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Coronavirus epidemic in Slovenia seen as under control

Ljubljana, 17 April - The coronavirus epidemic in Slovenia is believed to be under control allowing public life to gradually re-start, but the danger is not over yet and significant caution will be needed going forward, the government's chief medical adviser for the coronavirus epidemic, Bojana Beović, told the press on Friday.

Ljubljana
Bojana Beović, who heads the Health Ministry's medical task force for coronavirus, says the coronavirus epidemic curve has turned downwards allowing public life to gradually return to normal.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

After the introduction of strict measures, such as the closure of schools and kindergartens and restrictions on the movement of people, the spread has slowed.

"The curve has now turned downwards and we can therefore start talking about a gradual relaxation of measures and steady normalisation of life," she said.

Beović presented estimates by several groups of researchers showing that the reproduction rate, which shows how many people one patient infects on average, had dropped to below one, which epidemics experts see as a point at which an epidemic starts to subside.

While some estimates she showed put it at over one, others have placed it significantly lower, to between 0.7 and 0.8.

But Beović was also quick to point out that this was not an epidemic that will end like SARS did. She said Slovenia was now in a transitional phase from an epidemic wave to a phase in which the epidemic will simmer and new outbreaks will be possible.

This means epidemiologists working in the field will have their work cut out trying to contain such outbreaks.

It also means people will have to continue abiding by measures such as wearing face masks in closed public spaces, using hand sanitizer and prevent physical contact.

"If we adhere to these measures, we'll be able to gradually open the country," the doctor said.

Slovenia entered lockdown on 20 March and measures were stepped up on 30 March, when most movement outside the home municipality was banned. Most retail outlets were closed on 16 March.

The first significant relaxation of measures starts on Saturday, when people will be allowed to go to their properties in a different municipality.

On Monday some services activities will be allowed to open, with a new wave of relaxation scheduled for 4 May, when small shops up to 400 square metres will be allowed to open, as well as hairdressers, beauty parlours and several other service establishments.

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© STA, 2020