Debate stresses role of information in tackling epidemic

Ljubljana – Slovenia’s chief epidemiologist Mario Fafangel and other participants of Friday’s online debate held by the STA Science portal highlighted the importance of exact and correct information regarding the epidemic for citizens and decision-makers. Fafangel announced data collection will be upgraded next week.

Citizens can see prevention measures are useful and take action on the basis of transparent data, Fafangel with the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) said.

The NIJZ stepped up efforts to digitalise its data collection system this year, however the upgrade came a bit late in the day, the head of the NIJZ’s Centre for Communicable Diseases said.

Additional improvements will follow next week in the form of a data hub. The system displaying mortality data will be amended as well.

Zarja Muršič with the national tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik said that the tracker sought to get its data from sources of information that were as direct as possible.

The tracker’s website is visited by 80,000-100,000 users per day. Visual data displays available to all are key to promote user-friendly presentations of statistics.

Leon Cizelj with the Jožef Stefan Institute meanwhile pointed out that long-term epidemic projections were particularly not reliable since people’s behaviour could not be forecast.

He believes Slovenians acted differently in spring when restrictions were effective.

Muršič also warned about premature positive forecasts that could imbue people with false hope and prompt more socialising.

Fafangel agreed that it was up to the individual to decide on their conduct, however he also highlighted that public health communication via bans is not a good option. People should be primarily enabled to act responsibly, he said.