Epidemic no more?

On June 15th Covid-19 epidemic in Slovenia officially ended. But as it turns out nothing has really changed.

Dnevnik takes issue with formal end of epidemic

Dnevnik argues in Wednesday’s commentary that the formal end of the coronavirus epidemic does not change anything, it merely creates confusion and undermines public trust in the authorities.

“Today, the first day after eight months that the epidemic is not officially declared, is no different that yesterday, when the epidemic was still declared. And therein lies the gist of the problem with declaring and ending epidemics,” the paper says in Epidemic Yes, Epidemic No.

The commentator recalls the first time the coronavirus epidemic was formally declared over, on 30 May last year, when the government adopted the decision at an evening session, only to then transpire that the move was guided not by medicine but by politics since extending the epidemic would require the continued payment of Covid bonuses.

Health officials now say that the end of the epidemic does not mean anything since all restrictions remain in place, even as the law on communicable diseases states that an epidemic is a state when a communicable disease spreads to the extent that restrictions are required.

“This epidemic horse-trading can have disastrous consequences in the future. It gives the people the impression that it is declared and ended not because of a dangerous disease but because of the payment of Covid bonuses, the ruling party’s congress or the coming presidency of the EU.

“And if the epidemic has nothing to do with the health situation, being nothing but a momentary inspiration by those in power, it may well happen that the next time a more serious disease than Covid hits Slovenia, nobody will take the declared epidemic seriously.”

Primorske Novice airs grievances as epidemic formally ends

Noting the end to a second state of epidemic in Slovenia, the regional newspaper Primorske Novice says on Wednesday the feeling is bad because the country needlessly paid too high a toll.

“The feeling is bad because in the past months due to measures that were not thought through well enough or belated, we needlessly paid a too high price in lives, psychosocial consequences and damage to business.”

The paper also complains about Covid bonuses in the public sector, which it says in many instances could be described as “throwing away much needed taxpayer money”.

“This means less money for aid that would in fact be justified and sensible like aid for locked-down businesses,” the paper writes, advising the government to distribute funds more fairly and wisely in the future, starting with the emergency bill to help the tourism and hospitality sector.

Noting that there will be no F-16 flypast this time because there is noting to celebrate and the virus has not been beaten, the paper also expresses doubt that the country will reach the desired vaccination rate in the commentary headlined Tough Grounding Instead of a Flypast.

Finance irked by Covid bonuses, pace of vaccination

The newspaper Finance reflects on the efficiency of the government’s response to coronavirus and its fallout as the state of epidemic has formally ended in Slovenia, wondering in the headline of Wednesday’s commentary Why Are We Worse Than EU Average Again.

The paper notes that Covid measures have cost the state EUR 4.5 billion since the first wave of the epidemic in March last year. “It is more than a quarter of last year’s fiscal revenue […] more than all personal income tax collected.”

The paper wonders why the billions are likely to cost Slovenians more than an average European, citing the Fiscal Council in finding that Slovenia paid more than average for the measures while the effects have been below the EU average.

The paper says Slovenia also stands out by Covid bonuses paid out to public sector employees: “We are record holders, the public sector […] is the winner of the Covid crisis.”

The paper complains that bonuses were paid out to almost everyone in the public sector, “including those who were exposed to coronavirus at work about as much as the author of this article”.

Finally, the paper also complains that Slovenia is doing worse than European Economic Area average by the share of the population vaccinated with the first dose, wondering whether going forward government measures would be more effective.