Ljubljana related

02 Aug 2021, 17:44 PM

STA, 2 August 2021 - A total of 31 people tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, the fifth straight day that the daily case count was up compared with the same day a week ago.

Data released by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) show that 647 PCR tests were conducted yesterday, for a test positivity rate of 4.8%, in addition to 8,713 rapid antigen tests.

The 7-day average of new cases rose by one to 87 and the cumulative 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents by as much to 51.

NIJZ estimates there are now 1,103 active cases in the country, out of over 259,300 confirmed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

The Jožef Stefan Institute noted in a press release that the scope of the Covid-19 epidemic in Slovenia was increasing, although the summer season, which acts as partial lockdown of the country, is at its peak.

The local basic reproduction number is approximately 1.05, while the estimated effective reproduction number, which takes into account the imported number of infections, is approximately 1.25.

The epidemic is in decline when this number is below 1, the country's main research institute noted, adding that the current estimated daily number of imported infections is 15.

Get the latest COVID data for Slovenia

30 Jul 2021, 15:21 PM

STA, 30 July 2021 - Proceedings have been launched against two doctors by the Medical Chamber tribunal due to their contentious statements about Covid-19 vaccination and vaccines, the chamber has told the STA. Unofficially, one of them is a member of an anti-vaccine doctors' movement.

The vast majority of health workers, including doctors, have been highlighting the importance of vaccination and other preventive measures against Covid-19, however a handful have taken a different stand, airing their anti-vaccine views on social media and via certain media outlets.

Unofficially, one of the doctors against whom the chamber has initiated proceedings is a member of the Slovenian Doctors' Initiative, a movement that has been present online since last autumn and is among the most prominent anti-vaccination groups on social media in the country. The movement also questions some preventive measures such as testing and mask-wearing.

The chamber, which is keeping a close watch on its members' public posts, making sure they are not unprofessional or unethical, has confirmed that it has received a number of complaints against doctors, most of whom are members of the initiative.

The chamber's committee in charge of legal-ethical issues has processed seven cases so far. More serious ones have been referred to the tribunal, which is currently investigating two cases.

According to unofficial information obtained by the STA, the other case involves Nada Hiti, a GP with the Domžale Health Centre who published a recording on social media after diluting an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine with water and urine and sending the sample to the laboratory for analysis.

Hearings in both cases are expected to be held in late August.

30 Jul 2021, 15:08 PM

STA, 30 July 2021 - The National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) has announced that a new anonymous mobile app for checking the validity of EU digital Covid certificates is available to event organisers and service provider as of Friday.

The app is intended for organisers of cultural and sport events and public rallies, as well as providers of hospitality services and accommodation, who in line with the government decrees need to check Covid certificates of attendees and guests.

It scans QR codes on EU digital Covid certificates and checks whether the person has been tested for, recovered from or vaccinated against Covid-19 without getting access to personal or health information of the person.

The app for mobile devices, available on the e-health zVem portal, checks whether the issuer of the certificate is valid and placed on the list of valid issuers and whether the content of the certificate is valid in line with the relevant rules in Slovenia.

25 Jul 2021, 07:07 AM

STA, 24 July 2021 - Under the government's decision made on Friday evening hospitality providers in Slovenia will have to check guests' Covid certificates from Monday. The rule already applies to organisers of public events and gatherings.

Visitors to indoor venues such as pubs, cafes, restaurants, casinos, clubs and accommodation facilities have had to observe the rule that they be vaccinated, tested or have recovered from coronavirus for quite a long time already, but from now on the establishments themselves must check compliance before entry.

The government decided this at Friday's correspondence session due to a rapid spread of the Delta variant in the EU. The new rule is in place until 1 August for now, said the Government Communication Office.

Hospitality providers are also required to notify customers of the Covid certificate requirement by displaying a sign instructing them to heed the rule.

To produce a valid certificate through testing one must have a rapid test result no older than 48 hours or a PCR test result no older than 72 hours, the same time windows that apply when crossing the border or attending public events.

The certificate requirement does not apply to outdoor hospitality venues as long as physical distancing is observed.

24 Jul 2021, 10:26 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 23 July 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Preparations in light of low vaccination rate

STAv, 23 July 2021 - In its latest editorial, Mladina looks at the situation in Slovenia regarding vaccination and suggests that the vaccinated and non-vaccinated will need to learn how to co-exist. Under the headline Us, the Vaccinated and Them, the Unvaccinated, the weekly calls for preparedness and suggests alternative measures to vaccination.

"The vaccination debate has become very personal, there are feuds between partners, families and friends. The debate is so fierce that some get vaccinated in secret, while others hide their intention not to be vaccinated," begins the commentary.

Mladina continues with criticizing Slovenia's unsuccessful collective effort to achieve herd immunity, adding that the whole society, including the government, needs to accept that some people are simply not going to get vaccinated.

