COVID-19 & Slovenia, Mid-Day 4 April: Numbers, Shopping Hours for Vulnerable, Top-Selling Items, Food Self-Sufficiency

By , 04 Apr 2020, 12:46 PM Politics
COVID-19 & Slovenia, Mid-Day 4 April: Numbers, Shopping Hours for Vulnerable, Top-Selling Items, Food Self-Sufficiency Saška Grušovnik

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All our 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. Today it’s Saška Grušovnik. You can see more of her work here.


Number of coronavirus cases rises to 977; 22 deaths confirmed

Vulnerable groups to shop one hour more from today

Flour, rice and pasta top sellers amid Covid-19

Minister excited about efforts to increase food self-sufficiency amid crisis

Number of coronavirus cases rises to 977; 22 deaths confirmed

STA, 4 April 2020 - Two more deaths related to the new coronavirus in Slovenia were recorded on Friday, putting the death toll at 22. The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases rose by 43 to 977 in a day, the government said on Twitter.

A total of 1,188 tests were performed yesterday. The number of hospitalised persons dropped from 112 to 109, while the number of patients in intensive care rose by one to 31.

According to coronavirus crisis spokesperson Jelko Kacin, ten people were released from hospital on Friday.

The first coronavirus test in Slovenia was conducted on 27 January. Until the first infection was confirmed, 313 tests were performed per infection. Between 4 March and Friday, additional 27.109 tests were conducted.

On Friday, 6,348 members of the civil protection and relief forces were activated to deal with the epidemic, data from the Information Centre show.

Medical staff is warning they are under tremendous pressure and will not be able to keep up like this for much longer. If the functioning of the health system in other areas will be this restricted for long, this could cause more deaths in the long-term than coronavirus, they warn.

Staff in intensive care is particularly burdened. According to Tomaž Vovk, a specialist in dialectology and intensive care, who works with Covid-19 patients at the UKC Ljubljana hospital, doctors are working 12-hour shifts and treat three to four times more patients than normal.

"Another problem is the protective gear. In order to make full use of it, we sometimes work in it for five, six or seven hours without a break, which means we cannot go to the toilet or drink," he told the STA.

He said the situation was currently still manageable but if the situation continued for a long time, it would become too much to handle. "Everyone who needs intensive care receive it. We have enough time available to treat these patients," he said.

He welcomed all state measures to contain the epidemic and people's cooperation. "We do not wish to be in a situation where we would not be able to offer intensive care to these patients and would be forced to chose between patients," he said.

Epidemiologist of the National Public Health Institute Tit Albreht and GP from the Celje community health centre Katarina Skubec Moćić meanwhile pointed to the needs of citizens who are not infected with coronavirus but have other health problems.

American analyses have shown that if only as many people got ill as the health system can handle then the epidemic would last for 18 months. But if the public health system were thus paralysed for 18 months then other medical conditions and chronic diseases could kill more people than the virus, Albreht said.

Skubec Moćić warned that people have the same health problems as before the epidemic while the accessibility of services was much lower. "The pressure on patients and medical staff is stepping up by the day. I think next three weeks will be crucial to see whether the measures we have adopted were sufficient," she said.

The virus is not going to simply disappear, so it would make sense to slowly start providing certain health services again in a controlled area, she believes.

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Vulnerable groups to shop one hour more from today

STA, 4 April 2020 - Vulnerable groups such as the disabled, pensioners and pregnant women are being given one more dedicated shopping hour from Saturday after being so far encouraged to shop for supplies only between 8am and 10am to minimise the risk of coronavirus infection.

Under a decision taken by the government last night, two time slots will be reserved for vulnerable groups from Saturday, between 8am and 10am, and between 5pm and 6pm, when shops close.

Pensioners will be allowed to shop only during those times, the Government Communication Office said.

The extra hour comes after several associations called for a longer time slot dedicated to vulnerable groups, including the Trade Union of Pensioners and the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS). DeSUS proposed an additional time slot between 1pm and 3pm.

The party argued that offering only the two-hour morning slot to more than 650,000 people was not appropriate.

On Thursday, Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Miha Lobnik and the association Silver Lining called for extension of the time slot reserved for those most at risk from 8am to noon.

The government amended the decree at today's correspondence session and the new version was already published in the Official Gazette.

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Flour, rice and pasta top sellers amid Covid-19

STA, 4 April 2020 - Sales of flour, rice and pasta rose more than four-fold in Slovenia in the week from 9 to 15 March compared to the same period last year, data by Nielsen agency shows. Cereal, canned meat, and pre-made sauces and soups recorded a growth rate of between 200% and 300%.

This was in the week when the government declared a coronavirus epidemic on 12 March, when residents were becoming more worried about the outbreak and potential food shortages.

Retailers in Slovenia recorded a 67% jump in the value of sales compared to the comparable week last year, that is from 11 to 17 March 2019.

The value of foods sold at shops around the country increased by 64% and the value of goods other than food by 77%.

Soaps and plastic gloves were also in big demand, posting a rise of 200% to 300%, with glove sales further rising by almost 400% in the week from 16 to 22 March.

Consumers also bought increasing amounts of toilet paper and washing powder, while alcohol drinks posted a drop.

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Minister excited about efforts to increase food self-sufficiency amid crisis

STA, 4 April 2020 - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec hailed on Friday a decision by a company growing orchids to also start growing vegetables as a case of rapid adaptation that can serve as an example to others on how to increase food self-sufficiency in the country in these times of crisis and in general. She announced government measures to facilitate this.

Paying a visit to Ocean Orchids, which decided to use its greenhouses to also grow salad and plans to expand to other vegetables if the situation demands it, Pivec spoke of a successful practice that was a response to the crisis.

Ocean Orchids Roman Ferenčak said that the technology available made it possible to convert such greenhouses for this purpose practically overnight.

The main message is that greenhouses provide the key answer to the crisis Slovenia is in, as the country has very poor self-sufficiency when it comes to vegetables, Ferenčak added.

The pair discussed the legal aspects of greenhouses, whose status has been subject to different interpretations.

Pivec said that the government was looking into the matter and added that "if we are talking about facilities that are meant for other types of production but can be redirected to food production fast, we need to adjust all procedures involved in setting up such agricultural objects".

The minister announced an action plan that would quickly encourage food growers to expand production. The phasing of EU funds will be adjusted to this purpose as well, she said, adding it needed to proceed as fast as possible and without unnecessary bureaucracy.

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