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26 Oct 2020, 12:06 PM

STA, 26 October 2020 - A special audit has found irregularities in eight of a total of 30 audited deals energy company Petrol concluded under the former Tomaž Berločnik-led management in 2015-2019. The auditor believes that some irregularities show the management could be liable for damages while elements of criminal liability have also been detected.

BDO Revizor audited 30 deals concluded between 1 January 2015 and 24 October 2019, when the three-member Berločnik management resigned "by mutual agreement".

Audited were the transactions in excess of a million euro concerning the acquisition and disposal of financial investments, other types of investments, and sponsorship contracts.

The report on the audit, which Petrol published on the website of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange on Friday, points to irregularities in the transactions concerning the companies Mbills, Zagorski Metalac, Petrol Beograd, Vjetroelektrarne Glunča, Petrol Hidroenergija, Atet, BH Petrol Oil Company, and Abciti.

These transactions involved acquisitions of ownership stakes in these companies, capital injections or registration of a new company.

They involved violations of internal provisions about compulsory supervisor approval and the absence of due care while the management also underestimated economic feasibility of certain deals.

BDO Revizor maintains that to prove the former management board has caused damage to the company, Petrol will have to seek opinion by various economics experts.

The auditor also detected elements which indicate that the former management possibly committed crimes.

"Given potential court proceedings, the circumstances of this segment of the audit have not been disclosed," the release said.

A decision on the audit was taken in December 2019 as the shareholders met to confront the former management with allegations of mismanagement in drafting plans for 2020-2022. Berločnik, however, claimed the management had to resign due to different views on Petrol's future strategy.

26 Oct 2020, 11:04 AM

STA, 24 October 2020 - Slovenia is conducting intense preparations for its EU presidency in the second half of 2021, which is expected to foreground economic recovery after Covid-19, the EU's resilience to crises and the bloc's expansion as priorities.

Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan told the STA that "it is increasingly clear to the government what will be doable during the presidency" and what Slovenia can contribute. Things will also depend on how much is done by Germany and Portugal, which will precede Slovenia at the helm of the EU Council.

The second aspect, one where preparations still have a bit to go, is the coordination with the next trio of presiding countries - France, Czechia and Sweden. It is in Slovenia's interest that things that successively presiding countries have in common and are feasible be put on the list of priorities and that a kind of common thread is secured for two trios, Dovžan explained.

The draft of the priorities, which is being debated continuously by a taskforce, will be finally out only at the end of June next year, but it includes economic recovery and development after the pandemic. It will be key to use the envisaged funds as wisely as possible so that a green transition is secured, the official said.

The other priority task of Slovenia's presidency will be strengthening of the EU's resilience to different kinds of crises, which includes pandemics, cyber attacks and migration.

"This is something that is a challenge for all of us and we see that the level of the EU's autonomy needs to be raised here," said Dovžan, the no. 2 official responsible for the presidency project after Foreign Minister Anže Logar.

Another priority will be preserving the focus on EU enlargement. "The crisis we are witnessing has also shown how dependent we are on neighbours and from the standpoint of practical solidarity and security we need to strengthen efforts for the enlargement process to continue," he said.

The programme of the presidency will also depend on the programme of the European Commission for next year, which was adopted this week but is now subject to coordination among EU institutions. Dovžan said Slovenia needs to see what concrete legislation is expected to be on the table during its presidency.

The Commission has already taken the initiative with the financial framework of the EU, the recovery fund, migration and climate change, he added.

The priority tasks will also determine where the country will need the most staffing support during the presidency. Given the Commission's programme this will be finance, interior affairs and climate change. The latter will mostly require people with broad horizontal knowledge, the state secretary argued.

There is a general need for people with very good horizontal knowledge who "can step in in different areas and fill the gaps that are also being created by the pandemic".

Dovžan expects that candidates will also apply that already have some experience, as well as driven young people willing to learn fast.

Asked whether the staff will be ready for the task by July next year, he said that nobody included in the project will be alone.

"This work is done in groups, so we feel the train has not departed yet," Dovžan said, mentioning reassignments within the system and a strong push toward being ready as much as possible by 30 June next year given the circumstances.

