Easing of restrictions likely on hold as fears mount over delta-driven new wave

Ljubljana – Health Minister Janez Poklukar indicated on Tuesday Slovenia would put any further easing of restrictions on hold over concerns that the delta variant of the novel coronavirus could lead to a renewed surge in infections.

Slovenia is entering a period when the easing of restrictions will likely stop and emphasis will be placed on implementation of the protocol under which those who have been vaccinated, tested or have recovered from coronavirus have access to certain services, he said.

“The better we implement this protocol, the fewer other restrictions there will be,” Poklukar said at a press conference at which the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) urged the people to get vaccinated en masse to help contain the pandemic.

Poklukar said the pandemic was dynamic. “We have learnt over the last 16 months that to manage the epidemic, we have to adjust certain measures on almost a daily basis.

The delta variant of coronavirus already accounts for over 40% of all cases, according to Tatjana Avšič Zupanc of the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, which does genetic sequencing of PCR test swabs.

All four vaccines currently in use in Slovenia are effective against the delta variant, she stressed.

Roman Jerala, the head of the Chemistry Institute’s Department of Synthetic Biology and Immunology, said Slovenia ought to vaccinate at least 100,000 every week in the coming months to achieve a sufficient vaccination rate.

Slovenia achieved that pace in early June, but vaccine take-up has since declined. Last week, only 63,000 doses of vaccine were delivered, mostly second shots, according to data tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik.

As of today, 39% of the population had received one shot of a coronavirus vaccine and 33% had been fully immunised.