Covid & Slovenia, Thu 15/10: 745 New Cases, 5,287 Tests, 14% Positivity Rate; Remote Schooling Starts Monday for Some Children

By , 15 Oct 2020, 13:17 PM Politics
Covid & Slovenia, Thu 15/10: 745 New Cases, 5,287 Tests, 14% Positivity Rate; Remote Schooling Starts Monday for Some Children covid-19.sledilnik.org

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STA, 15 October 2020 - Slovenia has logged yet another coronavirus record as the daily tally hit 745 for Wednesday, following 707 the day before, bringing the total case count to well over 10,000.

Government spokesman Jelko Kacin, speaking at a press briefing now under way, said that a record 5,287 tests were performed yesterday, with 14% of the cases returning positive, just slightly below 14.4% the day before.

Hospitalisations increased by twelve to 222 despite 20 Covid-19 patients being discharged home on Wednesday. As many as 40 are in intensive case units, five more than the day before.

Both figures are close to thresholds the government set for declaring an epidemic again, after a third criteria, that is the rolling 14-day average, has already been passed days ago.

The 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents is now 230, up from 203 the day before. The so-called phase-red threshold is 140, along with at least 250 hospitalisations and at least 50 intensive care patients.

Slovenia has so far confirmed 10,683 coronavirus cases, of which 4,818 remain active, data from tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org show.

After another fatality on Wednesday, the Covid-related death toll has increased to 176.

Kacin said that epidemiologists were overwhelmed with new cases, so they were no longer able to conduct enquiries on all new cases in a single day. Out of 707 cases on Tuesday they managed to process about 500 yesterday.

Infections continue to spread among staff in healthcare and at care homes. Tracker data show 26 new infections were among health staff, 18 among care home residents and 13 among staff in the homes.

By far the highest number of new cases, 119, was confirmed in Ljubljana, whose per capita infection rate has risen to 0.271% with 797 active cases.

After a total of 134 municipalities reported new cases for Wednesday, only five remain that have not had any infection yet. Črna na Koroškem in the north continues to have the highest infection rate, at 0.914%.

Older primary school, secondary school students switching to remote learning

STA, 15 October 2020 - Primary school children as of the 6th grade and secondary school students will be schooled remotely as of Monday for at least one week, Education Minister Simona Kustec announced on Thursday as the government has adopted additional restrictive measures.

Children attending the first five grades of primary school will meanwhile continued to go to school, Kustec told the press. Kindergartens will continue to operate normally.

Children up to the fifth grade are exempt because they have only started their education and they need to be taught in-person, while they also have the same teacher all the time so mingling is restricted, she added.

For the time being, remote learning will take place next week, after which primary and secondary school students go to week-long autumn holidays. A reassessment will be made after the holidays.

If the epidemiological situation improves after the holidays, schooling may be back to the system used at the moment, the minister said.

Vocational colleges will switch to remote learning next week all the way until the end of October, according to the letter the Education, Science and Sport Ministry has sent to schools.

Music schools will also be working remotely next week, while all programmes of institutions and schools for children with special needs will be implemented in person.

Sport facilities operated by schools may only be used for competitions and training by registered athletes in the senior and junior categories, Minister Kustec also announced.

All afternoon and extracurricular activities in schools are suspended until further notice.

Apprentices should continue their apprenticeships in line with instructions and measures taken their employer.

It has been left to higher education institutions to decide how they will organise their academic processes. "As we have noticed, this usually means transitioning to remote learning," the minister said.

Dormitories for secondary school students will continue with their work normally, but residents are encouraged to leave them for their homes in order to provide a safer environment to those who do not have conditions for remote learning at home.

Fitness centres and indoor sport facilities will need to secure 20 square metres for a single person during exercise or trainings, Kustec added.

The minister said the infection rate among primary and secondary school employees and students was 0.09%, and the share of quarantined persons is above 1%.

"Perhaps this is a low number, but when compared to the entire epidemiological picture, we can see that it increases at a comparable rate, and this was the main reason for the measures," she added.

At the beginning of September, the ministry distributed 4,000 computers to schools to help them organise remote learning. If there is need for more equipment, the ministry will help, Kustec concluded.

Representatives of associations of head teachers and trade unions expressed surprise at the government's decision not to use a regional approach and introduce the measure only in the red-listed statistical regions.

"Why are the restrictions across-the-board?" wondered the head of the Association of Primary School Headteachers, Gregor Pečan, adding that the measure was disproportionate as it had been envisaged for the epidemic declaration phase.

Branimir Štrukelj of the SVIZ trade union of teachers added that the "government decisions lack consistency" and that he had the feeling that it had no serious strategy for schools and kindergartens.

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