He explained that about 61% of the planned 350 fixed-term hirings for the presidency project have been completed by mid-September. The number of total hirings planned has not been changed for the time being.

"We want to see now how many people are hired by 10 November and then we will decide if the posts left unoccupied at individual ministries will be used to directly strengthen the permanent representation in Brussels," Dovžan said.

He explained that the pandemic and the problems with travelling made it likely that the presidency will be focused in Brussels more than expected. There is also the infection and self-isolation factor, which leads to sudden shortages of staff, which is why it is necessary to have extra capacities, the state secretary said.

He added that the situation has also led to a decrease in the planned informal events related to the presidency in Slovenia. While the idea was to organise more than 300 such events, the plan is to reduce this figure by around 20%.

26 Oct 2020, 04:25 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

Nearly 1,700 new coronavirus cases on record high positivity rate

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia saw 1,675 new coronavirus cases for Saturday as a record 29% of all tests returned positive results. Hospitalisations exceeded 500 and another six patients with Covid-19 died. The country's total case count has now neared 23,000, at 22,952, as the number of active cases increased to 14,288, data from the government and national Covid-19 tracker site show. The rolling 14-day average per 100,000 residents increased to 682 and the death toll rose to 241. The Jožef Stefan Institute estimates the reproduction number rose to 2.20 as the daily number of cases doubles in 6.2 days.

Ban to be imposed on movements between municipalities

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša announced a ban on movements between municipalities will be imposed for the whole country starting from Tuesday in response to the surge in coronavirus. "The restriction will be initially in force for 7 days for the whole country, and will be eased gradually by regions that will first curb the epidemic," Janša said on his Twitter profile. A similar ban in spring provoked a major controversy, but it has been cleared by the Constitutional Court.

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Non-essential medical services suspended

LJUBLJANA - Most non-essential medical services were suspended under a decree issued by the Health Minister Tomaž Gantar to focus health resources on the battle against Covid-19. After some hospitals, including UKC Ljubljana had started suspending non-essential services in recent days, the new decree applies to health providers nation-wide. Oncology, services for pregnant women and newborns, vaccination and occupational medicine are exempt from suspension.

President appeals for cross-partisan effort to overcome crisis

LJUBLJANA - Addressing the nation on Sovereignty Day, 29 years to the day after the last Yugoslav troops left Slovenian soil, President Borut Pahor appealed on parliamentary parties to take their cue from their predecessors of the time, and commit to work together to defeat the coronavirus crisis. Pahor said Slovenia was now again facing a situation when political and all-national cooperation was essential. In separate messages, similar calls, evoking the nation's courage, resolve and unity of the time, were also made Prime Minister Janez Janša and National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič.

Janša's Trump endorsement sparks exchange with Biden aide

NEW YORK, US/LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša's endorsement of US President Donald Trump for a second term has sparked an acrimonious Twitter exchange with Michael Carpenter, the foreign policy advisor to Trump's Democrat challenger Joseph Biden. "Lol, Trump picks up an endorsement from Slovenia's prime minister, previously indicted and convicted on corruption charges," Carpenter tweeted on Friday, with Janša denouncing the tweet as a blatant lie on Twitter on Saturday.

Sunday shop closure takes effect

LJUBLJANA - Today was the first Sunday that almost all shops must remain closed in accordance with an amendment to the retail act that the National Assembly passed in late September. The exemptions to the blanket ban include shops under 200 m2 at service stations, border crossings, ports, airports, train and bus stations, and hospitals. Outside these facilities, shops with a surface area of under 200 m2 may open, but only shop owners, students and pensioners may work Sundays, regular employees may not.

Roglič loses red jersey at the Vuelta

LJUBLJANA - Ecuadorian rider Richard Carapaz took the Vuelta a Espana overall leader's red jersey from defending champion Primož Roglič after Spaniard Ion Izagirre won the sixth stage in the Pyrenees. Finishing 20th today, the Slovenian Jumbo-Visma rider fell to fourth overall, but remains in contention for the overall lead with a 30 second-lag behind Carapaz. That is if the race if continues on Tuesday after a state of emergency was declared for the whole of Spain due to coronavirus.

