27 Sep 2020, 13:49 PM

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...

STA, 27 September - Out of a total of 1,917 coronavirus tests performed in Slovenia on Saturday, 159 came back positive, while one person died, the government said on Sunday. The share of positive tests reached a record high of 8.29%.

The national Covid-19 tracker shows that there are currently 1,648 active infections in the country, with 17 patients in intensive care.

A total of 80 coronavirus patients were hospitalised yesterday and 15 were discharged, the government said. A total of 5,350 coronavirus cases were confirmed in Slovenia so far in 217,448 tests, while 147 people died.

Government speaker Jelko Kacin expressed concern with the most recent data, saying Sunday afternoon that the government may soon adopt additional measures, maybe already today. He did not, however, say what these could entail.

Yesterday, the largest number of cases was confirmed in Ljubljana (19), followed by Maribor (18), with the second largest city in the country also having the most active cases in Slovenia, as 113 cases were confirmed there in the past fortnight.

Meanwhile, the largest share of active infections per capita was seen in Črna na Koroškem (nearly 1%), Log-Dragomer and Pivka (around 0.5% each).

Črna na Koroškem has developed into a hotspot after an infection was confirmed at the local CUDV centre for persons with disabilities a week ago. By yesterday, 32 people with disabilities and 15 members of staff of the CUDV tested positive.

Slovenia loosening coronavirus travel restrictions

STA, 27 September 2020 - The government has decided to loosen coronavirus travel restrictions for passengers arriving from countries which are not on Slovenia's green list. As of Monday, passengers with a negative test no older than 48 hours and performed by a credible lab either in Slovenia, the EU or the Schengen zone, will not have to quarantine.

Moreover, passengers arriving from orange countries within the EU or the Schengen zone will not have to present a negative test to avoid quarantine, the government decided in a correspondence session on Saturday.

The government's Communication Office said in a press release that the changes were made based on recommendations from the EU.

What has so far been dubbed the yellow list was renamed the orange list last night. The office said that it contained countries whose epidemiological situation was deteriorating. Countries not listed as either green, meaning safe, or red, meaning high-risk, are considered orange.

Government speaker Jelko Kacin said Sunday afternoon that changes to the orange list were being coordinated and that the government would approve an updated orange list soon.

In the evening, the government said it green-listed Serbia, while parts of Croatia along the border with Slovenia were moved to the orange list from the red.

On the other hand, parts of Austria (Vienna, Vorarlberg and Tirol) and Hungary (Budapest and Gyor-Moson-Sopron), as well as parts of several other EU countries, were red-listed.

Many of the exemptions to travel restrictions remain in place, allowing several groups of people to avoid quarantine even when entering Slovenia from an orange or red-listed country without a negative test.

This will be the case for workers commuting across the border, hauliers, diplomats, foreign delegations, foreign security services employees, members of the Slovenian armed and police forces, as well as people travelling for urgent personal or business matters, and people who own property in a neighbouring country.

Moreover, the government decided that persons who test negative after having been ordered to quarantine will be allowed to cut short their quarantine.

The changes will be explained in more detail at a press conference on Monday, Kacin said.

27 Sep 2020, 10:52 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 25 September 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Education Ministry rebuked for situation at schools

STA, 25 September 2020 – Mladina, the left-wing weekly, criticises the government and Education Ministry for "sending the education system into the corona-autumn completely unprepared". It says in Friday's editorial that all staff at schools, not just teachers, are on the verge of exhaustion and that the system could easily collapse.

No additional teachers and kitchen or cleaning staff - vital to keep the system going in the difficult times - was hired, the idea for teaching in shifts was not examined and no plan was made to adjust teaching for individual subjects in case face masks have to be worn, says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž.

Talking with a face mask for six hours in a classroom is hard and calls for adjustment. "But how could have the ministry made the plan when it had claimed there would be no masks," the editor wonders.

"The ministry has let schools down," he says, adding that teachers who cannot wear masks for health reasons were given no concessions, and while healthcare workers are entitled to coronavirus testing, no such testing was provided for teachers.

Instead of providing masks free of charge for teachers and children, the government provided 500,000 disposable masks for the entire education system. The figure is bizzarely low, given that 200,000 children and youth go to school every day, whereas masks free of charge are said to be provided to small businesses.

Mladina says Education Minister Simona Kustec should not resign because of a minor mistake of not wearing a mask at a gala dinner, but so that somebody who is up to the challenge takes over at her office.

The entire government has failed to deliver, with the education system breaking down three weeks after the new school year started, and a similar fiasco can be observed in other systems, such as public transport, Mladina says.

