The Slovenia Times

Health experts propose phasing out Covid pass and quarantine


Ljubljana - Health experts outlined a gradual easing of measures against the Covid-19 epidemic at a consultation with the government on Tuesday, proposing the abolition of the Covid pass for shops, banks, post offices and administrative units, and the abolition of quarantines in case of high-risk contacts.

Health experts have proposed several ways to loosen the anti-epidemic measures, said Mateja Logar, head of the government's Covid-19 expert group, after the consultation on the current epidemiological situation.

As announced by Health Minister Janez Poklukar at a press conference after the meeting, the experts discussed the gradual phasing out of the recovered, vaccinated, tested (PCT) rule, testing and quarantines, among other things.

Logar said that the expert group would propose to the government to scrap the PCT rule for activities where the risk of transmission is relatively low due to short-term contacts - retail, administrative units, banks, post offices, petrol stations.

However, they propose to maintain the rule that sets out a maximum number of people inside such establishments at the same time, and it is still important to maintain general hygiene measures, as well as to keep remote work where possible, she added.

The experts stressed that it was still important to respect the basic principle of staying at home if a person is sick. They will also propose some changes to the operation of other sectors, such as catering, congress and trade fair activities.

In the catering sector, they will propose to abolish the PCT rule in outdoor areas, while maintaining the limit on the number of guests on terraces or gardens. Scrapping the PCT rule for the interior of pubs is not being considered for the time being.

Slovenia's chief epidemiologist Mario Fafangel said that experts also propose to end quarantines for high-risk contacts and to stop searching for high-risk contacts of an infected person.

Fafangel believes that contact searching "simply no longer produces the desired results". The responsibility for notifying people of high-risk contacts will now rest with the infected individuals themselves.

Epidemiologists also suggest that people who have had high-risk contacts within the same household should test themselves regularly for seven days from the date of contact.

Any changes are still to be decided on by the government, but minister Poklukar said that imposing mandatory quarantines in case of high-risk contacts could come to end as early as Friday.

"I will deliver all these recommendations to the government and I am confident that we can implement many of them relatively quickly in the next few days by amending the decrees currently in force," he added.

He also announced that free rapid testing will be phased out alongside the phasing out of the PCT rule, while Logar added that a PCR test will again become the norm to confirm infection in people with coronavirus symptoms.

Poklukar also stressed that protecting the most vulnerable people and the healthcare system itself remained the top priority, especially in light of the number of hospital beds occupied by patients with Covid-19, which is still relatively high.

However, given that the number of people that require hospitalisation is steadily dropping, hospitals anticipate that they could return to normal operation soon after 10 March, according to current projections.

Logar also said that the opinions and recommendations of the expert group have taken into account the characteristics of the omicron variant, as it can now be confirmed that it causes a slightly different and milder form of the disease.

Bojana Beović, the head of the national advisory committee on immunisation, believes that no new and more infectious variants than the omicron are expected to emerge, but added that the virus's future disease-causing capacities were still unclear.


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