Daily coronavirus count tops 3,000 for first time
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia logged a record 3,354 coronavirus infections from a combined 22,194 PCR and rapid antigen tests performed on Tuesday, as the positivity rate for PCR tests hit a record high. Nuška Čakš Jager of the National Institute of Public Health said an increase in infections among young people and a survey the infected suggested the rise transmissions in recent days was mainly due to private gatherings and family reunions over the holidays. Further increase is expected in coming days. With 31 more deaths the Covid-19 death toll rose to 2,899.
Draft audit report finds PPE purchases inefficient
LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Delo disclosed findings from the still confidential draft audit report on the purchases of personal protective equipment during the spring wave of coronavirus, compiled by the Court of Audit. The report finds the purchases were inefficient, as an efficient system to assess the needs for essential supplies had not been put in place, also due to failings by the previous government. The report does not name anyone in particular as especially problematic. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said the findings showed the allegations of massive corruption were baseless. The court's president Tomaž Vesel told the STA that the Court of Audit had not sent the draft report to anyone but the audited parties, and assessed that the summary in the media was a "one-sided display of partial information."
Public agency looking into suitability of rapid antigen tests
LJUBLJANA - The Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices has decided to carry out an extraordinary inspection of the suitability of the rapid antigen tests the Health Ministry purchased in December from the company Majbert Pharm. The decision comes after suspicion has been raised in the public about the reliability of these tests. Health Minister Tomaž Gantar told the STA in a response that the purchase of rapid antigen tests had been urgent, as otherwise it would be impossible to carry out mass testing as recommended by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Commission.
Tonin says ruling coalition's majority solid
LJUBLJANA - Matej Tonin, the defence minister and leader of New Slovenia (NSi), said the ruling coalition had "solid" 47 MP votes even after the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) quit the coalition. He is convinced the government will finish the term without major difficulties. Tonin based his claim on the 47 MP votes on dozens of telephone conversations and guarantees given by MPs. He said he would not be surprised if the opposition failed to seek the planned vote of no confidence in the end.
Left in favour of no-confidence motion, Erjavec for PM
LJUBLJANA - The council of the opposition Left expressed support to a motion of no-confidence in the Janez Janša government with Karl Erjavec, the leader of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), as prime minister-designate, the party said. Other opposition parties from the Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL) have already backed Erjavec's candidacy.
Janša talks Covid-19 pandemic with Taiwanese health minister
LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša spoke in his capacity as interim health minister with Chen Shih-chung, the minister of health and welfare of Taiwan, via videolink to exchange views on the Covid-19 pandemic and share good practices. Janša thanked Chen for Taiwan's donation of protective masks in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic last April. Taiwan, with which Slovenia has no diplomatic relations, is among the countries that have been the most successful in tackling the pandemic by introducing strict control on borders and diligently tracing contacts of infected persons.
No Slovenian soldier in Latvia infected with coronavirus
RIGA, Latvia - While several soldiers deployed in Latvia as part of a NATO mission have been infected with the new coronavirus, no Slovenian soldier is among them, the Slovenian Armed Forces told the STA. The Latvian Defence Ministry did not provide details about the nationalities and the number of infected soldiers, but a Canadian TV channel reported that several Canadian soldiers were among them. Currently, 40 Slovenians are serving in Enhanced Forward Presence.
Unemployment total up 15.9% year-on-year
LJUBLJANA - The Covid-19 pandemic pushed up Slovenia's registered unemployment total to 87,283 at the end of December 2020, up 15.9% year-on-year, and 3.7% more than at the end of November last year. The Employment Service noted the growth in unemployment would have been even higher had it not been for the government's job retention schemes. 7,735 persons had registered anew in December, up 5.2% compared with the month before, while 2,913 had found a job, down 36.5% from November.
Shutdown of non-essential stores and services extended
LJUBLJANA - The government has extended the shutdown of non-essential shops and services by another week until 13 January. Several existing exceptions will continue to apply, including shops selling mainly groceries, personal care and cleaning items, pharmacies, stores selling medical and orthopaedic equipment, farming shops, petrol stations, financial services, post offices and delivery services. Also allowed to remain open are newsagents and hair salons, among several other exceptions.
Janša, medical experts not keen on prompt school reopening
LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša and medical experts are not in favour of schools and kindergartens reopening soon, arguing the epidemiological situation has worsened after Christmas holidays, when some socialising and business restrictions were briefly relaxed. Janša said as he met representatives of teachers today that the government would decide on the matter on Thursday, but could not tell what the decision would be.
Brdo Hotel renovation to begin later this month
BRDO PRI KRANJU - After delays in selecting the contractor to renovate the Brdo Hotel, a key accommodation facility for Slovenia's EU presidency, the state-owned Brdo estate signed a contract with construction company Makro 5. Works will kick off later this months and should be completed three weeks before Slovenia takes over the presidency. The hotel is located at the main entrance to the Brdo park, only a short walk from the conference centre, which has served as the main venue of Slovenia's first EU presidency in 2008 and will once again assume this role in the second half of 2021.
Stojan Petrič joins management board of Delo
LJUBLJANA - Stojan Petrič, the director of the asset management company FMR, which owns the newspaper publisher Delo, has joined the management board of Delo as director along with Andrej Kren and Nataša Luša, shows a posting on the website of the AJPES agency for legal records. Petrič, who is also the chairman of the supervisory board of the industrial group Kolektor, which is controlled by FMR, is a management board member of the publisher of the eponymous daily newspaper from 1 January.
Ljubljana listed among world's most sustainable cities
LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana has made the Lonely Planet's list of the world's eight most sustainable cities. The capital is praised for being liveable, "extremely clean and increasingly green". The article notes that Ljubljana was the first European city to commit to a zero-waste goal. Moreover, it says that over 10 hectares of the city centre are pedestrianized. The list also includes Copenhagen, Portland, Singapore, Lisbon, Bengaluru, Vancouver and San Francisco.
Jasna Hengović becomes woman engineer of the year
LJUBLJANA - Jasna Hengović, a software developer at Cosylab, has become the Woman Engineer of the Year, as this accolade has been given out for the third year to encourage young women to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Together with her colleagues, the winner develops software and integrates it with hardware for the most advanced systems in the world, such as ITER, ESA, CERN or ALMA.
EU leaders under scrutiny at art exhibition
LJUBLJANA - An exhibition examining online algorithms relied upon by many human resource executives is opening tonight at Aksioma in Ljubljana. The Berlin-based !Mediengruppe Bitnik, consisting of Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo, applied the algorithms to those holding the top-level jobs in Europe - the heads of state of EU member countries. Flagged for Political Speech will run until 22 January.