It suffices to look at healthcare to see what education is in for. While doing nothing to prepare the healthcare system for the autumn, it is clear already that the government will use the situation to quickly and mercilessly privatise it. Laboratories are the first to go.

Reporter: Slovenian healthcare not public but state-run

STA, 21 September 2020 - The right-wing weekly Reporter is critical of an expected rise of the compulsory healthcare insurance, saying it signals a potential continuation of the decline of the healthcare system even under the centre-right Janez Janša government.

Speaking of continuing systemic issues, Reporter argues in its latest commentary Slovenia does not have public healthcare, but state-run healthcare that prevents access to all the doctors available in the country and to direly needed services in time.

Moreover, the system is rife with corruption, with some of those distributing the public funds also representing those vying for them, the weekly says under The Millionaires and the Victims of 'Public Healthcare'.

"People known best in the public for calls for public healthcare can afford fast and private healthcare...When they are told the waiting line for tests is six months or more, they go to a private doctor and get treatment within a few days.

"The 'small people' in whose name the former ones are raising their voice on the other hand cannot afford this. They can stand in line and hope their condition does not deteriorate drastically in the meantime. This happens after years of paying compulsory insurance in order to have access to healthcare."

All our posts in this series are here

26 Sep 2020, 13:42 PM

STA, 26 September 2020 - Slovenia recorded 184 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, the second highest daily increase since the start of the epidemic, as the share of tests that came back positive rose above 6% for the first time.

The new infections were confirmed in 2,775 tests, meaning that 6.6% of all tests were positive. Yesterday, when a record 192 positive cases were confirmed, there were far more tests conducted and the positive rate was 5.3%.

Of the new cases, two were in nursing homes and twelve in health staff, according to the tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik.

The number of hospital admissions has surged. There are now 72 people in hospital, up from 60 yesterday. The number of patients in intensive care rose by one to 17, of whom 13 were on ventilators.

One fatality was recorded, bringing the death toll to 146.

New cases were recorded in 79 municipalities across the country, with the region around Ljubljana, Notranjska and Koroška standing out in terms of pace of growth.

The bulk of the new cases were in the age group 25-44, but there were also eleven in those under 14 and 13 in those over 65.

Slovenia has so far recorded 5,191 confirmed cases in over 215,000 tests. There are nearly 1,600 active cases at present, according to Covid-19 Sledilnik.

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...

Switzerland puts Slovenia on quarantine list

STA, 25 September 2020 - Switzerland has become the latest European country to impose a mandatory quarantine on travellers from Slovenia effective on Monday. A total of 15 countries have been put on the quarantine list, which now includes 59 countries.

The Swiss quarantine list includes countries which have recorded over 60 new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 14-day period, French news agency AFP reported on Friday.

Slovenia is currently at roughly 68 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants after cases started surging in mid-September. Today it reported a record 192 new cases in a single day.

UK imposed a quarantine on all travellers from Slovenia last week, while Germany put one region, Notranjsko-Primorska, on its red list earlier this week.

26 Sep 2020, 13:34 PM

STA, 25 September 2020 - Ivan Gale, the man who came forward with accusations of flawed procurement of medical supplies during the first wave of coronavirus in Slovenia, is reportedly facing the threat of losing his job at the Agency for Commodity Reserves.

The public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported that Gale was summoned by the agency's director Tomi Rumpf for an interview before he is handed a dismissal notice on suspicion that he closed detrimental contracts for the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Another charge against him is inappropriate communication with the media.

The report said that the agency's former director Anton Zakrajšek and his deputy Alojz Černe, who signed most of the contracts for the acquisition of PPE, had also been summoned to explain themselves in the face of allegations of wrongdoing.

Gale has become one of the faces of Friday's anti-government protests after speaking out for TV Slovenia in April about allegedly contentious deals at the agency involving PPE and other medical supplies.

He filed criminal complaints against the agency's current director Rumpf and Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek in early August alleging wasteful use of public funds under a contract with Hmezad TMT for the supply of face masks.

Gale filed another criminal complaint against the minister in late August alleging at least EUR 1.2 million in damage to public funds as a result of a deal with the company Acron.

The Agency for Commodity Reserves said certain procedures were under way in line with applicable law and based on the findings of an audit of past activities.

It confirmed three employees were subject to these procedures, but these were "in no way connected with the public actions of individuals or the public disclosure of individual cases of purchases of medical and protective equipment."

Soon after Gale went public with his accusations some pointed out that it was in fact Gale who had signed multiple contentious contracts while he was standing in for Anton Zakrajšek.