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25 Oct 2020, 20:46 PM

STA, 25 October 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has announced a ban on movements between municipalities will be imposed for the whole country starting from Tuesday in response to the surge in coronavirus. [Ed. Assume this means from midnight Monday]

"The restriction will be initially in force for 7 days for the whole country, and will be eased gradually by regions that will first curb the epidemic," Janša said on his Twitter profile.

"Let's do everything to limit contacts to the minimum and so that restrictions can be lifted as soon as possible. Protect lives, health and prosperity," reads Janša's tweet with the hashtag We Can Do It.

Janša said that exceptions to the ban outside the municipality of residence would as those valid during a similar ban in spring.

The exceptions are thus expected to be similar as for the ban on movements between regions already in force and include commute to work, travel for the purposes of business, farming, access to health services and pharmacies, caring for or assisting a close relative, and seeing to a property.

In justifying the ban, Janša noted that the numbers of Covid-19 patients are rising, so additional measures were being imposed from the government plan to control the epidemic.

Janša referred to an earlier announcement by Health Minister Tomaž Gantar that more tan 700 beds for Covid-19 patients would soon be ready with talks under way to secure a further 300 if necessary.

"Activities to secure healthcare capacities continue uninterruptedly. Including in spas and hotels. No need for tents and fairgrounds," Janša said.

The latest government data show that there are currently 508 patients hospitalised with Covid-19, including 71 in intensive care units.

Slovenia reported 1,675 new coronavirus cases for Saturday for the total case count of 22,952, as the number of active cases increased to 14,288. The death toll increased by six to 241.

The spring ban on movements between municipalities has been challenged at the Constitutional Court, which has given its clearance for the measure.

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25 Oct 2020, 20:36 PM

STA, 25 October 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša's endorsement of US President Donald Trump for a second term has sparked an acrimonious Twitter exchange with Michael Carpenter, the foreign policy advisor to Trump's Democrat challenger Joseph Biden.

"Lol, Trump picks up an endorsement from Slovenia's prime minister, previously indicted and convicted on corruption charges. But don't worry, Slovenian friends, in 11 days we'll be sending demagogic populism packing," Carpenter tweeted, adding the Slovenian word for shame, 'sramota' at the end.

This was after Janša joined leaders of the likes of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in endorsing Trump.

"We respect difficult, tragic personal life of Joe Biden and some of his political achievements years ago. But today, if elected, he would be one of the weakest presidents in history," Janša tweeted on Friday.

In response to Carpenter's tweet Janša denounced it as blatant lie on Twitter on Saturday.

"Yes, I was not only wrongfully convicted, but also sent to prison 3 times starting with 1988 trial in front of Yugoslav communist military court. But all cases were dismantled by Constitutional or other courts. It is A.D. 2021. You can easily check the facts online," Janša tweeted.

"Despite that, you are blatantly lying. Now I see why @realDonaldTrump calls you the #Swamp. Even if this is an influence of yours "slovenian friends", it doesn't excuse you. Hope US administration will newer again shame itself by such "career" diplomat."

Janša also said that "all of us outside #US will of course respect the decision of US voters whatever they decide. Hope you will do the same (there are some doubts watching your supporters in Baltimore)".

Carpenter's tweet invited both negative and positive reactions. Dan Fried, a former as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, tweeted that it was not wise for a country to take sides in another country's democratic elections.

Reporting on Janša's endorsement of Trump, the Associated Press wrote that right-wing conservatives in Eastern and Central Europe, like Orban, Serbian President Aleksanda Vučić and Janša, "have sometimes copied Trump's style of leadership".

25 Oct 2020, 13:29 PM

STA, 25 October 2020 - Slovenia saw 1,675 new coronavirus cases for Saturday as a record 29% of all tests returned positive results. Hospitalisations exceeded 500 and another five patients with Covid-19 died, fresh government data show.

The daily tally is just 286 below Friday's absolute record of 1,961, but on fewer tests performed, at 5,776, compared to 7,025 on Friday as the positivity rate climbed further.

The country's total case count has now neared 23,000, at 22,952, as the number of active cases increased to 14,288, data from tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org show.

