19 patients in hospitals and care homes every morning. The NIJZ, however, collects the data on the bases of those who tested positive to coronavirus, and death certificates and documents on deaths due to contagious diseases.

NIJZ includes in its statistics deaths where an infection was confirmed 28 days before the death.

Since the methodology is different, the data cannot be compared directly, and a unified classification is yet to be set up on a global level, Krek explained. "The procedure is time-consuming, so we cannot report on deaths for individual days."

Among the 2,891 persons with a confirmed infection who died last year, 1,682 were care home residents, which is 58% of the deaths.

"One in ten care home residents died because of Covid-19," he illustrated, adding that 15% of care home residents with the infection had died.

The most deaths where a coronavirus infection was confirmed (603) was recorded in central Slovenia, the region with the most inhabitants, but the number of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants was the highest in the Pomurje region in north-east (268). Koroška follows with 206 deaths per 100,000 people and Podravje with 156.

More than 50% of the deaths with confirmed infection was recorded among those over 85 years of age.

More on this data

11 Jan 2021, 19:01 PM

STA, 11 January 2020 - Mass testing for novel coronavirus with rapid antigen tests for residents of the Ljubljana municipality is being moved from Kodeljevo Arena to the Gospodarsko Razstavišče Exhibition and Convention Centre in the centre of the capital.

As of tomorrow, testing will be conducted at Hall A of on working days from 11am to 3pm, with registrations possible until 1:30pm. Vaccination against Covid-19 will also start at the same location tomorrow.

The testing location has been changed as the new location is more accessible and the venue is larger, as demand is increasing, the Ljubljana Community Health Centre said on Monday.

Vaccination against Covid-19 will be carried out exclusively for persons on priority lists who have expressed their wish to be vaccinated and were invited for vaccination by their personal physicians.

11 Jan 2021, 13:30 PM

STA, 9 January 2020 - Slovenia is to receive 26,000 doses of the newly approved Moderna coronavirus vaccine by the end of February, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. The European Commission and Moderna agreed on the supply of 80 million doses with the possibility of increase by another 80 million doses. Slovenia has the right to 369,767 doses from each supply.

Moderna vaccine was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on 6 January and its distribution among member states will start next week. It is the second coronavirus vaccine to gain approval in the EU, with Pfizer/BioNTech inoculation campaign running since 27 December.

The US-French pharmaceutical company has informed the European Commission and member states that its production capacities are limited, affecting its supply of the EU market, the Health Ministry said.

While Slovenia is to get 26,000 doses in the first two months of the year, Modern is yet to inform the Commission and member states how many doses it will be able to deliver in March, the Health Ministry said.

It also expressed hope that the company will be able to scale up its production capacities soon and underlined that Slovenia is striving to get as much vaccine as it is eligible to, no matter the price.

The European Commission has moreover called on member states to inform it of their needs for more doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the ministry said, adding that Slovenia expressed interest for one million additional doses.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines require two doses to achieve immunity.

Get the latest figures on Slovenia and coronavirus here

11 Jan 2021, 09:07 AM

STA, 10 January 2020 - The expected rise in sea level in the coming decades and high tide flooding could affect some 3,800 people living on the Slovenian coast, flooding some nature reserves out of existence, a study has found.

High tides have been increasingly flooding low-lying parts of the Slovenian coast and sea level has risen by 10 centimetres in the past 50 years or by 1.7 millimetres a year, shows the study, conducted by researchers of the geography department of the University of Primorska Faculty of Humanities.

The researchers, Gregor Kovačič and Valentina Brečko Grubar, note that in the past 20 years the rise in sea level in Slovenia has been higher even than European and global average.

Scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate the global sea level could rise by up to 100 centimetres by 2100, but unlikely not by less than 50 centimetres.

Given a 50 centimetre rise in sea level, high tide floods would cover 700 hectares of the Slovenian coast with about 25 centimetres of water on the lowest sections of the coast.

This would mean extensive flooding of the salt pans in Strunjan and Sečovlje as important fauna and flora habitats and of some residential buildings in the town Piran.

During high tide, the water level would be comparable to that of extremely high tides or extreme floods today, with about 80 centimetres of water on low-lying parts of the coast, or even 144 centimetres in case of a exceptionally high tide.

If sea level was to rise by a metre and given an increased tide, 1,246 hectares of land would be under water, an area comparable to exceptional flooding today.