Speaking for TV Slovenija, Gale said one of the allegations against him was that he forged an order form in April for logistic services which were performed and paid.

He said the accusations against him were unfounded and announced that he would seek recourse in court. "I have the feeling these are acts of revenge against me."

26 Sep 2020, 12:02 PM

What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 18 September
        LJUBLJANA - The increased level of new coronavirus infections persisted and the latest daily all-time high in Slovenia was reported for 17 September when 137 out of 3,557 swabs came back positive. The figure did not escalate in the following days, with 122 new cases reported for 23 September when the country had 1,427 active cases. The number of those in hospital remained stable, at 63 on 24 September, with 13 patients in intensive care. There were nine deaths between 17 and 23 September, raising the total toll to 145.
        LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar expressed solidarity with Greece concerning migrations and relations with Turkey as he hosted his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias. Dendias thanked him for the support and welcomed Slovenia's desire to join the MED7 group. During what was the first visit by a Greek foreign minister in ten years, Logar and Dendias agreed to enhance their communication in the future.
        LJUBLJANA/NEW YORK, US - President Borut Pahor addressed via videoconference the UN's global summit on the sustainable development goals until 2030, saying that the "2030 Agenda offers a better future for billions of people around the world and for our planet as a whole". The virtual summit is a slimmed-down event due to Covid-19. Slovenia was selected due to its regular and transparent reporting on the implementation of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda.
        LJUBLJANA/BRUSSELS, Belgium - The Foreign Ministry sent to the OSCE the nomination of ex-Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel for the post of OSCE media rep after endorsing it earlier. However, Ricardo Gutierrez, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) general secretary, expressed concern over it, pointing to a contentious letter Rupel and former constitutional judge Peter Jambrek addressed to The Guardian after the UK paper published a critical article about Slovenian PM Janez Janša.
        LJUBLJANA - Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said that for Slovenia's climate strategy until 2050 to be implemented, a series of action plans coordinated between various sectors would be needed. He said it was very important that Slovenia was setting zero net emissions or climate neutrality as an objective for the mid-century.
        LJUBLJANA - The 22nd consecutive Friday protests against government policies took aim at Interior Minister Aleš Hojs as he was facing the ouster motion in parliament and highlighted several environmental issues that protesters said were indicative of current government policy.

SATURDAY, 19 September
        LJUBLJANA - Aleš Hojs remained interior minister after a motion of no-confidence tabled by four centre-left opposition parties was defeated in a 38-43 vote. After a meeting Hojs held with PM Janez Janša two days later, it was also clear Hojs would remain interior minister. He told the STA that Janša had returned him the envelope with his resignation, which he tendered in late June.
        LJUBLJANA - The Finance Committee adopted the revised national budget for 2020 as the last parliamentary body before the plenary with the opposition voicing concern over the rising expenditure that will have to be paid eventually.
        GLOBASNITZ, Austria - Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič joined his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka for a memorial ceremony in Austria's Globasnitz honouring the victims of a Nazi attack on a Slovenian farm in 1945.
        LJUBLJANA - Face masks became mandatory outdoors in cases when it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres.

SUNDAY, 20 September
        PARIS, France - Slovenia's rider Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), 21, crossed the finish line of the Tour de France as the winner, a historic feat for Slovenian sport. His compatriot Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), throughout the race an undisputed favourite, had to conceded overall victory to Pogačar after a surprise twist in the only time trial of the race.
        PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Slovenia's slalom canoeist Benjamin Savšek defended his European champion title having beaten his rivals in the C1 final of the European Canoe Slalom Championships, and so did the men's C1 team.