The death toll has risen to 241, after the government reported on six deaths for Saturday, up from five initially reported by the Health Ministry.

The rolling 14-day average of cases per 100,000 residents has increased to 682.

With another 89 admissions, Covid-19 hospitalisations rose to 508, despite 23 patients discharged home. The number of those requiring intensive care rose by eight to 71.

As hospitals are becoming stretched with Covid-19 patients, most non-urgent medical services were suspended today under a decree issued by the Health Health Minister Tomaž Gantar the night before.

UKC Ljubljana, the country's largest medical centre, already suspended most non-essential services on Friday, while it is expanding Covid-19 units and beds.

UKC Ljubljana director general Janez Poklukar has announced an expansion to the Peter Držaj Hospital in the Šiška borough as the fourth location for Covid-19 patients after the departments of the infectious diseases, orthopaedics and a former paediatric hospital.

As on Sunday, UKC Ljubljana is treating 121 patients with Covid-19, of them 25 in intensive care,
infectiologist Mateja Logar said.

Considering the growth in infections reflects the situation ten days ago, Logar could not say yet how effective the latest restrictions will be. "Let's hope the situation will stabilise, bottom up next week," she said.

"Our estimate is that one in 50 residents is positive, so the likelihood of us getting infected is greater," Logar said, urging on everyone to abide by preventive measures and not to meet the extended family or socialise outside their family bubble, even while visiting graves for All Saint's Day.

The Covid-19 tracker site shows that most of the latest cases, 227, were recorded in Ljubljana, followed by 91 in Kranj in the north-west, and 51 in Domžale, just to the north of Ljubljana.

Ljubljana now has 1,919 active infections for a per capita infection rate of 0.65%; Kranj has 717 active cases or 1.26% of its residents infected and Domžale has 543 active infections (1.48%). The infection rates in some of the smaller municipalities are higher.

Non-essential medical services suspended

STA, 25 October 2020 - Most non-essential medical services will be temporarily unavailable as of Sunday under a decree issued by the Health Minister Tomaž Gantar late on Saturday that focuses health resources on the battle against Covid-19.

While some hospitals, including UKC Ljubljana, the largest hospital complex in the country, have started suspending non-essential services in recent days, this decree now applies to health providers nation-wide.

It stipulates that all services except oncology, services for pregnant women and newborns, vaccination and work medicine are suspended as of today.

This includes all preventive services with the exception of cancer screening programmes, prevention for pregnant women, new mothers and newborns, preventive checks for children under a year old, preventive services concerning occupational medicine, and services whose suspension would have a direct negative impact on a patient's health.

Hospitals will adjust the number of specialist examinations and suspend all but the most urgent surgeries.

The decree stipulates that health providers at the primary level must provide sufficient capacity for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. If they cannot do that alone, they may join forces with other providers.

In a second decree, the minister determined that medical interns and speciality trainees must be included in the provision of services necessary to battle the Covid-19 epidemic.

Both decrees enter into force today and the minister will check every 14 days whether the measures are still needed.

Slovenia recorded nearly 2,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the last day for which data are currently available. There were 449 Covid-19 patients in hospital yesterday, including 63 in intensive care, according to data tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik.

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25 Oct 2020, 13:16 PM

STA, 25 October 2020 - Slovenia celebrates Sovereignty Day, a national holiday commemorating the day when the last Yugoslav People's Army soldiers left the country's soil in 1991 in one of the key events in the process of Slovenia's independence. In their messages on the occasion, the country's top officials evoked the nation's courage, resolve and unity of the time.

Prime Minister Janez Janša, who served as the defence minister at the time of historic events, recalled the spirit of the time, the courage and unity. "History teaches us that nothing is impossible if we stand united as a nation."

"The courage, wise decisions and the Slovenian nation's unity and connectedness through a shared idea allowed us, despite political differences and adversity by some, to win an independent country that generations before us had but dreamed about," said Janša in his written message.

Today's holiday should be a reminder of how unity on a common goal can keep Slovenians strong as a nation, Janša wrote, calling for fostering an awareness that together the nation can defeat what appears to be invincible and achieve what seemed unimaginable only a day ago.

He said that Slovenia's sovereignty and the momentous events almost 30 years ago should not be taken for granted.

