Slovenia and COVID-19: most of the cases of infection are imported, the numbers are currently under control

Foto: Matic Štojs Lomovšek

On Tuesday, the government held a press conference, due to the so-called “fake news,” which claimed that people should leave Croatia, and the increased number of infections. At the press conference, the head of the Communicable Disease Centre at the National Institute of Public Health, Mario Fafangel, said that the number of infected people is growing worldwide, and therefore, it is difficult to talk about a second wave. Currently, there is a smaller number of imported cases of infections in Slovenia, and for now, the numbers are under control.

On Tuesday, the government had organized a press conference, which, according to the government spokesperson, Jelko Kacin, was the result of the so-called “fake news,” claiming that people should leave Croatia, and the recent increase in the number of infections. The intention of the press conference was to present the latest epidemiological picture in Slovenia and its neighbouring countries, and it should also serve as a reminder that COVID-19 is still among us and the self-protection measures, which were adopted during the epidemic, are still in force. “Based on the epidemiological recommendations of the National Institute of Public Health (Nacionalni inštitut za javno zdravje – hereinafter referred to as NIJZ), the government has already introduced a stricter regime for border crossings and added three countries to the “red list.” Today, the government will meet to consider further measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections.”

Based on the recommendations of the experts, the latest epidemiological data, and the practices of other European countries, the government will decide on possible new measures by Wednesday.

“Let’s not forget about the existing self-protection measures, which are still in force: hand washing, cough etiquette, maintaining an appropriate physical distance, wearing masks indoors (where it is not possible to maintain physical distance), in the hospitals, when showing signs of respiratory problems, in public educational institutions, nursing homes, on public transport,” Kacin emphasized. He reminded everyone that there are still 16 COVID-19 testing checkpoints in Slovenia and said that they should call their personal physician in case of a suspected infection, who would then refer the individual for testing by telephone. If anyone suspects they are infected, they should not go to the doctor, to the hospital, or to the testing point in person, but should instead call.

The number of infected people is growing worldwide
Head of the Communicable Disease Centre at the National Institute of Public Health, dr. Mario Fafangel, initially said that since the number of infected people is still growing, we cannot yet talk about the second wave of the epidemic, but rather, about peaks, while the epidemic continues. In Europe, the numbers are stable, but we need to stay cautious, in order to protect Europe, and the world, together: “The four-day cumulative incidence per 100 thousand inhabitants in the world helps us decide when to take action and shows what the situation is like and where the risks are comparable. In our country, it has been rising in recent days, but the situation is still very good.”

A small number of infections in Slovenia, the situation still under control
They are still testing intensively, and in the last two days, there have been 14 new infections: “Our epidemiological curve shows the beginning on March 4th, a peak with 63 new cases in a day, and a decline, as well as the period with 0 new cases in a day. This is then followed by repeated cases, which were expected, due to the opening of the borders. There is a small number of new, imported cases, which is currently under control.”

Regarding this, Fafangle said that if the numbers continue to fluctuate, this will not be worrying, but if the number of infected people starts to increase continuously, they will advise for various measures to be adopted.

They have also published the weekly reviews of infections, according to the most likely source of infection. For example, last week, we had 13 imported cases (5 from Bosnia and Herzegovina, 6 from Serbia, 1 from Sweden, 1 from the USA), and 10 cases related to the imported cases.

“There has been no clear infection in Slovenia; the source of infection is unknown in two cases. The epidemiologists are not worried about the absolute number, we are worried about whether or not the imported cases are actually in quarantine,” Fafangel said.

“The mandatory quarantine for the people coming from countries that have not been assessed as safe is important to us. Thus, the burden on the epidemiological service is lower, as well as the burden on the healthcare system, and the risk of the virus spreading is also significantly lower,” Fafangel said, emphasizing that the numbers are currently still under control. He also said the following: “Let’s act self-protectively, if quarantine is ordered, you need to actually act accordingly. We find that there is more contact with those infected now, so we need to help each other and stay where we are.”

Rok Krajnc