Relaxation of all measures possible when Slovenia enters EU’s green tier

Ljubljana – The government’s Covid-19 advisory group does not intend to propose any substantial changes regarding Covid restrictions this week. Mateja Logar, the head of the group, said on Monday that a complete relaxation of measures could be put forward when Slovenia is in tier green according to the EU’s traffic light system.

To reach this point, the country’s 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents must fall below 25 and the rate of positive coronavirus tests below 4%.

The latest data by Slovenia’s National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) show that the first figure stood at 173 on Sunday, whereas the positivity rate was 4.3%.

Logar pointed out at today’s Covid briefing that Slovenia was thus currently still in the red tier under the traffic light system by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The country has however already reached tier green if taking into account its own traffic light system.

According to a forecast by the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS), Slovenia could enter the EU’s orange tier of restrictions in mid-June and the green tier in the first half of August.

The reproduction number, meaning the number of secondary cases per infectious case, is currently 0.88. IJS experts said today that the figure should fall below 0.7 to avoid the risk of a spread of more virulent strains of the coronavirus.

Currently, the share of active infections is 0.4% of the population or approximately one in 250 Slovenian residents.

Asked about the reasons for the Slovenian roadmap for easing the restrictions being milder than the EU’s, Logar said that was mainly because of country-specific sociological characteristics.

She highlighted the fact that that Austria had the 14-day incidence three times lower than Slovenia, nevertheless the restrictions in Slovenia and Austria were comparable.

The epidemic in Slovenia is partly subsiding, however the situation is not yet what we would like it to be, she said.

“We know from the experience of the past year that being too quick to relax the restrictions leads to another increase in infections. Although we’re doing better, we still need to be cautious and heed current measures,” she said.

Asked about the possibility to make the option of self-testing available to all and not just students, Logar said that the current legislation would need to be amended to allow for that. Under the current law, microbiological testing could only be performed by qualified lab workers.

She also said that in the event of self-testing being available to all, there should be safeguards in place to prevent any abuse. The option will be discussed if there are no major improvements regarding the epidemiological status.

Touching upon the vaccination for youths aged 12-15, Logar said that experts had no reservations about it. According to her, if there are any hesitations about this, they are related to the logistics of such an upgrade of the vaccination strategy.

She also said that Covid-19 vaccination of children had been carried out before in the case of those with underlying conditions.

The vaccination pace in Slovenia is gradually picking up. So far, more than 34% of the population has received at least one shot and 22.8% are fully inoculated, show NIJZ data.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) said today that companies had capitalised on the option of workplace vaccination programmes. The GZS would like to see herd immunity in Slovenia being reached as soon as possible.