The built-up areas of low coast would be threatened such as those in the area of Koper port or Bonifika in Koper, the coastal sections of Izola, and part of the settlement of Strunjan.

Like today, Piran would be hit the hardest with large part of the old town under water. Some residential areas of Lucija would also be flooded and the entire Sečovelje salt pans.

Given such a rise in sea level, more than 800 buildings would be flooded, affecting about 3,800 residents, most of them in the Koper municipality.

The rise in sea level would cause extraordinary flooding every year and part of the low coast would be mostly under water. The flooded area would increase considerably when the tide was in.

Even if the land was dry when the tide was out, the soil would be inappropriate for farming because of the salt in it.

Conservation areas such as the Škocjanski Zatok, Sečoveljske Soline and Stjuža in Strunjan would be gone forever, the researchers warn.

They call for making out detailed mid- and long-term plans to adapt to the consequences of sea flooding, including by mapping out where certain human activities are no longer possible.

Ljubljana Predicted to Be World's Fastest-Warming City

09 Jan 2021, 15:36 PM

STA, 9 January 2020 - A number of additional activities deemed essential are permitted to reopen on Saturday. Non-essential shops and services remain closed. Museums and galleries are closed again as of today and sports activities are restricted.

The government extended the shutdown of non-essential shops and services until 15 January at Thursday's session.

Additional activities have been added to the list of exceptions though, including surveying services, cleaning services, medical pedicure and construction works with zero contact with clients.

With the exception of a time window of eased restrictions ahead of New Year's, non-essential shops and services have been closed since 24 October to help stem the epidemic.

Ski resorts, which had to close again on Friday, are available only to professional athletes or in the event of emergencies. As of today, training is also allowed only for top and professional athletes as well as up-and-coming younger athletes.

Sports recreation is permitted only outdoors for individuals or persons from the same household. Travelling to other municipalities within one's region is still allowed for the purposes of exercising.

Another closure of museums and galleries enters into force today as well. Libraries are staying open, however books may be picked up only at outdoor pick-up points.

From today it is also possible to enter Slovenia with a negative PCR or rapid test. Negative results of molecular tests conducted in third countries have been deemed acceptable as well, whereas antigen tests need to have been performed in the EU or Schengen area for the results to be taken into consideration.

Rapid testing that rolled out recently at five border crossings with Croatia to screen post-holiday travellers is no longer available.

The latest data on coronavirus and Slovenia

07 Jan 2021, 16:53 PM

STA, 7 January 2020 - Mass antigen rapid testing has been suspended in Ljubljana due to unsuitable swabs, the Ljubljana Health Community Centre has announced.

The health centre told the STA they had suspended testing based on a decision by the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices, which found the swabs unsuitable because their producer is not known and the swabs have no required markings.

The agency said in a press release today that this had been determined as part of an inquiry into the suitability of the rapid antigen tests kits by Chinese producer Shenzen Ultra-Diagnostic Biotec supplied by company Majbert Pharm.

Subsequently, a temporary ban was issued preventing further use of the swabs. The agency stressed that the ban was in place exclusively for the swabs.

The Ljubljana Health Community Centre announced it was suspending mass testing that should have resumed at Kodeljevo sports hall at 11am today due to a lack of proper swabbing materials.

They said testing would resume as soon as they received permission and suitable materials from the Health Ministry or the relevant institution.

Mass testing was also suspended in Medvode, a town just north-west of Ljubljana. The local authorities said the community health centre there had received only 350 tests from the Health Ministry and would soon run out of tests, considering the great numbers of people wanting to be swabbed.

The Medvode Community Health Centre will resume testing next week, on Tuesday. Testing will be available to Medvode residents only.

The Agency for Medicinal Products announced yesterday it would examine the suitability of antigen tests after suspicions had been raised about the tests' reliability.

The Chinese-made rapid antigen tests have been supplied by Majbert Pharm, a company owned by a pair reportedly linked to cryptocurrency pyramid schemes, which won a public tender in December for offering the lowest price, at EUR 1.982 apiece.

The web portal Necenzurirano has reported that the tests had shown a false positive result in several cases.

The opposition Social Democrats (SD) reacted by filing a request for an emergency session of the parliamentary Health Committee to discuss the transparency and lawfulness of the public tender for the rapid antigen tests and the suitability of the supplied tests.