"We need to react not by violence, arrogance and ridiculing those who oppose vaccination, but by introducing other ways of preventing infections and establishing rules of behaviour between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated."

Mladina suggests that there should be more focus on schools and the preparations for the upcoming fourth wave of the epidemic, criticizing the government for "betting exclusively on vaccination."

The weekly says that Slovenia is ill-prepared for the next wave and the autumn, when people will return to the offices, classrooms and other indoor spaces, adding that the alternative solutions like ventilation technologies are being ignored.

"We need to be realistic and prepare in good time: we are only a month away from the start of the school year and more people staying in unventilated spaces. Two roughly equal groups of people with completely different views of the epidemic will be living in the same society, that is a fact to which all measures must be adapted," concludes the commentary.

Demokracija: Leftists getting more radical

STA, 22 July 2021 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija says in its latest editorial that last week's developments indicate the left bloc continues to realise their idea of transforming Slovenia back into a socialist country despite the centre-right government. Even leftists who are willing to cooperate are being radicalised, it adds.

The left-wing's control in the media, NGOs, institutions and even ministries provides a button that, when pushed, enables media attacks or violence, says the weekly, adding that "the left-wing is willing to burn to the ground everything it does not like".

Listing the centre-left opposition's responses to last week's political developments, Demokracija says that leftists think every rightist is a racist, Nazi, supremacist or harbouring a tendency towards autocracy.

"This is, of course, complete nonsense. Same goes for leftists: not all of them are inclined to Marxism, repression of freedom of speech or opening of gulags," says the commentary, headlined Let's Talk About the Left Wing Then, arguing there is a key difference between the two poles though.

Those that are not all-around leftists in Slovenia are overnight subjected to threats as dire as foreshadowing physical violence, so even the progressives who are willing to cooperate are being radicalised including with the enormous help of mainstream media, Demokracija writes.

"The leftists believe they have a right to eradicate ideological opponents and that only they may rule," says the weekly, highlighting that the right-wing has been silently observing this as well as underestimating "the rise of cultural Marxism".

"If we're only silently observing, I fear this will not end well for either of us. It is good if one prays for a good harvest, but then one has to grab a hoe, rake, scythe and garden fork as well," concludes the commentary.

All our posts in this series are here

23 Jul 2021, 14:32 PM

STA, 23 July 2021 - Organisers of public events and gatherings must check visitors' Covid certificates as of Friday under a regulation that the government put in place yesterday. A mobile app has been released, for now only for devices running Google's Android operating system. A version for Apple devices is expected within two weeks.

Visitors to public events have long had to comply with the requirement that they be vaccinated, tested or have recovered from coronavirus, but from now organisers must check compliance.

When a Covid certificate QR code is scanned with the app, the only information that shows up is the holder's name, date of birth and whether they have a valid Covid certificate, according to Anže Kavšek, who works in tech support at the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

The checking of compliance is coupled with shorted validity of both rapid tests and the more reliable PCR tests. Until yesterday a week-old test sufficed for admission to public events and religious gatherings, now a rapid test is valid for 48 hours and a PCR test 72 hours, the same time windows that apply when crossing the border.

The NIJZ said this was a decision backed by science since reliability declines strongly after 48 and 72 hours, respectively. The new time windows are in place until 1 August for now.

Health Minister Janez Poklukar told today's press conference that the app would not share any personal data with the organisers. Neither would they be able to see which of the three Covid certificate conditions has been met, he added. The minister highlighted that only the police could ID people, however in the event of potential abuses of the app or wrongdoings, he expects citizens would report this to the authorities.

The Information Commissioner has launched a supervision of the new app, which is reportedly the same as the one checked by the police at border crossings, warning of a potential lack of a legal basis.

Quoting media reports, Information Commissioner Mojca Prelesnik said that transposing apps which had been used by the police to the private sector should not be done without an appropriate legal framework. Moreover, personal data should not be processed for various purposes without an appropriate legal basis, she warned.

Prelesnik also highlighted that any restrictions and related personal data processing should be in line with the Constitution, law and the principle of proportionality. She noted in a press release that her office had not been informed about the details of the app so far and had not been given access to it beforehand to weigh in on it.

23 Jul 2021, 12:43 PM

STA, 22 July 2021 - The government has added cross-border workers to the list of exceptions for quarantine-free entry to Slovenia if they do not have a Covid certificate. The exception will apply to workers who live up to ten kilometres from the national border.

Under the decree adopted on Thursday, cross-border workers employed in one of the member states of the EU or the Schengen Area are permitted to enter Slovenia under these conditions.

Their residence in Slovenia, though, needs to be not farther than ten kilometres away from the national border. The distance from the border, measured as the crow flies, will be determined with Google maps.

Cross-border worker are required to return within five days after they cross into another country. It is a temporary exception that is expected to be in force until 15 August, and not later than until 1 September, the Government Communication Office said.