"Slovenia did not have allies to lean on in the War of Independence (...) We could only rely on ourselves - our knowledge, abilities, and our resolve to have our homeland. At the same time we also hoped for a little bit of God's blessing," said Janša.

Praising the emerging Slovenian Armed Forces, the Slovenian police and patriots, for defeating the Communist Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), and lauded the courage and bravery displayed at the time.

"It is with deep respect that we watch the footage of hour compatriots from the Vipava Valley and elsewhere taking on JNA tanks with naked fists," he said, adding that it took not just civic courage but also wisdom to defeat what at the time was considered the world's tenth most powerful army.

What made the effort even more noble and honourable was that the Slovenians attended to the wounded JNA soldiers on a non-discriminatory basis and did not take revenge on the aggressor soldiers "not even when they were departing with bowed heads", nor did the war result in a massive flight of refugees.

"This made our goal, the realisation of the Slovenian nation's plebiscite decision in favour of an independent and sovereign country even brighter and nobler. It will remain written down in history for ever as proof of the maturity of the Slovenian nation and the courage of its soldiers," said Janša.

Similarly, Parliamentary Speaker Zorčič remembered the courage and the commitment to the same goals and values displayed at the time, but he also called on the nation to demonstrate the same resolve, confidence, understanding, solidarity and unity in taking on the coronavirus pandemic.

He said that the Slovenians were being weakened in their fight against the unprecedented pandemic "not just by its underrating, but also by our disunity over the measures against it" and the creation of false impression by some that those measures were aimed at suppressing democracy.

"Today, we are fighting a new, invisible enemy that we will not surrender to. The uneasiness of masks will not move into our hearts. It is time that like 29 years ago we proved again our ability to be strong, confident, understanding and sympathetic," the speaker said in his message.

The public holiday, which is not a work-free day, was declared by the National Assembly in 2015 in remembrance of the day in 1991 when the last remaining Yugoslav Army soldiers departed from the port of Koper aboard a ship.

The withdrawal is considered one of the final steps in the independence efforts, coming after Slovenia declared independence on 26 June, whereupon the Ten-Day War broke out when the Yugoslav Army launched attacks from its barracks on 27 June.

The armed conflict was followed by talks which resulted in Slovenia agreeing to a three-month moratorium on independence implementation as part of what is known as the Brijuni Declaration.

As the moratorium was about to expire, Yugoslavia's authorities realised it would be impossible to keep Slovenia in the federation. Preparations thus started for the army's withdrawal from Slovenian territory.

The stated purpose of the holiday is to stress and emphasise the importance of Slovenia's sovereignty and to strengthen the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

There was no formal ceremony this year but President Borut Pahor address the people alongside the military commander of the Territorial Defence during the independence war, Janez Slapar, and the Chief of the General Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces, Brigadier General Robert Glavaš.

25 Oct 2020, 11:00 AM

STA, 25 October 2020 - Today is the first Sunday that almost all shops must remain closed in accordance with an amendment to the retail act that the National Assembly passed in late September.

The exemptions to the blanket ban include shops under 200 m2 at service stations, border crossings, ports, airports, train and bus stations, and hospitals.

Outside these facilities, shops with a surface area of under 200 m2 may open, but only shop owners, students and pensioners may work Sundays, regular employees may not.

The legislation was passed in a bid to give retail workers more free time and has been welcomed by retail trade unions.

Retailers, however, have said this may lead to massive layoffs as turnover declines. The Chamber of Commerce (TZS) said it would seek a constitutional review of the legislation.

Some retailers, including the country's no. 1 grocer Mercator, have decided to replace shop closures with Sunday deliveries of online orders.

The TZS said the retail act amendments limit the opening hours of shops but does not affect the working hours of employees.

The Economy Ministry has said that online sales were a type of remote commerce that is not covered by the retail act amendment.

Trade unions insist that this is an attempt to bypass the intention of the law, which is to give workers Sundays off.

25 Oct 2020, 10:46 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 23 October 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Calls for solidarity with social victims of the crisis

STA, 23 October 2020 – The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest commentary that the numbers showing the social crisis brought by coronavirus are as horrifying and painful as the numbers of the infected, hospitalised and deceased. It adds that one must not express solidarity to patients without expressing solidarity to people who have been impacted in other ways.

