Chief Epidemiologist Quits Covid Advisory Team; No Sign of Epidemic Easing

By , 07 Dec 2020, 12:13 PM Politics
Mario Fafangel Mario Fafangel

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STA, 7 December 2020 - Mario Fafangel, Slovenia's chief epidemiologist, has quit the Health Ministry task force advising the government on measures to fight Covid-19, the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) said on Monday.

The head of the NIJZ's Centre for Communicable Diseases, Fafangel has informed Health Minister Tomaž Gantar of his decision and explained his reasons, but he does not intend to provide a public explanation.

Fafagel has recently told the political weekly Mladina that he disagreed with some of the restrictions the government has imposed, but he stressed that overall, tough restrictions were needed to contain the epidemic.

Coronavirus epidemic shows no signs of easing

STA, 7 December 2020 - Slovenia recorded 480 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, a three-week Sunday high, as the epidemic shows no signs of easing, according to data released by the Health Ministry. 52 more Covid-19 patients died, taking the overall death toll to 1,796.

The latest cases are from 1,751 coronavirus tests, which means that the test positivity rate remains a high 27.41%.

Addressing the daily coronavirus press briefing, Jelko Kacin, the governments' Covid-19 spokesman, said data from the National Institute of Public Health showed the rolling 14-day average of cases per 100,000 was 972 as of Sunday.

Five regions have currently incidence lower than the average, Goriška in the west (657), Central Slovenia (701), the broader coastal and Kras region (707), Gorenjska in the north-west (776) and Zasavje in mid-east (875).

The seven-day average, one of the criteria for a potential easing of measures, is 1,482. The figure needs to drop below 1,350 for the country to move out of the top-tier restrictions, or alternatively the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals needs to drop below 1,200.

Hospitalisations remained stable, decreasing by one to 1,301 as 44 Covid-19 patients were discharged home and 81 were newly admitted on Sunday. The number of patients in intensive care units likewise fell by one to 196.

"The difference between new admissions and discharges does not bring any substantial relief, the situation is the same as a few days ago," commented Kacin.

He said the government would expectedly meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss new measures.

"If the average of infections falls below a certain level or if the number of occupied [Covid-19 hospital] beds dropped bellow 1,2000 the government will discuss potential easing," said Kacin.

He mentioned limited resumption of public transport, services such as hair salons and stores, provided the 30-square-metre per customer per rule is obeyed.

"The situation is far from favourable," Mateja Logar, an infectiologist from the UKC Ljubljana Department of Infectious Diseases, said as she addressed the briefing by videolink.

She said that with most Covid beds full at UKC Ljubljana, a third location at the newly refurbished temporary Covid-19 department was being opened. She said the youngest patient was 17 and the youngest intensive care patient 35.

Kacin also presented the latest statistics on infections at care homes, where a total of 2,712 residents and 1,078 staff are actively infected, an increase of 65 and 17, respectively.

There are also 231 actively infected residents and 151 staff at facilities for people with special needs.

Slovenia has so far confirmed over 86,000 coronavirus cases.

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