MONDAY, 21 September
        PARIS, France - President Borut Pahor held a working meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron focussing on the future of the EU, its neighbourhood, and bilateral relations. Closer cooperation was agreed, both personally and at the level of the two countries, Pahor said, announcing that "circumstances permitting", he could host Macron in Slovenia before the end of the year.
        NEW YORK, US - President Borut Pahor reiterated Slovenia's commitment to multilateral cooperation in the framework of the United Nations and other international and regional organisations, as he delivered a video address to a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the organisation.
        LJUBLJANA - International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach praised Slovenia as a true giant in sports, as he met some of Slovenia's athletes aspiring to attend the Tokyo Olympics. He met PM Janez Janša and Sports Minister Simona Kustec, saying the prime minister and his government were aware of the important role sport plays in society, especially during the health crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition, led by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), filed a motion of no-confidence in Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec, a member of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS). The motion alleges risk of corruption, violation of integrity rules and concealment of public interest facts. DeSUS deputy group head Franc Jurša meanwhile announced the coalition would lose DeSUS's support if Pivec, who stepped down recently as DeSUS leader, remained minister.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša announced more oversight over the system of social transfers as he was quizzed in parliament. Many of the loopholes in the current legislation will be fixed with changes to the foreigners act, he said.
        LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - Most parties lost ground in September's Vox Populi poll, conducted by Ninamedia for the newspapers Večer and Dnevnik, but the senior coalition Democrats (SDS) remain on top, followed somewhat closer than before by the opposition Social Democrats (SD) and Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ).
        LJUBLJANA - The SPS trade union, one of the two representing Slovenian police officers, called on parliament to provide a clear interpretation of an act determining the relations between the Interior Ministry and the police force. The move comes in the wake of escalating tensions between Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and police.
TUESDAY, 22 September
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj and Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik held talks with EU commissioners and Slovenian MEPs as part of preparations for Slovenia's presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2021. Cigler Kralj announced efforts to ensure a responsive labour market and quality elderly care would be the presidency's social affairs priorities, while Koritnik noted a focus on AI and digitalisation.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan stressed the importance of member states remaining united in conducting Brexit negotiations with the UK as he attended a meeting of EU affairs ministers in Brussels. He warned that the internal market bill was a grave violation of the UK's requirements stemming from the Brexit agreement.
        LJUBLJANA - Education Minister Simona Kustec came under fire for appearing at a sports gala at which the guests were not wearing masks. The charity event was organised by the Slovenian Olympic Committee, featuring top Slovenian sports officials and business executives. Opposition parties as well the teachers' trade union called on the minister to step down. Kustec apologised and said she would get tested for Covid-19 out of precaution.
        LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Tomaž Gantar said that about 60% of Slovenia's population or about 1.2 million people were expected to get vaccinated against Covid-19 when a vaccine becomes available. Gantar cited an internal survey showing that about 55% of employees and 69% of residents of care homes expressed the desire to be vaccinated.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium/LJUBLJANA - The European Commission gave Croatia's Fortenova a concentration approval to transfer the Slovenian retailer Mercator from insolvent Agrokor, which still needs an approval from Mercator bank creditors and the Serbian anti-trust watchdog. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek suggested the state would not oppose the transfer, provided agreement is reached with Slovenian suppliers of Mercator.

