COVID-19 & Slovenia, Fri 04/09: 47 Cases; Fines Possible for Not Wearing a Mask; Croatians Prevented from Visiting Graves; Hungary Reopens Border Crossing

By , 04 Sep 2020, 13:21 PM Politics
COVID-19 & Slovenia, Fri 04/09: 47 Cases; Fines Possible for Not Wearing a Mask; Croatians Prevented from Visiting Graves; Hungary Reopens Border Crossing

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Cases - Masks - Graves Hungary

47 new coronavirus cases in 1,733 tests in Slovenia on Thursday

STA, 4 September 2020 - A record 1,733 tests conducted on Thursday confirmed 47 new Sars-CoV-2 infections in Slovenia, a slight drop on the 53 and 55 cases discovered on Wednesday and Tuesday. No new fatalities occurred, meaning the death toll remains at 134. The number of hospitalised patients decreased by two to 24, with three in intensive care.

The new cases put the total number of confirmed infections thus far at 3,079, 505 of which are active. The total number of quarantine orders currently in force exceeds 9,000.

Meanwhile, providing some cause for concern are reports of infections in staff from three kindergartens and pupils from several schools after the new school year started on Monday in-class for almost 191,000 primary and secondary pupils and almost 18,000 teachers.

Classes where cases were established are being quarantined and are mostly switching to remote learning. Schools with cases have remained open, an exception being a primary school in Braslovče where both the kindergarten and school were closed after four positive cases.

Government spokesman Jelko Kacin said today that the situation was no cause for alarm, as there are many schools and classes in Slovenia, meaning there will be cases. He explained that local epidemiologists have the final word about measures taken in individual cases.

Meanwhile, the new cases remain dispersed around the country. They were confirmed in 29 municipalities on Thursday, with Ljubljana again topping the chart with ten cases.

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Govt creates basis to fine those who flout face mask rules

STA, 3 September 2020 - The government has changed the legal basis for the mandatory wearing of face masks or other face coverings in public indoor spaces and for mandatory hand sanitising to make it possible to actually fine those who flout the rules.

The adoption of a new decree at today's government session was announced by government spokesman Jelko Kacin after Slovenia recorded a five-month spike in new coronavirus cases.

It comes after the human rights ombudsman, responding to a complaint by a member of the public, exposed a loophole that made it impossible to impose any sanctions on those violating the mandatory wearing of masks.

Kacin said the new rule on the mandatory of wearing masks will not apply to schools or sports and recreational activities where they will remain recommended. Unless schools were excluded, masks would also be mandatory in class, not just in common indoor areas.

However, masks will continue to be mandatory on public transport.

The new decree comes into effect from Friday when inspectors will start overseeing its implementation and will be able to issue penalty notices to violators.

Kacin said that masks would not be mandatory when sufficient distance between people can be kept. "If an office in a public space is big enough masks are not compulsory, especially when ventilation is possible."

Restrictions on gatherings in public places remain in place with the government Covid-19 advisory group warning that the restrictions must also apply to all private gatherings.

Slovenia recorded 53 new coronavirus infections for Wednesday after a five-month high of 55 the day before, which was on a record number of tests. Kacin noted that almost 50 more tests were performed on Wednesday than Tuesday.

The lab capacities are overstretched. "We fear there will be delays, that we'll be waiting for the results for the next day and that we won't have the real picture any longer," said Kacin.

Kacin said that many infected individuals would not tell the epidemiologists where they had caught the virus, so it was necessary to follow self-protective measures.

Turning to the deteriorating situation in other countries, he announced Slovenia would be forced to amend its quarantine list of countries.

The Covid-19 advisory group are currently discussing the possibility to let Croatian citizens living along the border visit their graves in Slovenia without mandatory quarantine ahead of All Saints Day, observed on 1 November.

However, Kacin noted that Croatia's coronavirus status was getting worse and would soon near 100 infections per 100,000 residents. This was after a public health official said yesterday that Slovenia's 14 day incidence was nearing 23 per 100,000.

Tatjana Lejko Zupanc, the head of the Infectious Disease Department of the Ljubljana UKC hospital, said that Covid-19 hospitalisations were on the rise and that an increasing number of patients required intensive care.

She reported that experience had shown the use of face masks as effective, including among health professions who avoided catching the virus from a family member because they were wearing a mask.

She urged everyone to follow the precautionary measures and act responsibly for the sake of themselves, their relatives and everyone else, in particular with the approach of autumn and winter when it will be no longer possible to see whether a person has a cold, flu or Covid-19.

Those hospitalised with Covid-19 are 63 years old on average, which is similar to the first wave of the epidemic. Patients with chronic conditions are hospitalised again, but this time around they do not have so grave chronic issues.

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Covid-19 makes it hard to visit relatives' graves across the border

STA, 3 September 2020 - The lives of some locals in border areas seem to be getting harder since Slovenia recently red-listed Croatia due to a rising number of Covid-19 cases. This prevents Croats from visiting the graves of their relatives across the border in Slovenia. Croatia would like the strict measures to be somewhat softened.

Croatia's Nova TV reported last evening that two Croatian citizens were not allowed to enter Slovenia to visit their relatives' graves in Jelšane, a Slovenian town just two kilometres from the Croatian town of Rupa.

There are some exceptions allowing Croatian citizens to enter Slovenia for a funeral of a relative or for business or some other urgent matters.

Slovenian and Croatian authorities have been notified of the difficulties by Croatian Mayor of Klana Željka Šarčević Grgić.

Although a meeting has been held in Slovenia's Ilirska Bistrica to discuss softer measures, she said the measures had in fact become stricter.

Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman told Nova TV that all open issues were being addressed, adding Croatia would appreciate if Croatians were allowed to visit their graves in Slovenia.

The locals would like to see a solution before 1 November, All Saints' Day, when Slovenians and Croats visit graves en masse.

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Hungary grants border opening appeals from Slovenian minority

STA, 4 September 2020 - The Hungarian authorities have granted an appeal from the Slovenian ethnic minority to open another border crossing for the locals, re-opening the Ketvolgy/Verica-Čepinci crossing as of Saturday between 6am and 6pm. A border crossing with Austria, important for Slovenian daily migrant workers, will also be reopened.

On Tuesday, Hungary closed its border for foreign citizens to contain the coronavirus, leaving only three border crossings with Slovenia operable - Pince (Tornyiszentmiklós on the Hungarian side), Dolga Vas (Hosszufalu) and Hodoš (Bajansenye).

The Slovenian minority on the other side of the border has been virtually cut off from Slovenia, and their representatives, as well as the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, have called on the Hungarian authorities to open one more small border crossing.

The Ketvolgy/Verica-Čepinci border crossing is very important for the minority, as travelling through other border crossings may prolong the journey by 100 kilometres or two hours.

Granting the appeal, Hungary also allowed parents who take their children to a bilingual school in Slovenia's Prosenjakovci to cross the local border crossing two times a day.

The restrictions on border travel have posed a problem for the primary school, which has 100 pupils, of whom 42 come from Hungary.

Erika Köleš Kiss, the minority's representative in Hungarian parliament, said that the representatives had strived for the border crossing to open even earlier, but were nevertheless happy with the outcome.

The Hungarian authorities also granted an appeal to reopen the border crossing with Austria at Alsószölnök, which is used by Slovenian daily migrant workers. It is expected to be opened on Saturday and stay opened between 7am and 7pm.

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