Ljubljana related

23 Oct 2021, 11:49 AM

STA, 23 October 2021 - Slovenia logged 2,270 coronavirus infections on Friday in what is a near ten-month high. The test positivity rate stood at 30.2%, show fresh official data.

The seven-day average of new cases has therefore increased by 121 to 1,550 and the 14-day incidence per 100,000 population has climbed to 825, up by 66, National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) data show.

NIJZ estimates that there are now 17,436 active cases in the country, which is 3,407 more than the day before and 5,278 more than a week ago.

Get the latest data here

21 Oct 2021, 14:15 PM

STA, 21 October 2021 - Novartis has signed an initial agreement to use its manufacturing facility in Ljubljana to fill the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19. The Novartis Technical Operations site in Ljubljana will fill at least 24 million doses in its sterile manufacturing facilities in 2022, the Swiss pharma company announced on Thursday.

Novartis plans to take bulk mRNA active ingredient from BioNTech and fill it into vials under sterile conditions for shipment back to BioNTech for its distribution.

Subject to reaching a final agreement, Novartis plans to start filling and finishing the vaccine in Ljubljana in the first half of 2022 once it has transferred the manufacturing process from Stein, Switzerland, to Ljubljana.

Novartis has been filling for BioNTech at its Stein site since June after the European Medicines Agency approved the filling-and-finishing plant. Under the agreement signed at the beginning of 2020, Novartis will fill more than 50 million doses of the vaccine in Stein this year.

Novartis says the facility in Ljubljana is "a state-of-the-art aseptic filling operation which manufactures and supplies a broad range of aseptic products" for its division Sandoz.

Novartis plans to disclose more details once it has concluded specific agreements. It did say however, that it continued to offer its "world-class capabilities to other companies to take over manufacturing activities including a variety of technologies such as mRNA production and others".

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the most widely used Covid-19 vaccine in Slovenia. According to the National Institute of Public Health, 1,514,526 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the country so far.

21 Oct 2021, 09:26 AM

STA, 20 October 2021 - Protesters against Covid pass mandate and other coronavirus-related restrictions gathered for the sixth consecutive rally in Ljubljana on Wednesday, urging an early election. The protest was addressed by the head of the Resni.ca (Truth) party Zoran Stevanović, who is considered one of the main initiators of the weekly rallies.

According to initial estimates, a few thousand protesters gathered in Congress Square this time as Republic Square, their usual starting point, had been fenced off due to preparations for the upcoming Ljubljana Marathon.

They chanted anti-government slogans, but also voiced criticism against police, judiciary, media, doctors as well as opposition parties, calling for a snap election. Most of all, they are against the recovered-vaccinated-tested requirement.

Rally speeches started at about 4pm with Stevanović being the first to address the crowd, reported the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija. He said the protesters were getting stronger by the day and had set an example for Slovenia's neighbour countries, particularly Italy and its protests in Trieste.

A number of protesters were ID'd at the start of the rally, according to several media reports, with police officers going through the contents of their backpacks and handbags.

The police had noted that the rally had not been registered, urging the participants to protest peacefully and to follow police instructions. Police presence had been boosted and a helicopter had been circling above the rally venue.

After the speeches wrapped up, the protesters started marching through the streets of the capital. The police then urged them to disband, but this has only led to the rally being divided into two groups.

20 Oct 2021, 14:07 PM

STA, 20 October 2021 - Two nurses at the Želec Community Health Centre have been caught issuing fake vaccination certificates in exchange for money. According to unofficial information obtained by the newspaper Delo, the certificates cost up to 400 euros.

The practice was discovered after irregularities were detected in the entry of data on vaccination into the electronic registry of vaccinated persons

This prompted the director of the community health centre, Hana Šuster Erjavec, to launch an internal inquiry, which confirmed violations by two members of the nursing staff.

The pair were removed from their posts and face termination proceedings. The Celje police are also investigating the case, the Celje police station told the STA.

The Health Ministry and the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) have been informed of the inquiry.

The NIJZ told Delo that it had informed the police and the health inspectorate of suspected illegal practices by health institutions in relation to vaccination this summer based on social media posts about such practices.

The NJIZ added that while it was the manager of the electronic registry of vaccinated persons could not enter, change or correct data on vaccinated persons that had been entered into the registry by vaccination providers.

20 Oct 2021, 12:11 PM

STA, 20 October 2021 - The newspaper Finance suggests in Wednesday's editorial that Slovenia is ill prepared for the crisis that the world has entered into because the government has failed to deliver on its promise that it will lay the foundations for a good business environment.

The piece headlined Promises, Taxes and Electricity (Obljube, davki in elektrika) notes that Slovenia is to hold a general election in half a year and parties are making all kinds of promises, but the question is how realistic those are considering the looming global crisis.