WEDNESDAY, 23 September
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry singled out the mandatory solidarity mechanism as the main area of concern after the European Commission unveiled the draft of a new migration and asylum pact. Slovenia expected the plan "would involve more balanced proposals," Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksander Geržina said. FM Anže Logar said earlier in the week that Slovenia would continue to oppose mandatory distribution of migrants. PM Janez Janša tweeted on Thursday that those "in Slovenia or the EU" who think they can force others into accepting migrants should first accommodate "at least two" in their own house.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly adopted the supplementary budget for 2020, which raises expenditure by EUR 3 billion or 29% in the face of the coronacrisis while slashing revenue by almost 15%. With a deficit of 9.3% of GDP, the budget earmarks EUR 2.6 billion, 19% of all expenditure, for measures meant to mitigate the crisis. PM Janez Janša acknowledged the deficit, at roughly EUR 4.2 billion, was high, but he added the spending was prudent and positioned the Slovenian economy for a recovery.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to fully deregulate fuel prices in Slovenia. It said prices were unlikely to increase since new discount providers may enter the market. Some other stakeholders however voiced reservations, describing the move as a handout to oil firms at the expense of consumers. Coming in the wake of the decision was the news that Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak is being investigated by the securities market regulator for potential insider trading, having bought EUR 120,000 worth of shares of fuel company Petrol in the spring.
        LJUBLJANA - IMAD, the government's macroeconomic forecaster, upgraded its GDP projections for this year. Instead of a 7.6% contraction at the annual level predicted in summer, it now expects the economy to shrink by 6.7%. However, its autumn forecast warns that uncertainty remains high. The economy is forecast to grow by 5.1% next year and by 3.7% in 2022 when it could reach pre-pandemic levels.
        LJUBLJANA - Trade union representatives walked out of a meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ESS) amidst a debate on new anti-coronavirus legislation. The unions' proposal that the government adopt only the measures which have been coordinated with social partners at the coming session was turned down, said Jakob Počivavšek of the Pergam association.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left tabled a bill in a bid to levy a 7% digital services tax on multinational tech companies, which generate EUR 100 million in turnover in Slovenia per year but pay almost zero tax. Given that their turnover is expected to continue to rise, the Left's leader Luka Mesec said that the tax could raise some EUR 10 million for the budget next year.
        STRASBOURG, France - The Croatian, German and Serbian languages should be recognised as minority languages traditionally spoken in Slovenia, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe said in its latest recommendations. It also called for sufficient funding for television programmes in the Hungarian and Italian languages and for fostering the Roma language.
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to relax the recently imposed 10:30pm curfew on bars and restaurants. The guests of establishments that serve "simple food, drinks and beverages", such as bars or patisseries, will have 30 minutes to leave the establishment and the guests of establishments serving "more complex dishes" will have an hour to clear out.
        LJUBLJANA - Day of Slovenian Sports was marked for the first time in memory of the first Olympic gold medals won for the independent country in Sydney in 2000. Addressing the main ceremony in Ljubljana's Congress Square, President Borut Pahor noted the importance of sports for health, the country's promotion and for national unity.
THURSDAY, 24 September
        LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed the fifth stimulus package. Chief among the measures is an extension of the furlough scheme until year's end for all industries. The eligibility criteria will however be stricter, Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said. The package also includes universal basic income for sole traders, and extra funding for health services. Moreover the power to issue fines for violations of protective measures is meant to be extended from the Health Inspectorate to the police and municipal wardens.
        LJUBLJANA/NEW YORK, US - Addressing the first ever virtual gathering of world leaders for the UN General Assembly session, President Borut Pahor argued for effective multilateralism, concluding his speech by quoting novelist Boris Pahor, who says humanity has enough wisdom and power to lead the world out of crisis.
        LJUBLJANA - Addressing an online ministerial of the Central European Initiative (CEI), Foreign Minister Anže Logar said Slovenia deemed important solidarity in the EU and the integrity of the internal market, and supported further EU enlargement as well as a coordinated approach to relaxing coronavirus restrictions and restarting the European economy.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium/BERLIN, Germany - Slovenia is among the worst offenders in the EU to have disproportionately restricted freedoms during the Covid-19 pandemic, said a report by Greenpeace and Civil Liberties Union for Europe. It noted that the Slovenian government was among several to have used the fight against the pandemic as an excuse to limit criticism of the administration.
        LJUBLJANA - In a 48:1 vote, the National Assembly backed opposition-sponsored changes to two laws in a bid to limit the activities of self-styled militias which first upset the public two years ago. 35 MPs abstained from voting on what is a second attempt to criminalise uniformed groups parading with what are believed to be replica guns.
        PORTOROŽ - President Borut Pahor called for necessary structural reforms, addressing the opening of the Manager Congress. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek meanwhile highlighted the role of the Managers' Association's action plan to increase productivity, warning that such efforts would necessitate a wider social agreement.
        LJUBLJANA - Mercator Group sales revenue increased by 4.4% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year, to reach EUR 1.06 billion. Due to the revaluation of property and impairments of other assets, and the effects of Covid-19, the retail group posted a loss of EUR 69.2 million in the January-June period. These factors excluded, the group would record a profit of EUR 86,000 on EBITDA that was up by 1.7% year-on-year to EUR 83.4 million.
        LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court announced it had recently suspended the culling of 115 brown bears until its final decision. The relevant permit was issued in June by the Environment Agency (ARSO) for the period until the end of September for several areas in Slovenia where human-bear conflicts are very frequent.

25 Sep 2020, 16:11 PM

STA, 25 September 2020 - The number of new coronavirus infections reached a new high on Thursday, as 192 of the 3,645 tests came back positive, according to government data. The total number of infections recorded so far exceeded 5,000.

A total of 60 Covid-19 patients were in hospital yesterday, 15 of whom needed intensive care. Eleven were discharged from hospital.

No patient with Covid-19 died, leaving the death toll at 145.

The number of tests conducted on Thursday is also record high. So far, 212,756 tests have been conducted, the government said on Twitter.

The Health Ministry told the STA today that the National Institute of Public Health had corrected the figures for Wednesday from 122 to 121, as one case was registered twice.

Thus, 5,007 infections have been confirmed in Slovenia so far.

New cases were recorded throughout the country on Thursday, most in Ljubljana, where almost a quarter of the latest cases was detected (52). Domžale and Črna na Koroškem follow with seven cases each, and Maribor and Celje with six each. Five cases were detected in Slovenske Konjice and four each in Kranj and Medvode.

Currently, 1,509 cases are active in the country, of which 338 are in the capital.

Government Covid-19 spokesperson Jelko Kacin told the press today the government recommended to companies to switch to working from home where this is possible and introduce temperature screenings for employees coming to work.