"We cannot build the fight against the epidemic on the daily count of the infected, hospitalised and deceased. Of course, these numbers are important...but betting on these numbers distorts the picture. Other numbers hidden behind these numbers."

Under the headline In the Name of the Coming Weeks, Grega Repovž, the editor-in-chief of the left-leaning weekly, adds that the entire industry of socialisation, entertainment and recreation was halted last week in order to reduce the number of persons affected by coronavirus.

"The number of people without income, without means of subsistence drastically increased this week. These numbers are as horrifying and painful," Repovž says, adding that solidarity should also be expressed to these people.

The government has failed to prepare itself for this form of crisis in the past months, and now this problem may be solved only with humaneness and love. "This sounds cheesy and cheap, but it is not. If we want to solve what is coming, we badly need sentient people at all levels."

Repovž wonders whether Slovenians are aware at all how terrifying a social bomb is ticking as the "state has failed, and municipalities are pretending they have nothing to do with it," as there are no funds to finance rents and there is no additional welfare.

He also notes that it was politics which has taken the decisions which now reflect in all these numbers, and that society only followed it by default as it has limited power in the relation with politics.

"Politics is now telling us that it is best for us to point fingers at each other. Let's not fall for this trick. They are doing this in order to mask their own responsibility," concludes the commentary.

Demokracija: Mainstream media promoting resistance against government

STA, 22 October 2020 – The right-wing weekly Demokracija says in Thursday's commentary that Slovenian mainstream media encourage opponents of restrictive measures while promoting resistance against the government.

"The epidemiological situation in Slovenia is progressively worse while the media mainstream promotes the conduct of [rapper Zlatan] Čordić and company who encourage boycotting masks and the application for tracing infected persons, and promote resistance to the centre-right government in these difficult times," says the editorial Born (and Raised) for Violence.

"It seems (and it is probably not far from the truth) that they genuinely want the virus to murder as many Slovenians as possible so that they can point their fingers at the faces at Gregorčičeva Street."

"And when someone from the government reacts, condemns their behaviour, they scream about attacks on media freedom and stories about the establishment of totalitarianism on the sunny side of the Alps are flying around the world, travelling to all possible and impossible addresses of (ideologically kidnapped) international progressive (media) associations."

The paper notes that these media are, however, not reporting on last week's attack on the Nova24 cameraman. "This would not be in line with political correctness and the maimed ideology of liberal democracy. It is allowed to beat the conservative-oriented (rightist, if you will), until exhaustion, is it not?"

According to the commentator, it is perhaps time that "good and peace-loving people no longer (just) pass olive branches. And that the principle Vim vi expellere licet [it is permitted to expel force with force] is not just dead ink on paper."

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25 Oct 2020, 04:12 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

Daily coronavirus incidence and deaths reach new records

LJUBLJANA - A record 7,025 tests were performed on Friday, with a record 1,961 coming back positive, pushing the positivity rate to a record 27.91%. Moreover, 19 people with coronavirus died, the highest daily death number yet, bringing the total coronavirus death tally to 235. The number of active cases climbed to 13,021, according to tracker Covid-19.Sledilnik. 449 were in hospital, with 63 requiring intensive care, the Health Ministry said.

More businesses closing as lockdown tightens

LJUBLJANA - Most establishments that offer their goods and services to customers in person shut down as new restrictions come into force in Slovenia to slow down the coronavirus outbreak. Under the decree adopted by the government on Thursday, the country returned to the top level of lockdown restrictions, similar to those valid during the first wave in spring. Establishments that had already been closed were joined by hotels, spas, beauty and hair salons, swimming pools, car washes, casinos, cinemas and other cultural institutions.

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Slovenia expands coronavirus red list of countries

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's government updated the classification of coronavirus safe and unsafe countries on Friday. As of Monday, Serbia will no longer be on the green list, while a number of regions, including those neighbouring on Slovenia have been red-listed, meaning that quarantine is required unless the passenger produces a recent negative test. The red list now includes the whole of Austria bar the province of Carinthia, as well as 14 Italian regions, including Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Moreover, eight Croatian regions have been added to the red list, including the capital, while the regions of Istria and Primorsko-goranska remain orange. As many as 16 region in Hungary have also been red-listed, among them Budapest and the two regions neighbouring Slovenia.

