The press conference on COVID 19 updates was attended by the Minister of Health, Janez Poklukar, the Minister of Public Administration, Boštjan Koritnik, and the Director of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), Milan Krek.
Milan Krek said that the western half of Slovenia is now dark red on the new epidemiological map of the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), while the whole country is marked red. He explained that red colour for a particular country means that other countries should advise against all non-essential travel to and from the red-listed areas, and if an area is dark red, countries should strongly advise against non-essential travel.
Furthermore, at the EU level, 12 countries have an increased 14-day incidence rate, which means that the epidemic in the EU has not yet subsided. Krek warned that if the increase in the number of infections in Slovenia continues, there could be more than 2000 new cases of infection per day by the end of September, therefore new measures are urgently needed.
As regards vaccination coverage, Krek said that 51% of the population had received the first dose of vaccine and 45% had been fully vaccinated. In the 70–74 age group, 81% of people are vaccinated with the first dose and 77% are fully vaccinated.
He stressed that vaccination was the best measure to contain the pandemic and called for strict adherence to isolation and quarantine measures.
Minister Poklukar said that yesterday the Government adopted amendments to the Ordinance on the method of meeting the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus.
By this Ordinance, the Government has raised the age limit for the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule, making all persons under the age of 15 exempt from this rule as of 18 September 2021.
The Ordinance introduces an exemption for:
- persons included in guidance, care and employment under special conditions and
- persons who drop off, or pick up, a child or pupil at special social care and employment centres, centres for training, work and care and day care centres for the elderly.
Persons who are not required to meet the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule also include:
- healthcare service users who are about to be vaccinated or tested and
- postal service users if they are collecting parcels that have to be collected in person, as failure to do so would have legal consequences.
In addition to the above, exemptions from the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule that have already been defined last week remain in force. These are:
- pupils and students using public transport,
- persons who accompany a child under the age of 15, or a person unable to take care of themselves, to a healthcare service provider, and
- persons who drop off or pick up a child or a pupil at kindergarten, 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade of primary school, music school up to and including 2nd grade, primary school with an adapted programme or institution for the education of children and adolescents with special needs.
The Government has further defined the circumstances in which the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule does not apply. The rule does not apply to:
- urgent healthcare services, and
- urgent proceedings addressing social and family affairs.
In addition to the above amendments, the Ordinance also lays down the obligation of employees in state administration bodies to meet the recovered/vaccinated rule.
The Health Minister stressed that the Government is introducing the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule due to the serious situation we are currently facing, because a far more virulent delta variant of the coronavirus is among us, which is comparable to measles in terms of virulence. If sufficient vaccination coverage of people, especially those above 40 years of age, is achieved, the healthcare system will be able to keep operating without too large reduction of health services. A total of 19,160 people were vaccinated yesterday, which is a figure that all of us can be proud of. To date, 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Slovenia.
At the end of the conference, Minister Poklukar again called upon all people to vaccinate.
The Minister of Public Administration, Boštjan Koritnik, presented the new Ordinance, which introduces the recovered/vaccinated rule for the state administration as of 1 October 2021. This means that the work on the premises of state administration is only permitted if the recovered/vaccinated rule is met. The recovered/vaccinated rule will only apply to the core bodies of state administration (ministries, bodies within ministries, inspection services, police and armed forces, and administrative units) and not for the entire public sector. He pointed out that the measures is basically aimed at preventing the spread of infections in the workplace and thus ensure the uninterrupted operation of the state administration.
Minister Koritnik added that the Government wants to prevent the spread of virus among unvaccinated employees on the employers’ premises. An exemption will apply to employees who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons. Self-testing will be ensured for such employees.
The measure will start to apply as of 1 October 2021, giving the state administration bodies enough time to adapt and organise their work and the employees who have not yet decided to be vaccinated enough time obtain a vaccine.
One vaccine dose will suffice to meet the rule on 1 October 2021, provided that the second dose is obtained by 1 November 2021.
The fulfilment of the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule and vaccination are crucially important to overcome the current situation, concluded Minister Koritnik and called on everyone to act responsibly.