He said nobody wanted another lockdown and that the government was doing all it could to keep public life and the economy running, and that each individual and company must do their part.

He said the cabinet would wait for the figures for Friday and discuss the situation during the weekend before taking any steps. It also wants to wait for the proposals of its task force which are expected on Monday, when the government is scheduled to hold a formal meeting.

Asked which additional measures are being discussed at this point, Kacin said the government could reduce the number of people that can gather in a public place from 10 to 6.

He also urged against any non-essential private or public gatherings, stressing that the government did not want to introduce any more legal restrictions but was appealing to people to behave in a responsible way.

Asked why an epidemic is not declared now given that the country has a lot more infections than in the spring, the government official said that a lot more was known about the virus now and that many preventive protocols had been put in place since.

Due to a growing demand for swabs taking, community health centres have been expanding their testing points and extending working hours.

Health Ministry adviser Simona Repar Bornšek said after Tuesday's meeting with directors of health centres that from now on all health institution were allowed to conduct testing.

General manager of the UKC Ljubljana hospital Janez Poklukar told the STA today the hospital could accept 105 Covid-19 patients, including 25 in intensive care without interrupting the hospital's regular operations. If more patients will need treatment, some programmes will have to be shut down, he said.

So far, more than 60 of the hospital's staff have also been infected, almost exclusively outside the hospital.

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...

24 Sep 2020, 16:45 PM

STA, 24 September 2020 - Slovenia recorded 122 new coronavirus infections in 2,848 tests on Wednesday. While two patients died, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital remained stable, fresh government data show.

The number of patients in hospital dropped by two to 63, but 13 were in intensive care, three more than the day before.

Two persons with Covid-19 died, increasing the death toll since the start of the epidemic to 145.

Slovenia now has 1,427 active cases out of a total of 4,816 cases confirmed since the start of the pandemic.

New infections were confirmed in 53 municipalities yesterday. Ljubljana recorded 24 new infections, followed by Maribor, Domžale and Črna na Koroškem with eight, and Kranj, Kamnik, Slovenska Bistrica, Pivka and Litija with four cases each.

In the last two weeks, Slovenia recorded 68.4 infections per 100,000 people. 2,526 people are currently quarantined.

Nuška Čakš Jager from the National Institute of Public Heath said most of the infections were community transmissions, while the share of imported cases has been decreasing. Recent imported cases came from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Austria.

Since the virus is spreading throughout Europe, government Covid-19 spokesperson Jelko Kacin said today that in the absence of an EU agreement regarding the crossing of the border, the Slovenian government would have to decide on potential changes to its list of epidemiologically safe countries.

He said he expected Austria and Hungary, which have seen a surge in new infections, could be removed from the list of safe countries.

In Slovenia, the number of infections has been rising among medical staff and in care homes. Currently more women than men are infected and most of the cases are aged between 45 and 54.

Two members of primary school staff and three kindergarten teachers tested positive along with five primary school students, three high school students and two kindergarten children.

One care home resident and one employee tested positive on Wednesday. Infections were also confirmed in three employees and one resident of a centre for persons with disabilities. On Tuesday, the CUDV centre for persons with disabilities in Črna na Koroškem was mentioned as a new hotspot.

A care home in Rogaška Slatina had one resident test positive on Wednesday and one patient receiving palliative care died during the night, the head of the home, Kristina Kampuš, told the STA.

The head of the Danica Vogrinec care home in Maribor, Marko Slavič, told the press today that the institution still had 40 infected residents, 33 of whom have only mild symptoms. Three have been transferred to the hospital, while four of the infected residents have died.

But Slavič said that in the last five years, 50.4 people died on average at the home between January and September. This year 48 people died. "So Covid did not make this situation worse," he said.

No additional infections were confirmed after yesterday's testing, so Slavič thinks the situation is under control.

Currently, 22 members of the home's staff are quarantined. None of them have any health problems and some of the infected have had no symptoms.

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...

23 Sep 2020, 17:26 PM

STA, 23 September 2020 - Slovenia logged 136 new coronavirus cases for Tuesday, the second highest daily tally since the start of the pandemic, as another Covid-19 patient died, fresh government data show.

The latest cases come from 2,616 tests and bring the overall case count to just shy of 4,700, at 4,694, with the number of active cases at 1,383, according to the tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org.

On the upside, Covid-19 hospitalisations fell to 65 after ten patients were discharged home yesterday. Ten patients still require intensive care.

The latest infections include ten health staff, five care home staff and four care home residents.

The bulk of the newly infected (86) are aged between 25 and 54 (30 are 25-34-year-olds, 29 are 45-54-year-olds and 27 aged 35-44 years), and another 22 are aged up to 64.