"The world is in crisis. Like it was between 2008 and 2013. Slovenia is no exception. However, will we walk the crisis side by side with the eurozone or will we - like in the above-mentioned crisis - emerge from it worse off than most of Europe?"

"The government has namely failed to lay the foundations for a good business environment in the long term. We have not got either tax or anti-bureaucratic changes. Nothing. Why?"

"Because the government does not have support. It has distributed Covid bonuses without any oversight, given us a curfew, restricted our movement to the small Slovenian municipalities, flexed its muscles too often during protests (including Friday's) instead of promoting and organising vaccination better, while PM Janša still prefers to tweet and provoke scandals," writes the paper.

"It is thus no wonder it has not got sufficient support even for the laws that would benefit all. We are unlikely to get higher general tax credits and thus higher net pay to increase or at least maintain our standard, which would also make it easier for the economy to live, invest, grow, create jobs and pay taxes.

"It appears we will not even get slightly more stimulating taxes to rent real estate or invest in shares. The government has been unfit to get through parliament even the simplest amendments to the VAT that would eliminate the need for retailers to issue paper receipts except at the buyer's demand."

20 Oct 2021, 11:28 AM

STA, 20 October 2021 - Slovenia logged 2,145 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest daily number of confirmed infections since 12 January, according to data by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ). The share of positive tests stood at 29.1%, and another nine patients with Covid-19 died.

The 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents surged by 47 to 664, while the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases stood at 1,198, up by 131 on the day before.

The NIJZ estimates there are currently 14,029 active cases in the country, an increase of almost 1,000 on the day before.

A total of 1,180,046 people or 56% of the population have so far received one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while 1,103,994 or 52% are fully inoculated.

A total of 427 patients are in hospital today, six more than yesterday, of whom 122 need intensive care, down by two, show the latest government data.

All the latest data on COVID and Slovenia is here

19 Oct 2021, 13:15 PM

STA, 19 October 2021 - Mateja Logar, the head of the Health Ministry's Covid advisory group, has proposed a voluntary short-term lockdown over the autumn school break. "This would affect the development of the epidemic in November," she said. The proposal includes restricting socialising to family members and limiting large gatherings.

Presenting the proposal on Monday, Logar also warned that it would be wise to limit traditional 1 November cemetery visits to family members as well. School is out in the last week of October and many people will be on holiday, she said, noting that such a short-term lockdown could ensure the epidemiological situation does not deteriorate in November.

"It is not possible to achieve any significant tightening with the current measures, but we still believe that the recovered-vaccinated-tested (PCT) requirement is effective as long as people comply with it and as long as inspections are carried out," Logar said.

She pointed out that following the introduction of the PCT requirement, the number of coronavirus infections started to decline, but then the efficiency of the PCT control was reduced and the number started to increase again, also due to other factors.

Logar also highlighted that the recent Constitutional Court ruling warning about lack of a legal basis for fines due to non-compliance with mandatory mask-wearing should not be interpreted as proof that masks are not necessary.

Asked if recent protests against the PCT requirement could have also led to an increase in infections, Logar replied that one of the factors contributing to the spread of infections could be larger gatherings, not only on Wednesdays, when protesters against the Covid pass mandate usually gather.

According to Logar, about 87% of infected people treated in hospitals are under the age of 50. "This is a group that is less likely to need hospital treatment," she said.

In the over-50 age group, the vaccination rate is high - this means the vaccine is effective, as it is mainly individuals from age groups with low vaccination coverage who are getting sick, she said.

Yesterday marked a year since the government declared the epidemic for the second time.

Get all the latest data on covid and Slovenia

17 Oct 2021, 17:40 PM

STA, 17 October 2021 - A total of 632 new coronavirus cases were confirmed with PCR tests in Slovenia on Saturday, as the epidemic's curve continues to rise, a trend recorded earlier this week, shows data by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ). The figure compares to only 489 cases recorded on Saturday last week, which makes for a 29% weekly rise.

The 14-day incidence of cases per 100,000 residents increased by 5 to 578 from Friday, while the rolling 7-day average rose by 20 to 947.

The NIJZ now estimates the number of active cases in the country at 12,258, up by 100 from Friday.

There are now 411 Covid-19 patients in hospitals around the country, up 13 from yesterday. Of these, 123 need intensive care, up 4, government figures show.

The youngest Covid patient is 32 years old, while the youngest in intensive care is 35.

Three Covid patients died on Saturday, which compares to four deaths on Friday.

A total of 1,064,673 residents have been fully immunised against coronavirus, which is around 51% of the country's population.

Get all the latest data here

13 Oct 2021, 21:27 PM

STA, 13 October 2021 - Tensions were running high in Ljubljana as opponents of Covid-19 restrictions took to the stress for the fifth consecutive week, disrupting traffic. A police water cannon was at the ready as the police were trying to disperse the crowd blocking a major crossroads in the centre of Ljubljana.

