The Slovenia Times

PM says no major easing can be expected in coming weeks

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Ljubljana - No major easing of anti-epidemic restrictions can be expected in the coming weeks, Prime Minister Janez Janša said on Friday, adding that the government would stick to the plan of easing adopted earlier this month, which means that schools and businesses might have to close again if the situation deteriorated.

Janša said at the government's daily coronavirus briefing Slovenia was likely entering a third wave of the epidemic due to the presence of the British strain of the virus. He is nevertheless optimistic that this will be the last wave owing to vaccination.

He believes that Slovenia can achieve immunity of 70% of the population by the summer, if BionTech/Pfizer and Moderna deliver the agreed quantity of their vaccines. Slovenia has so far received over 76,000 doses and more than 100,000 doses of the two vaccines are expected in February.

He noted that approval of the AstraZeneca vaccination was being discussed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) today. Slovenia is to receive 80,000 doses of the vaccine in February, which is significantly fewer than expected.

"This is their most recent announcement, but we are not taking it as a guarantee. If you ask me, it's better to count on Johnson&Johnson than on AstraZeneca for this summer."

Immunisation will have an effect on restrictive measures, however the bulk of deliveries is planned for the second quarter of the year, the prime minister said, adding that no major easing of restrictions could be expected in the coming weeks.

Moreover, the British strain has been confirmed to have been present in Slovenia as early as in December, said Janša, regretting that the confirmation was made with a delay. He appealed to experts to detect other existing strains of the virus with smaller delays.

Janša moreover called for cooperation, appealing above all to mayors, saying much could be done on the local level with the help of Civil Protection and also in terms of oversight.

He moreover called on the media for cooperation, saying that welcoming each measure with negative expectations does not contribute to overcoming the epidemic.

Janša also said that the health and labour inspectorates would step up oversight in businesses so as to ensure that restrictions are being respected.

He said that in-person education would take place in the red-tiered regions on Monday after it was said yesterday that this would not be possible due to testing of staff.

Janša said that the Association of Head Teachers had conducted a survey in which 80% of head teachers said it was possible to carry out testing and in-person classes in their schools on the same day.

When asked if he had a message for the youths who are being remote educated, Janša said the consequences of the epidemic were well known. But while some damage was irreparable, a month of school or a bout of idleness can be made up for.


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