Minister says risk too grave to ease Covid restrictions

Brežice – Health Minister Janez Poklukar has warned that Slovenia is yet to see the Omicron-driven wave of coronavirus outbreak hit its plateau, arguing the risk is still too great for any easing of restrictions.

Speaking to reporters as the country logged a record of almost 17,500 new coronavirus cases for the previous day, the minister said the risk would remain high until the curves of infections and hospital admissions started turning down.

The epidemic is still in expansion and this week alone 33% more patients have been hospitalised and there were 85% more fatalities than the week before, said the minister as he called on the Brežice general hospital during the government visit to the eastern region.

“We would like to reach the peak as soon a possible and as soon as we do it’ll be easier to breathe and talk of how to proceed,” he said.

Although the Omicron variant does not appear to cause so many hospitalisations, the caseload of infections is four-fold what it was with the Delta variant.

“Even if instead of 4% hospitalisation rate that we saw with Delta the hospitalisation rate is now 1%, with 30,000 positive tests a day it means 300 admissions,” he said, adding it was too early to say what the impact of Omicron to intensive units will be.

A total of 670 patients with Covid-19 were hospitalised this morning, including 127 in intensive care. Including Tuesday’s 14 fatalities, Covid-19 has claimed 6,268 lives in Slovenia, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

Poklukar noted that Slovenia had adapted testing and quarantine rules, hospital and lab organisation to Omicron, indicating talks are under way to follow suit of some other countries which have opted to issue QR codes for rapid tests as well to alleviate the burden on PCR testing facilities.