Like the week before, the protesters gathered in the large square in front of the parliament building before heading on to proceed through the surrounding streets, carrying banners, whistling and chanting slogans against the Covid pass mandate and repression.

Unlike the week before, when the police repeatedly fired tear gas and water cannon against the demonstrators in a bid to disperse them as Slovenia hosted an EU summit, this time around the protest has largely unfolded peacefully, although the situation has been tense.

After their way was blocked by the police, the protesters became stranded at the crossroads at the innermost Ljubljana ring, in the vicinity of Hotel Lev. They failed to obey orders to disperse but riot police eventually got them to move back into the town centre and Republic Square where the protest started.

There has been heavy police presence, including mounted police, and a helicopter has been circling above the city centre. Police have had the water cannot at the ready at several locations, but have not used it, while they have used tear gas against individual protesters, media reports say.

POP TV has reported that the police have apprehended several protesters who have carried granite pavement stones.

Commenting on the developments at a session of a parliamentary committee, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs described protesters' actions today as a "blatant violation of public peace and order". He said the police would "remove them one by one from the public spaces" if need be.

Zoran Stevanović, the informal leader of protesters, has been spotted at the protest. In a statement for some media today, he blamed mainly police for the riots a week ago. But he called for peaceful protest as have the police.

Two weeks ago, the protesters blocked traffic in Celovška, the capital city's main throughfare, and the Ljubljana motorway ring road. The police used tear gas and water cannon on that occasion as well.

11 Oct 2021, 14:36 PM

STA, 11 October 2021 - Slovenia will follow the recommendation of the national advisory committee on immunisation to use the Pfizer vaccine for those under 30 years old, Health Minister Janez Poklukar said on Monday. In general, the use of mRNA vaccines will be recommended over viral vector vaccines.

Viral vector vaccines can still be used for people with a contraindication to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines or at a special request.

The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) is to send the set of new recommendations to vaccination centres tomorrow, Poklukar said.

He said the national advisory committee on immunisation decided for the move due to "data on the possibility of a slightly higher risk of inflammation of the heart muscle or pericardium".

Bojana Beović, the infectious diseases specialist who heads the advisory committee on immunisation, said that the age limit had been set at 30 due to potential side effects after vaccination with the Moderna vaccine that occur not only in people younger than 18 but also those younger than 30.

Under-30s who received the first dose of Moderna may get Pfizer when getting their second jab, she added.

This comes as the use of the single-shot Janssen vaccine in Slovenia was suspended at the end of September after a 20-year-old woman died due to brain haemorrhaging and blood clots a fortnight after she received the shot.

The only other vector vaccine in use in Slovenia is AstraZeneca.

Beović and Poklukar stressed the new recommendations were to restore trust in vaccination.

Asked what would happen with the supplies of viral vector vaccines Slovenia currently has, the minister said that the leftover vaccines should be distributed to parts of the world where they were needed.

Asked about the 100,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine Slovenia ordered from Hungary, he said the order had been suspended.

Beović also noted today that following the approval by the European Medicines Agency, Slovenia too recommended the third shot of vaccines Pfizer and Moderna for those aged 65 or more.

"This is the doze that people with a very weak immune system response receive, as we assess that the vaccination with two doses has not been sufficient. This shot is administered 28 days after the second dose or later."

Previously, the third shot was recommended for those over 70, but now the age limit was lowered following the example of other European countries. "We startedPOLNOČ! with 70, as this is the age that significantly increases the risk of severe Covid-19 disease," Beović said.

But since the epidemiological situation in Slovenia is relatively bad, the third shot can also be administered to anyone over 18 if they wish so six months after they were fully immunised, she added.

As for the use of the vector vaccines AstraZeneca and Janssen, she said that the national advisory committee on immunisation had recommended the use of mRNA vaccines over viral vector vaccines in the early summer, but these recommendations had obviously not been followed.

Both vaccines, AstraZeneca as well as Janssen, provide very good protection against severe Covid-19 disease while not protecting against infection so much, which is important for preventing the spreading of the virus, she said.

Beović said that accusations that the recommendations were constantly being changed were unfounded. "It's important to understand that things change during an epidemic. New research, new reports are coming out, and the approach to both non-pharmaceutical measures and vaccination is changing as a result," she said.

Addressing today's Covid-19 briefing, Poklukar advised all people aged 65 and over to consult their GP about a possible referral for an outpatient Regeneron infusion treatment if they get a positive PCR test.

The decision to give such a recommendation was made because of the higher risk of a more severe course of Covid-19 in older people, he said, noting that Regeneron, a treatment based on monoclonal antibodies, had been available in Slovenia since mid-summer.

"It's used for early treatment of patients with confirmed infection and for protection after contact with an infected person in case there is a risk of severe Covid-19," he said.

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