New coronavirus cases more than double on Sunday to 2,515
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 2,515 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, an increase of 150% on the week before and the highest Sunday figure since the start of the pandemic. About 48% of all PCR tests were positive, the highest case positivity rate in the current wave of the pandemic. The 14-day case notification rate per 100,000 people was up by 85 to 1,719. The number of Covid patients in hospital rose by 35 to 572, whereas ICU cases dropped by four to 157.
New push for vaccination as Omicron prevails
LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Janez Poklukar announced a new vaccination campaign for later this week as the country braces for a surge in the Omicron-driven wave of infections and potential disruption. In a bid to get as many people as possible vaccinated with first, second and booster jabs, vaccination centres will be again open from 8am to 8pm between Thursday and Saturday with no prior appointments required. "Omicron has practically supplanted Delta in a good fortnight," Poklukar said.
Digital markets agreement among presidency top achievements
LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek considers a political agreement on the digital markets act as the crowning achievement of the Slovenian EU presidency in areas under his purview. The legislation is a milestone in creating a more open, competitive and fair digital market in the EU, he said at a news conference. The proposal still needs to be endorsed by the European Parliament, and the agreement, reached last November, is a starting point for talks between EU member states and the European Parliament.
Improving working conditions seen as major achievement of EU presidency
LJUBLJANA - Contribution to improving working conditions in the EU was highlighted as Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj presented the achievements of Slovenia's EU presidency in his department. He noted that a final agreement had been reached on the protection of workers against carcinogens, and major steps taken on two directives on wages. "The Slovenian presidency put people at the centre when it comes to employment, social policy and equal opportunities," he said.
Inquiry urges resignations of interior minister, both state secretaries
LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary commission investigating suspicion of political interference in the work of police adopted an interim report and a resolution proposing the National Assembly urge Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and both of his state secretaries, Franc Kangler and Božo Predalič, to resign, as it met behind closed doors. Over the past six months, the commission has interviewed 20 witnesses. Its chair Rudi Medved from the opposition LMŠ told the press after today's session the interviews and the documents the commission obtained had confirmed that in the Slovenian police, things are done under the dictate of politics.
Šarec denies previous govt was slow in responding to epidemic
LJUBLJANA - Former PM Marjan Šarec, now an opposition MP, denied the allegations about his government being slow to react to Covid-19 developments in early 2020, as he appeared before a coalition-led parliamentary inquiry looking into the Marjan šarec government's handling of the first stages of the coronavirus epidemic. Asked whether his government had declared epidemic too late , he said it had acted in line with the little information on the coronavirus available at the time. The epidemic was declared on 12 March 2020, a day after a new government was sworn in.
Slovenian ECA candidate assures MEPs of political independence
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Jorg Kristijan Petrovič, Slovenia's candidate for the European Court of Auditors (ECA), assured MEPs of his political independence and impartiality as his hearing before the European Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control focused on why his bid was turned down on a Slovenian parliamentary committee in October. Petrovič, who has served as first deputy president of the Slovenian Court of Audit since 2013, was nominated by the government for the post in October even though the parliamentary EU Affairs Committee voted against the proposal.
Mayors considering own party, not ruling out general election bid
ŠENTJUR - 57 of Slovenia's 212 mayors gathered in Šentjur, east of Celje, to form a Club of Independent Mayors upon the initiative of Kočevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilič. The idea is to form an alliance to make a mark in this year's super election year in Slovenia, but the club is yet to decide how to take part in each of the three elections. Hrastnik Mayor Marko Funkl said their ambition was to become the largest such group in Slovenia and a major factor in bringing together the three existing associations of local communities. They also intend to push to scrap the ban on mayors to serve as MPs.
NGO pushing for repeal of several recent laws
LJUBLJANA - The 8 March Institute, one of the NGOs that initiated a referendum on changes to the waters act last year, presented a proposal to "do away with harmful government measures" in education, police, environment protection and transport. The NGO will collect signatures in support of a bill repealing eleven pieces of legislation. Signatures of support will be collected in a six-week campaign, and the goal is to collect at least 60,000 signatures, said the NGO's head Nika Kovač.
Slovenian PEN centre expresses support to Assange
LJUBLJANA - The board of the Slovenian PEN centre unanimously elected Julian Assange an honorary member of the centre on 3 January, saying today that this step had been taken in the hope that its backing, alongside international support, will help Assange on his judicial journey. PEN Slovenia praised Assange as "the most courageous journalist and publicist of the last two decades, for which he is paying an extremely high personal and professional price".
Voter approval rating for govt at 14-month high in Delo poll
LJUBLJANA - The voter approval rating for the government has improved to the highest level since November 2020 in the latest Delo poll, which also shows a third of respondents undecided or unhappy about the given choice of parliamentary parties. Among the parties that won at least 1% in the previous election, the ruling Democrats (SDS) continue to be the preferred choice (18.4%, followed by the opposition Social Democrats (10.7%), the Left (7.6%), the Marjan Šarec List (6.1%), the Alenka Bratušek Party (5.2%) and the junior coalition New Slovenia (4.7%).
Slovenia one of safest countries in terms of murder rate
LJUBLJANA - A total of 32 murders or attempted murders were recorded in Slovenia last year, one of the lowest numbers in recent years. Statistics and surveys show that Slovenia remains one of the safest countries in Europe and globally in terms of murder. In the 1990s, criminal investigators dealt with up to 100 murders and attempted murders a year. After 2000, the number dropped to 60 to 80 cases, while it has been at around 40 cases per year since 2007.
Izola voters reject sweeping spatial plan
IZOLA - Voters in the coastal municipality of Izola rejected a spatial plan that would have opened up large swathes of the coastal municipality to development, including on prime agricultural land. Sunday's referendum vote was 72% against and 28% in favour. The key points of the plan were construction of housing and public space on the site of two former factories, expansion of the local hospital, and, most controversially, the development of about seven hectares of agricultural land just outside the city limits.
Slovenian researcher gets EUR 2.2 million ERC grant
LJUBLJANA - The European Research Council (ERC) has granted EUR 2.2 million in funding to a project in which Anna Dragoš from the Biotechnical Faculty at the University of Ljubljana will research the virus-bacteria interaction. The project PHAGECONTROL - Development of Host Manipulation by Bacteriophage will study how viruses can change the behaviour of bacteria, the molecular mechanisms responsible for these changes, and whether viruses change the behaviour of bacteria because they are cooperating or because they are manipulators.
Industrial output up in November
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's industrial output was up by 2.8% in November compared to October, by 10.1% compared to November 2020, and by 8.7% compared to the pre-pandemic November 2019. Output was up in mining and quarrying, and in manufacturing, the Statistics Office said.
Cross-Country World Cup events in Planica cancelled
LJUBLJANA - The organising committee for the FIS Cross-Country World Cup events scheduled to take place in the Planica Nordic Centre in Slovenia on 22 and 23 January cancelled the competition, citing the steep rise in coronavirus infections in the country as the reason. The venue in north-western Slovenia was scheduled to host the men's and women's classical sprint on 22 January and the men's 30km and women's 15km skiathlon on 23 January.
Pogačar to compete in France and Spain this year, eyeing Giro in 2023
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian cyclist Tadej Pogačar, currently the best in the world, confirmed he will be defending his two consecutive Tour de France titles this year and compete in the Vuelta a Espana, and could perhaps appear in another Grand Tour race, the Giro d'Italia, next year. Speaking at a videoconference, the 23-year-old his UAE Team Emirates had filled up his competitive calendar to the "maximum". The first test for him this year will be the UAE Tour on 20-26 February.