Five were children up to the age of 14 and 11 are up to 24 year old. Twelve of the infected are 65 and older.

Most of the infections were again recorded the country's largest cities, Ljubljana and Maribor, which now have 304 and 211 active infections, respectively. But infections are scattered country-wide.

The northern region of Koroška saw as many as 18 new cases on Tuesday and now has 57 active infections. The situation was discussed at a session of the regional council today.

Doctor Zdenka Koželj Rekanović told the meeting that sources of infection were almost impossible to establish as many people did not know or would not tell where they had caught the virus.

"The situation is getting out of control epidemiologically, the exponential growth over the past 24 hours showing there are many asymptomatic cases," said Davorin Benko, a doctor heading a team tasked with managing the coronavirus spread in public social and health care institutions in the region.

He warned that some people are wilfully hiding their symptoms.

One of the hotspots in the region is a centre for persons with mental disabilities in Črna na Koroškem, where local media report 14 residents and staff are infected with further test results pending.

Slovenia has so far recorded 143 fatalities related to Covid-19.

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...

23 Sep 2020, 11:50 AM

STA, 22 September 2020 - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan stressed the importance of member states remaining united in conducting Brexit negotiations with the UK as he attended a meeting of EU affairs ministers in Brussels on Tuesday. He warned that the internal market bill was a grave violation of the UK's requirements stemming from the Brexit agreement.

Dovžan moreover said that all the ministers agreed a deal between member states and the European Parliament on the EU's future budget and the recovery fund was necessary as soon as possible.

Discussing the coordination of anti-corona restrictions among EU countries, the state secretary pointed out that it was up to individual member states to impose precaution measures.

He moreover urged the measures to protect public health but also ensure that the internal market and the four freedoms were as unrestricted as possible. A few more rounds of negotiations are needed to reach an agreement on joint guidelines, he added.

22 Sep 2020, 13:15 PM

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...

STA, 22 September 2020 - A total of 2,335 tests for the novel coronavirus were performed in Slovenia on Monday, resulting in 88 new cases, show the latest data from the government. The number of hospitalised patients was up by one to 71, while the number of those requiring intensive care stayed at 13. A dozen people needed ventilators.

Eight Covid-19 patients were discharged from hospital yesterday. There were no deaths, with the death toll remaining at 142.

Slovenia had 1,325 active cases yesterday, according to the national tracker site Covid-19.sledilnik.

New infections were recorded in 39 municipalities. In Ljubljana, 24 more people tested positive, bringing the number of active cases in the capital to almost 300.

Six new cases were detected in Maribor and four each in Celje and Domžale. Only 15 out of the 212 Slovenian municipalities remain coronavirus-free.

On Monday, infections were confirmed with two care home residents and four members of medical staff.

According to government Covid-19 spokesperson Jelko Kacin, the Danica Vogrinec care home in Maribor now has four new infections, bringing the total number to 59. 40 residents and 19 members of staff are infected.

Meanwhile, two new infections were also confirmed at a care home in Rogaška Slatina with a resident and an employee. A total of 25 infections have been recorded there so far, 19 among residents and six among staff.

A new hotspot seems to be the CUDV centre for persons with disabilities in Črna na Koroškem, where three employees tested positive, and another 18 members of the staff and 17 residents were placed in quarantine.

The centre works with some 300 persons with disabilities, 215 of whom live at the centre. The unit where the infections were detected has 150 beds, regional branch of Večer reports.

Bojana Beović, the government's chief Covid-19 adviser, said today that the figures of newly infected people did not mean much if their symptoms were mild. "What undoubtedly shows that the disease is a great burden in Slovenia, and that it is increasing, is the rise in the number of patients who need hospital treatment and intensive care," she said.

Projections show that 250 to 270 people perhaps even 300 will be hospitalised in mid-October, which is cause for concern, because the health system cannot afford another standstill, she said, noting that all efforts would be investment in keeping the healthcare system running.

Currently, Covid-19 patients are being treated at the UKC Ljubljana and Maribor hospitals, the Golnik clinic and the Celje hospital. But since the number of patients is growing, the Nova Gorica, Novo Mesto and Murska Sobota hospitals have also been activated.

The Novo Mesto and Murska Sobota hospitals can accept up to 20 patients each, while 15 beds are expected to be ready for Covid-19 patients in Nova Gorica by the end of the week, according to the hospital's deputy head, Ernest Gortan. The hospital also has five ventilators suitable for Covid-19 patients.