Slovenia welcomes announced normalisation of relations between Sudan and Israel

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia welcomed the announced normalization of relations between Israel and Sudan. In a tweet, the Foreign Ministry labelled it an "important step towards Sudan's democratic transition as well as sustainable peace and stability in the Middle East". The response comes a day after US President Donald Trump announced on Friday that Sudan would soon normalise its relations with Israel, thus becoming the third Arab country to do so after similar deals were formed weeks earlier with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Slovenia highlights role of multilateralism on UN 75th anniversary

LJUBLJANA - The best way to tackle current global threats remains multilateralism and responsible conduct of UN members, said the Foreign Ministry ahead of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, observed on Saturday. A lack of multilateral cooperation would lead to more difficulties in solving problems and facing up to ubiquitous challenges, it added.

Baltic foreign ministers and Belarus opposition leader in self-isolation after meeting Logar

LJUBLJANA - The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya are self-isolating after meeting Slovenia's Foreign Minister Anže Logar earlier this week, the French press agency AFP reports on Saturday. Logar tested positive for coronavirus on Friday, upon return from a three-day tour of the Baltics. Estonia's Urmas Reinsalu, Latvia's Edgars Rinkevičs and Lithuania's Linas Linkevičius are all feeling well, the AFP also said.

Civil Protection boss no longer in charge of operations office

LJUBLJANA - Srečko Šestan, the commander of the Civil Protection Authority, is no longer at the helm of the operations office of the Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, a move that, the Defence Ministry said, aimed to unburden Šestan, allowing him to fully focus on the management of the authority. The ministry says that the move is in no way a show is distrust in Šestan, who will now also become a member of Defence Minister Matej Tonin's cabinet.

Independence War veterans and police officers criticise political and social situation

LJUBLJANA - Independence War Veterans and the Sever Union of Police Associations expressed criticism of the political and social situation in Slovenia on the eve of Sovereignty Day, the national holiday observed on Sunday commemorating the day when the last Yugoslav People's Army soldiers left the territory of Slovenia in 1991. Slovenia "must remain one of the core countries of Europe and not one of the authoritatively run countries whose only measure of success is corruption and increasing the differences in wealth and social power among the wealthy political elites."

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24 Oct 2020, 15:07 PM

STA, 24 October 2020 - Friday was a day of grim records in Slovenia's fight against the coronavirus. A record 7,025 tests were performed, with a record 1,961 coming back positive, pushing the positivity rate to a record 27.91%. Moreover, 19 people with coronavirus died yesterday, the highest daily death number yet.

While 17 people died in hospital, two more died in nursing homes, the Health Ministry said. This brought the total coronavirus death tally to 235.

The government initially said that 1,963 cases had been confirmed, this was later corrected by spokesman Jelko Kacin, who tweeted that 1,961 had been confirmed. He also said that they were still collecting information on deaths from nursing homes.

The number of active cases climbed to 13,021, according to tracker Covid-19.Sledilnik. 449 were in hospital, with 63 requiring intensive care, the Health Ministry said.

By far the highest number of active cases has been reported in Gorenjska (979), followed by Koroška (704) and central Slovenia (631), data from Covid-19.Sledilnik show.

Kacin also tweeted that the number of tests performed continues to increase and that the pressure on labs is immense. So far, 21,274 have been confirmed since testing began in spring.

Milan Krek, the director of the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ), told the STA today the high figures do not come unexpected, while Bojana Beović, the head of the government Covid-19 task force, told Radio Slovenija they would climb higher still.

Krek said NIJZ had prepared for the second wave, increasing its capacities, so that epidemiologists are now able to call over 1,000 people a day.

Meanwhile, Beović said manner of testing may change in the future due to the high number of positive tests, "because this is impossible work", while hospitalisations provide an insight into what is happening.

She said the task force was not considering additional measures at this point because restrictions put in place recently should have to suffice.

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