South African variant of novel coronavirus confirmed in Slovenia

Ljubljana – The first case of the South African variant of the novel coronavirus was confirmed in Slovenia on Friday, Health Minister Janez Poklukar told the press. The person from the area of Maribor in the north-east of the country has recently returned from Africa and was vaccinated against the coronavirus before travelling there.

Earlier this week several media reported that a doctor working at the UKC Maribor hospital was suspected of having contracted the South African variant of the virus. He was said to have returned from a vacation in Namibia at the weekend and came to work on Monday.

“Epidemiologists have traced all highly risks contacts, and four persons have been referred to get tested and ten persons have been sent into quarantine. Two persons who returned from Africa with the first one have fallen ill, most probably with the South African variant,” Poklukar said at a news conference in Ljubljana.

Since all highly risky contacts have been identified and sent into quarantine, the minister said no additional measures were required at this point.

However, out of precaution, the National Laboratory of Health and the Institute of Microbiology will from now on do genetic sequencing of not only 10% but of 30% of all positive PCR tests in the region of Maribor per week.

“Today’s case shows that the epidemic is not over yet,” said the minister, advising against “spring merrymaking I can see in city streets” and urging all to abide by the basic measures such as face masks, social distancing, open windows, hand sanitiser, and self-isolation in case of the disease or a risky contact.

The minister called on residents not to travel abroad, saying a number of countries around Slovenia had a worse epidemiological situation than Slovenia, including higher rates of the new, highly virulent variants of the novel coronavirus.

Until now, only 35 cases of the UK variant have been confirmed in Slovenia.