In the 18,339 tests conducted in Slovenia between 14 and 20 September, 721 infections were confirmed; 320 in men and 401 in women, Kacin said today. A total of 49 infections were discovered at care homes, 32 among residents. 74 members of the medical and support staff also tested positive.

Epidemiologists issued 2,526 quarantine orders, and 210 people actually got Covid-19.

The region with the most infections is central Slovenia with 249 cases, followed by Podravje and Savinjska regions with 126 and 114 cases, respectively.

In 454 cases the infection came from a local source, while in 244 cases the source could not be determined.

A total of 16 infections were imported, and another seven cases were related to them. Four people were infected in Austria, three in Germany, two each in Croatia and Italy, and one each in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Czechia, Montenegro and Estonia.

A total of 4,558 cases have been confirmed so far in Slovenia in 203,647 tests.

Poll shows people not very concerned about coronavirus

STA, 21 September 2020 - Although the epidemiological curve in Slovenia has been rising recently, people are not very concerned, the latest Vox Populi poll suggests. The share of respondents who are not concerned by the new coronavirus spreading rose from 13.3% in March to 27.2% in September.

The share of those who are fairly concerned decreased to almost 30% compared to March, when the share was 38%, and the share of those who are quite concerned dropped from 31.2% to 22.1%.

The share of those who are very concerned rose slightly, from 17.5% to 20%, but that did not change the overall situation.

An analysis of responses has shown that women are more concerned by the situation and that the anxiety increases with age.

People also no longer seem to find government-imposed restrictive measures justified. If as many as 70% of respondents assessed government measures as appropriate in March, and a record 75% in April, this percentage dropped to under 45% in September.

The share of people finding anti-corona measures exaggerated has been rising all along. If only 6.5% thought so in March, their share rose to 21.6% in April and climbed to 26.6% in September.

An interesting twist happened with those who deem government measures inadequate. While in March just over 16% thought the authorities should do more to fight the virus, in April and May virtually nobody thought so, but this month 21.2% of the respondents said more measures would be required.

Vox Populi is a survey conducted by Ninamedia for the newspaper Večer and Dnevnik. It was carried out among 700 people between 15 and 17 September.

22 Sep 2020, 12:03 PM

STA, 21 September 2020 - Foreign Minister Anže Logar, who attended a session of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday, told reporters after the session that the EU's new migration pact was eagerly anticipated and that Slovenia would continue to oppose mandatory distribution of migrants, which the country made clear in June.

"We are anxious to see the proposed package, but it is difficult to comment on individual solutions before it is unveiled. We know roughly which way the solutions will go, but this is a very complex matter and the changes are very comprehensive, so I do not dare to comment any further at this point," Logar said after the ministerial, responding to a journalist question about whether Slovenia was happy with the planed solutions.

Seven EU members, including Slovenia, addressed a letter to the European Commission in June, expressing their resolute opposition to compulsory redistribution of migrants among EU member states. The letter was signed by Slovenia, all four Visegrad countries - Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as Estonia and Latvia.

Logar said today the letter made Slovenia's views very clear. "I think the arguments that Slovenia will use in this debate will go along those lines in the future as well," he said.

Asked whether Slovenia would support the new pact, he said that it was impossible to say exactly which way the debate would go at this point.

The new migration pact that the Commission will unveil on Wednesday is expected to be based on a mechanism of obligatory solidarity, which is to include transferring migrants in close connection with returning illegal migrants.

The new approach is said to be more flexible than the solutions which have been on the table so far and which member states failed to find common ground on.

The initiator of the new pact, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, has said that all 27 members states are ready to make concessions.

Logar agrees that a compromise will be found but he stresses it will be within the frameworks of what countries find acceptable.

The Slovenian foreign minister noted this package would be discussed during the German-Portuguese-Slovenian presidency. If no agreement is reached during Portugal's stint, Slovenia will lead the debate, so Logar discussed the matter today with his German counterpart, and the French foreign minister in Paris on Sunday.

Asked about the upcoming report on the rule of law in EU countries, which the Commission is to release on 30 September, Logar said Slovenia was looking forward to the debate on the rule of law and would take active part in it, so that the bloc would have a credible, transparent and fair overview of the situation.

The report will open a dialogue and a quest for a model that would offer an overview of the situation in EU countries in the future as well, Logar said in an on-line press conference.

He added the EU's drawing up the report was a smart way of overcoming the impasse following alleged violations of the rule of law in Poland and Hungary.

Logar also held courtesy meetings with Executive Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans and European Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevičius. He presented them Slovenia's priorities for the upcoming EU presidency from green technologies to water diplomacy.

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