It said that suggestions that the supply of inappropriate tests could be linked to the ruling Democrats (SDS) should be investigated immediately along with any potential violations of anti-corruption legislation.

The latest numbers on coronavirus and Slovenia

07 Jan 2021, 14:31 PM

STA, 7 January 2020 - Last year saw temperatures that were above average as well as an average precipitation volume and above-average sun exposure, show interim data released by the Environmental Agency (ARSO) on Thursday. The year of 2020 ranks among the hottest five recorded since 1961.

The temperature departure from the 1981-2010 average stood at 1.3 Celsius in 2020, meaning the year ranks fifth among the hottest years on record, preceded by 2019, 2018, 2015 and 2014.

The latter is considered the hottest as temperatures rose to 1.7 Celsius above the average that year.

The temperature departure in these years was most pronounced in southern Slovenia, excluding the coast and Bela Krajina in the south, and in parts of the country in the north-east bordering on Croatia.

All the months of 2020 were above-average hot, except for May.

The greatest temperature departure was recorded in February, 4.5 Celsius, making last year's February the second hottest February since 1961.

July temperatures were closest to the average, whereas May 2020 was a bit colder, with the temperature departure standing at -0,5 Celsius.

Long-term temperature measurements in Slovenia show that climate has been warming up in past decades, the agency said.

Last year was the tenth in a row recording rising temperatures compared to the 1981-2010 average. Since 2000, there have been only three years when temperatures dropped on the average.

The eight hottest years on record have been recorded since then, and among 20 years with the highest temperatures only three were prior to 2000.

Moreover, last year was declared the hottest year on record in a number of European countries.

According to ARSO data, the precipitation volume in 2020 was roughly on par with the average. January was the driest month, whereas December was the wettest.

Sun exposure was also above average, with 2020 ranking among five sunniest since 1961. The year that saw most sunshine is 2011.

January and April were particularly above average when it comes to sunny days. On the other hand, December was most notably below average.

06 Jan 2021, 15:59 PM

STA, 6 January 2020 - A total of 3,354 coronavirus infections were confirmed in Slovenia on Tuesday from a combined 22,194 PCR and rapid antigen tests, the highest daily number of cases yet, as the positivity rate for PCR tests hit a record high, government data show. A further 31 Covid-19 patients lost their lives.

Of the 6,956 PCR tests performed yesterday, 2,602 returned positive results for a positivity rate of 37.4%. In addition, 752 infections were confirmed from 15,238 rapid antigen tests (4.9%), Jelko Kacin, the government's Covid-19 spokesman, told the press.

“Non-Essential” Retail, Services Remain Closed Until 13 January

The daily number of cases from both types of tests is up by 853 from the day before and compares to the previous high of 2,611 logged on 27 October, when only PCR were counted as valid.

Addressing the daily briefing, Nuška Čakš Jager, deputy head of the Centre for Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), suggested the rise in infections in recent days was mainly due to private gatherings and family reunions over the holidays.

She cited case statistics as showing infections among care home residents were decreasing, while cases were rising among other groups of the population, in particularly those aged 25 to 34, and to an extent those between 45 and 54 years of age.

"That, along with the survey among the infected confirms the likeliest reason for the increase in transmissions was private gatherings and family reunions during the holidays," said Čakš Jager.

She said a further increase in infections was expected in the coming few days, but NIJZ was not planning to recommend any new restrictions for the time being as recommendations in place such as those pertaining to social distancing "should suffice to contain the spread of infections if everyone stuck to them".

Kacin said potential new measures or changes to the existing ones could be expected at the government session on Thursday after the government meets in its Covid-19 format in the afternoon today.

After Croatia confirmed a Scottish strain of the novel coronavirus yesterday and several countries, including Austria, reported having confirmed the fast transmittable British mutation, Kacin said an analysis conducted by the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology of the Ljubljana Faculty of Medicine had not yet detected the presence of the British variant in Slovenia.

The number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 dropped by 16 to 1,177 after 106 were discharged and 114 were newly admitted. The number of those in intensive care units dropped by six to 182, Kacin said.

NIJZ data show Slovenia has confirmed 131,787 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic with an estimated 21,697 cases still active.

The 14-day incidence of cases per 100,00 residents is 1,032, while the seven-day daily average of cases is 1,703.

According to tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org, the latest deaths bring the country's death toll from Covid-19 to 2,899.

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