Top Covid-19 Advisor Calls for Stricter Border Measures

By , 18 Jun 2020, 11:04 AM Politics
Top Covid-19 Advisor Calls for Stricter Border Measures JL Flanner

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Eight new coronavirus infections were confirmed in Slovenia in Wednesday, Health Minister Tomaž Gantar has announced. This is a marked increase compared to recent weeks and takes the total number of recorded infections to 1,511. The death toll remained unchanged at 109.

STA, 17 June 2020 - Bojana Beović, the head of the team advising the Health Ministry on coronavirus, has urged reimposing stringent measures on the borders at once after an increase in new infections originating abroad, while PM Janez Janša warned new restrictions would be inevitable unless those in place were respected.

After seeing very few or no new daily coronavirus cases for almost a month, Slovenia saw the daily figure spike at 5 on 5 June, followed by 11 new cases last week and already 7 this Monday and Tuesday.

The cases have either been imported from abroad or are close contacts of those cases, with Radio Slovenija reporting on Wednesday that most of the cases originated in the Balkans.

Commenting on the situation for media on Wednesday, Beović said that most of the cases had been imported, describing the situation as rather critical.

Noting that people obviously got too relaxed, the advisor said the new cases in recent days were due to the open border regime, warning that those new imported cases could lead to dozens of new cases in the future.

She believes that entry should be restricted for the countries placed on the red or black lists by the National Public Health Institute (NIJZ).

"We've had individual cases imported from abroad on a daily basis and with this sort of conduct, that is with a lot of socialising and failure to wear masks, such a situation could be very dangerous," Beović told the online edition of the newspaper Večer.

"We could see an extensive spread of the virus in a very short time," she added.

Similarly, the prime minister warned of a looming threat of a second wave of the epidemic as the risk of imported infections was growing fast with the reopening of Europe's borders and resumption of intercontinental flights.

"All measures in place will prevent a repeat of the epidemic only if they are implemented consistently. Or else new restrictions will be inevitable," Janša said on his Twitter profile.

In response to Beović's criticism of too many exemptions to the measures already in place, NIJZ director Milan Krek announced a rethink on justifiability of some of the exemptions that allow arrivals from countries not listed as Covid-19-safe to avoid a mandatory two-week quarantine.

The government decree on the prevention of Covid-19 spread at border crossings lists 16 exemptions to the 14-day quarantine for arrivals from the countries not okayed as safe by the NIJZ.

Those exemptions include daily or weekly migrants, persons in business transit in Slovenia, those transporting goods into or out of the country, transit passengers and diplomats.

Crossing the border without the mandatory quarantine is also possible for persons visiting their closest relatives and close relatives of Slovenian citizens or foreigners with permanent residence in Slovenia.

Talking with the STA, Krek said that most of the coronavirus infections in Slovenia in recent weeks came into the country based on those exemptions.

This is why the NIJZ would propose a discussion on whether some of the exemptions made sense, as envisaged in the decree in the event of a worsening in the epidemiological situation.

Krek expects the decree could be amended as early as Friday.

As of Tuesday midnight, Slovenia had 26 active coronavirus cases out of the total of 1,503 registered since the first case was confirmed on 4 March.

Seven Covid-19 patients are being treated in hospitals, one of them in an intensive care unit.

There have been no Covid-19 fatalities since 1 June when the death total reached 109.

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