COVID-19 & Slovenia, Afternoon 31 March: Deaths, Masks, Unnecessary Restrictions?, Austria, Hungary

By , 31 Mar 2020, 15:11 PM Politics
"My dears, we'll be drinking coffee later" "My dears, we'll be drinking coffee later" Avtorja: Katja Petrin Dornik, Matija Primc Agencija: Grey Ljubljana

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with ur stories on coronavirus are here, while those covering covid-19 and Croatia are here. We'll have an update at the end of the day, and if you want newsflashes then we'll post those on Facebook

We can’t have pictures of COVID-19 every day. So instead we’ll try and show the works of Slovenian artists, photographers and designers. Today it’s Katja Petrin Dornik, and Matija Primc from the design agency Grey Ljubljana, with part of a series of posters on covid-19, and you see more of them here.

Contents

Four die as number of Covid-19 persons rises by 46 to 802

Slovenia sticking to use of masks in indoor public places

Public health chief thinks latest restrictions not necessary

Seven repatriated from Austria test positive for coronavirus

Two additional border crossings opening on Slovenian-Hungarian border

Four die as number of Covid-19 persons rises by 46 to 802

STA, 31 March 2020 - Slovenia's Covid-19 death toll has risen to 15 as four people died on Monday and Tuesday, the latest government figures released on Tuesday show. The number of new coronavirus cases increased by 46 to 802 after 1,125 persons were tested on Monday.

At least one of the four persons died at the University Clinic of Respiratory and Allergic Diseases at Golnik, according to coronavirus crisis spokesperson Jelko Kacin.

As many as 119 Covid-19 patients were in hospital, of whom 28 were in intensive care, on Monday, when six patients were released from hospital.

The number of persons who have been so far been tested for the virus in Slovenia has risen to 22,474.

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Slovenia sticking to use of masks in indoor public places

STA, 31 March 2020 - Slovenia had made wearing face masks and gloves mandatory in indoor public places such as shops to contain the spread of coronavirus and although the move has been met with some opposition and the World Health Organisation (WHO) does not recommend it, the measure is likely to remain in place.

Face masks and gloves became mandatory in indoor public spaces under a decree that took effect on Monday as Slovenia followed the lead of countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Austria has announced a similar measure as well.

Given the lack of certified face masks, Slovenians have been told to use any other means they can, including home-made cloth masks or scarves.

The move has provoked some opposition, due to people's inability to buy masks in shops and due to the WHO's recent recommendation that people should not wear face masks unless they have been infected Covid-19 or are caring for someone who is sick.

Prime Minister Janez Janša criticised the guidance on Twitter on Monday saying that after the outbreak in China, the WHO had claimed it was unlikely coronavirus would spread to Europe and that the virus did "not cause significantly worse consequences than the flu. "This is why it declared a pandemic TOO LATE."

Appearing at a government press conference on Tuesday, paediatrician Tina Bergant stressed that countries in which wearing face masks is more common had managed to contain coronavirus much faster than countries where face masks in public are uncommon.

"We are doing everything to contain the epidemic and protect the most vulnerable population - the elderly and the chronically ill. These are measures that are not coloured by ideology, they are epidemiologically sound and have been known to medicine for decades, even centuries."

She said WHO guidance was unequivocal: those who are sick and have a runny nose should wear face masks in public, as should those taking care of persons who have been infected. And even for healthy people, use of masks is desired in a public place.

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Public health chief thinks latest restrictions not necessary

STA, 31 March 2020 - The latest government-imposed restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus appear not to have been coordinated with the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ). Acting NIJZ head Ivan Eržen told the weekly Mladina he saw no reason for the new measures that stepped into force on Sunday and Monday.

Eržen believes that the measures, including restricting people's movement to their home municipalities and disinfecting of multi-apartment buildings, are not necessary.

"Most people honoured the previous measures in an exemplary fashion. And now because of few individuals who did not find this important the measures have been stepped up for everyone. I cannot provide any professional arguments to support this move," Eržen said in an interview with Mladina published on Tuesday.

Eržen, the epidemiologist who was appointed NIJZ acting head by the Janez Janša government on 20 March, said that the cabinet had not asked the NIJZ for an opinion before adopting the new measures.

"It was obviously concluded that people did not honour existing measures sufficiently. We were not a part of this. I am convinced that the previous measures were completely sufficient."

He also disagrees with the provisions requiring disinfection of multi-apartment buildings. "I find this extremely difficult to implement," he said. The problem is that the managers of multi-apartment buildings do not have enough disinfectant or people to conduct the disinfecting, Eržen explained.

Moreover, the disinfected surfaces are potentially contaminated again as soon as a person touches them. "I think it is much more appropriate to warn people not to touch with bare hands the surfaces that many people touch and to wash their hands frequently."

"I hope this measure will be eliminated after all the arguments have been considered," Eržen said.

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Seven repatriated from Austria test positive for coronavirus

STA, 31 March 2020 - Seven out of 27 Slovenian nationals who were evacuated from Austria on Sunday and placed in quarantine have tested positive for coronavirus, the National Institute of Public Health said.

The group returned from Tyrol, the Austrian state hardest hit by the coronavirus epidemic, on Sunday evening and had already spent 14 days in quarantine there.

Most of them worked in Austria. They were transported to an inn in Dolga Vas in north-eastern Slovenia immediately after being tested for Covid-19. They are all residents of towns in north-eastern Slovenia.

Their repatriation was coordinated by the Slovenian embassy in Vienna in cooperation with the Austrian authorities and the Croatian embassy. Along with the 27 Slovenians, 13 Croatian citizens were evacuated as well and continued their journey home.

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Two additional border crossings opening on Slovenian-Hungarian border

STA, 31 March 2020 - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto agreed on Tuesday that two additional border crossings will open on the Slovenian-Hungarian border. The two crossings are Hodoš-Bajansenye and Čepinci-Verica (Ketvölgy), the Foreign Ministry said.

Logar and Szijjarto agreed over the phone today that they will respond to initiatives from both sides of the border and make life easier for the people.

The Čepinci-Verica (Ketvölgy) border crossing in particular is very important for the Slovenian community in the Hungarian region of Porabje, being its only link to Slovenia now that all other road connections with the country are closed.

The details on the regime at the two newly opened crossings are to be determined shortly, the ministry said.

Hungary closed its borders for passenger transport because of the coronavirus on 17 March. Only daily commuters and Hungarian citizens returning to their country are allowed to cross.

So far, three border crossings with Hungary have been open - Pince, the former Pince R1/232 border crossing, which is open for Slovenian and Hungarian citizens only, and Dolga Vas.

Logar and Szijjarto expressed their satisfaction today with cooperation between their countries in the repatriation of their respective nationals and agreed this cooperation will continue. They also exchanged information about measures to curb the spread of the epidemic and measures to help businesses.

Meanwhile, the Austrian security authorities notified Slovenia today that the Slovenian-Austrian border crossing Holmec will be closed from 2 April until further notice, the Celje police administration said.

This means a major detour for people driving to work to Austria from the Mežica Valley on the Slovenian side of the border.

Slovenia reintroduced border checks with Austria last week, setting up 13 checkpoints at the former border crossings Gornja Radgona, Kuzma, Holmec, Vič, Jurij, Karavanke, Ljubelj, Trate, Radlje, Gederovci, Šentilj - motorway, Šentilj - local road and Korensko Sedlo.

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