After a record number of infections (108) with the new coronavirus, Slovenia recorded 105 infections and 769 active cases of the disease on Friday. Maribor, which at the end of May boasted about being completely coronavirus-free, found itself on the red list at the expense of an increase in infections. New daily records of infections are also being reported from other European countries. The figures are particularly worrisome in Hungary as well as in the Czech Republic and Ukraine.
"These numbers are not comparable to the numbers in the first wave," said the head of the advisory group within the Ministry of Health, dr. Bojana Beović. In the first wave, we did not have enough laboratory capacity. We didn’t know what would happen to the tests, to the reagents. “Only sicker individuals were tested, later also individuals coming from infected families or teams. But in these cases, only one individual was tested.”
"Because the country was closed off, there was no transition between municipalities and no socializing, thus there was no need for extensive testing," Beović said, adding that now the approach is different. The country is open, each individual does something different: one is in kindergarten, one is in school, parents are at work. “It is crucial to know for every person whether they are infected or not in order to control the infection. We have witnessed a worrying increase in the number of cases, which can lead to many people needing admission to hospitals, which could result in the shutdown of the health care system in other areas, ”Beović pointed out.
In Slovenia, we are already facing the third wave, which is the result of imported cases from abroad. First from Italy, at the beginning of the summer from the Western Balkans and now from Croatia. “The Italian wave was not as big as the current one that came from Croatia. Obviously, this steep increase in the nearby countries (Hungary, Czech Republic) may be due to the return of tourist. Something else also happened in Slovenia. Mostly young people got sick, which is good in its own way as there were less seriously ill patients. Fellow epidemiologists in the field found that the infected do not list all the people they were in contact with, making it impossible to quarantine these contacts and prevent the further spread of COVID-19." Beović emphasized that it would be better if the border with Croatia had closed sooner than it had saying, "that the boarder had not closed sooner not only because of the government, but also because there was a lot of pressure from people, who were saying we should not take their vacation away. I myself received a plethora of emails on this topic. Additionally, people also had to be given time to return home,” she added.
Coronavirus does not leave lasting immunity
According to Beović, the Swedes were more infected with COVID-19 than Slovenians, but still not enough people have enough antibodies to stop the new wave of the epidemic if it were brought to the country from abroad. “We reckon there will be new infections because the coronavirus does not leave a lasting immunity. Initially, we wanted to protect our health and lives with intensive measures, but during this time we gained some knowledge, experience and time to be able to better respond to individual problems. The idea of a hammer and a dance is a few months old now. It was an idea of one expert, who was of the opinion that this method would be successful, ”she pointed out, adding that we do not really know yet whether such a way of adapting to the situation by closing here and there is successful, because in many countries the second wave is very extensive and it is a question of whether it can be limited through such individualized ways.
Strict implementation of measures makes the most sense. When asked about the possible closure of municipalities in order to prevent the number of infections, Beović said that if we look at the map of Slovenia, it is in such colors that it is difficult to imagine what would be wise to close. “If we decided to close municipalities again, it would probably make sense to close them in a similar fashion as it was done in the spring. Other measures are possible. Currently the easiest and most sensible way to tackle the problem of increasing infections is strict implementation of measures that are already in force, namely inspections and warnings. If nothing else, fines and perhaps the closure of bars that do not abide by given instructions and measures would be a logical next step.”
The number of infections in neighboring countries is increasing. “Health and life-wise, this wave could be terminated by the re-closure of the state borders as that would prevent new entries of COVID-19 into Slovenia. One study, an analysis of the first wave in several European countries, showed that a blockade and closure of state boarders is the most effective measure. ” Of course, according to Beović, there are many reasons why it is understandable that no government will probably follow this path and will, if possible, do things differently with as few victims as possible.
Beović also pointed out that no country in the world with a large number of newly infected, was able to avoid the risk of some becoming seriously ill and needing hospital care. “For now, things are under control. We are preparing for the worst while thinking about how to increase our capacities. ” She spoke of Croatia as an example of the seriousness of the situation, where they have had a growing trend of infections for a month now, and thus also an increased need for hospital beds. In our country, such a situation would mean the need for 150-200 beds for patients with COVID-19. She warned that it is necessary to be aware that the Slovenian health care system is relatively modest, not to mention that a bed does not only refer to a piece of iron and to a mattress, but also to people who treat and care for patients.