As of 15 July, Slovenia no longer applies lists of countries relative to the epidemiological situation, as all persons entering the country must produce a certificate proving that they have been tested, recovered or vaccinated against Covid-19. Otherwise they are ordered to quarantine.

So far, the exceptions applied to children under 15, owners of property both sides of the borders and people who are transiting through Slovenia. There has been significant criticism as to cross-border workers having not been put among the exceptions.

22 Jul 2021, 16:15 PM

STA, 22 July 2021 - Covid certificates have been mandatory for all guests at events for some time, but they have rarely been checked at the gate. Now, the government has decided to make verification of compliance mandatory at all events.

Persons who do not have a Covid certificate - a paper of electronic document proving that they have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months - must be prohibited from entering the venue, the government said after Thursday's session.

"This is not about imposing additional burdens on anyone ... it is about those attending events doing so safely and with the knowledge that they will not get sick," Mateja Logar, the head of the government's Covid advisory group, told the press.

Compliance will be checked with an app developed by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), which only verifies the Covid certificate without revealing personal data, according to Logar.

The new rules enter into effect a day after they are published in the Official Gazette.

21 Jul 2021, 12:16 PM

STA, 20 July 2021 - The latest survey by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) shows that between 27.5% and 32.1% are still unwilling to get vaccinated against Covid-19. This is as almost 37% of the population has already been fully inoculated.

Releasing the 13th SI-PANDA survey on the impact of Covid-19 on people's lives, NIJZ noted that the proportion of fully-vaccinated people was steadily increasing.

The latest data on the NIJZ website shows that 36.5% of Slovenia's population has been fully vaccinated and 42% of the people have received their first dose.

Asked what would affect most their decision on getting the jab, most of those questioned said it would depend on whether there was sufficient data available on the vaccine being safe and effective, on whether the vaccine had been used for a while and on whether they would be able to choose between vaccines.

The main reasons cited by those unwilling to get vaccinated are concerns about side effects and the jab's long-term effect on their health and the belief that vaccines are not safe.

Nearly two out of three respondents (61.5%) reported that the pandemic had negatively impacted on their social contacts with their extended family and friends and just over one in three reported taking less exercise and as many saying their financial security had deteriorated.

On the other hand, those noticing a positive effect of the pandemic reported mainly taking more exercise.

The proportion of those who experienced stress increased compared with the CINDI survey conducted about a year ago. Nearly one fourth of respondents in the latest survey reported experiencing stress often or on a daily basis, about 7% more than in 2020.

Nearly three out of four of those who have had Covid-19 reported having issues still a month after recovering from the disease.

The survey is based on of WHO questionnaire, adapted to the Slovenia situation, which makes data internationally comparable.

20 Jul 2021, 14:38 PM

STA, 20 July 2021 - Slovenia started issuing digital certificates on 24 June, but initially they were only available on the national e-health website, which requires a digital identity to access.

In early July, the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) then sent out paper copies of the digital certificate to around 900,000 residents.

Since last week users can download the eZVEM app to their mobile devices running Apple's IOS or Google's Android operating system. To activate the app, they need one of two national digital identities.

To use digital Covid certificate data basis without internet access, registration is not needed. The users only need to scan the QR code of their digital Covid certificate to save it on their mobile device.

"The app and the genuine digital certificate are steps in continuation of the previously announced digitalisation and modernisation of Slovenian healthcare and public administration," said the health minister.

The key change is that parents will be able to download on their mobile phones the certificates of their children and other family members.

"In this way digital certificates will be always with you and will ease entry not only to other countries but also into cultural institutions, hotels, restaurants, sports venues," said Poklukar.

The new mobile app also makes it possible to access health documents such as e-prescriptions, e-referrals, waiting times and test results.

Poklukar also announced a special app that would allow event organisers to check "anonymously" whether visitors to public events have been either vaccinated, have recovered from Covid or tested negative.

This was as organizers have so far not been obliged to check whether the visitors meet one of the three conditions, even though that was a condition for access to the event.

"We would like participants in public events to attend them safely and to stay safe after the event, to not see a repeat of a football event like a year and a half ago becoming a source of infection or an outbreak," said Poklukar.

Calling on everyone to get a jab, he said as doctor he favoured those who have been vaccinated to be able to attend school in person, use public transport, go to the theatre, restaurant or hotel when the delta variant is set to spread in the autumn and winter.

Poklukar said that the country had so far allocated EUR 53.5 million for rapid tests, nearly EUR 70 million for PCR tests, while the cost of more than 17,000 Covid hospitalisations had been EUR 195 million.

NIJZ has so far recorded the issuance of 160,626 certificates proving recovery from Covid, 103,471 PCR test certificates, 504,852 vaccination certificates and 257,431 rapid test certificates, which are data from all issuing points and apps.

Get the app for Apple's iOS or Google's Android operating systems. You'll need a national digital identity to activiate it.

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