Surge in coronavirus amid scaled-up testing

Ljubljana – As many as 2,501 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Monday, the second highest daily increase to date, as almost 23,500 PCR and antigen tests were performed, the largest number yet, following scaled-down testing over the extended holiday weekend. Another 30 patients with Covid-19 lost their lives, government data show.

Of the 5,966 PRC tests performed yesterday, 1,680 or 28% came back positive, while 821 infections were detected from 17,531 rapid antigen tests, for a positivity rate of 4.7%, show data presented by Jelko Kacin, the government’s coronavirus spokesman.

The surge comes after a drop in cases over the extended holiday weekend when testing is as a rule scaled down. Yesterday, rapid testing became available at community health centres and many companies had their staff tested as did schools for children with special needs before reopening for in-person teaching today.

The hardest hit region remains Posavska in the east with a seven-day incidence of 1,037 per 100,000 as of 3 January, followed by SE Slovenia with 797. The national average is 520,9, with six regions below and six above that figure. The 14-day average is 972.

In Brežice, the centre of Posavska region, the hospital is still waiting for the vaccine for its staff and has received no explanation about the delay or when to expect the vaccine, hospital director Anica Hribar said.

Meanwhile, its Covid-19 ward is at capacity. While all ward beds are full, only one of its two ICU ventilation beds is free at the moment, she said, adding that patients would have to be moved if the situation keeps getting worse.

Covid-19 hospitalisations fell by 16 to 1,193 after 112 patients were newly admitted and 108 were discharged yesterday. The number of patients in intensive care units dropped by six to 188.

Since the start of the pandemic, Slovenia has recorded more than 128,000 coronavirus cases. A total of 2,868 patients with Covid-19 have died, according to the tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org. The site estimates the number of active cases at 20,510.

Data from care homes presented by Kacin show that infections were confirmed yesterday in 51 residents and 30 employees. In the five facilities for people with special needs 14 residents and one employee tested positive.

Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said that a total of 10,036 care home residents and 3,789 staff have recovered from Covid-19 or are still infected, that is out of totals of 18,700 and 9,108, respectively.

He said that 8,116 residents and 1,848 staff at aged-care facilities had already been vaccinated against Covid-19 as the facilities were to get a further 2,199 doses today, with another 701 to be supplied to facilities for adults with special needs.

“Those who haven’t been inoculated, because they were infected at the time, will be vaccinated in the coming rounds of vaccination,” the minister told the daily morning briefing.

The government last week expanded the requirement for regular rapid antigen testing to home care, social services and social care programmes providers.

Meanwhile, Kacin also provided more information about the death reported to the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) following vaccination. Initial expert opinions indicate that the patient had died of a repeat heart attack and that their death was unrelated to the vaccine.

The person who died was an elderly resident of a care home who decided themselves that they wanted to get vaccinated, the speaker said.

In line with standard procedure, a commission of independent experts will be appointed to look into the case and present its final results to the public, Kacin said.