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News roundup - Wednesday, 18 August

Ljubljana, 18 August - Below is a roundup of major events on Wednesday, 18 August:

EU ministers agree on additional aid to countries bordering Belarus

BRUSSELS, Belgium - EU home affair ministers agreed at an emergency session to send additional help in the form of experts and technical support to EU members bordering on Belarus, which have been facing a wave of illegal migrants. They also urged the EU to provide additional financial aid, calling for stepped up control on the bloc's external border. "We agreed that the aid should be stepped up given their needs," said Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, the current chair of the EU Council of Home Affairs Ministers. "Due to the rapidly changing circumstances on the ground Lithuania needs additional help, and Latvia and Poland also need our help," Hojs said.

Slovenia ready to accept additional Afghan aides

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia is ready to accept up to five members of the Afghan staff that worked with the EU, to show solidarity with other EU member states, Foreign Minister Anže Logar said, adding that, for the time being, Slovenia will not offer to take in additional refugees from Afghanistan. The statement comes after a meeting of the EU foreign ministers on the situation in Afghanistan, where it was agreed that the member states should do their utmost to assist Afghans who have worked with the European Common Foreign Service over the past 20 years.

Afghan interpreter who helped Slovenian army arrives at Kabul airport

LJUBLJANA - An interpreter who had helped the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) on its mission in Afghanistan has made it to Kabul airport along with his family. They are now waiting for the first available flight out of the country, Defence Minister Matej Tonin told the broadcaster Kanal A. The interpreter and his six-member family travelled four days to get from Herat to Kabul. It took them another two days to get to the airport, the N1 portal reported. According to N1, the interpreter and his family be granted asylum status.

Slovenia with highest daily count in new infections since 25 May

LJUBLJANA - From a total of 2,228 PCR tests analysed on Tuesday, 385 came back positive for coronavirus, with the positivity rate increasing to 17.3%, the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) said. This is the highest daily tally of new confirmed Covid-19 cases in Slovenia since 25 May. The 7-day average of new cases rose by 20 to 218 and the 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents by 11 to 118. There are currently 57 hospitalised patients, eight more than yesterday, while the number of patients in intensive care dropped by two to nine. Three Covid-19 patients died.

Ministry proposes self-testing for teachers in new school year

LJUBLJANA - Education officials would like to see in-person learning in the new academic year, said the Education Ministry after a meeting with head teachers, as it urged the government to green-light self-testing for teachers. This comes after the ministry proposed voluntary self-testing for secondary school students and pupils in the last three grades of primary school. It was decided today that the former would need to get tested once a week or more often if the epidemiological situation deteriorates. The decision on these requirements will be up to the government and its Covid-19 advisory group, which met this afternoon.
        
Slovenia's largest hospital preparing for surge in cases

LJUBLJANA - UKC Ljubljana, the country's largest hospital system, is getting ready to handle an anticipated surge in Covid-19 cases even as it performs all other health services to the maximum extent. The hospital is "ready for the challenge," said Matjaž Trontelj, the head of the hospital's governing board. The hospital currently has more than 250 beds ready for Covid-19 patients, according to Tatjana Lejko Zupanc, the head of the infectious diseases department. At the peak of the second wave of the epidemic, it handled 350 Covid-19 patients at the same time (at Covid and regular wards) plus 70 in intensive care units.

LMŠ announces no-confidence motions against environment, justice ministers

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) has drafted motions of no-confidence in the environment and justice ministers, Andrej Vizjak and Marjan Dikaučič. Vizjak is alleged to have broken the law, ignored the fundamental environment principles and excluded experts when drafting the waters bill, said LMŠ deputy group leader Brane Golubović. As for the motion against Dikaučič, Golubović highlighted his action regarding the non-appointment of European delegated prosecutors and "keeping silent when the unconstitutional bill on infectious diseases was being adopted". The announcement comes a day after the SocDems (SD) announced a vote of no confidence in the education minister.

Defence Minister Tonin meets Turkey and Kosovo counterparts

ISTANBUL - Defence Minister Matej Tonin attended the opening of the IDEF International Defence Industry Fair on Tuesday, where he also met his counterparts from Turkey and Kosovo. According to a statement from the ministry, the main topics discussed were the situation in Afghanistan and the wildfires in Turkey. Tonin expressed his condolences to his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar for the deaths caused by the wildfires in Turkey. He was also briefed by Akar on current developments in Afghanistan, in particular the situation in the wider Kabul airport area.

SD proposes turning Covid aid into interest-free loans

LJUBLJANA - As the government has helped companies during the pandemic with financial aid which companies must now return if their results are better than anticipated, the opposition Social Democrats (SD) have proposed the government transform the aid into interest-free loans to preserve jobs. The party argues the situation has not yet calmed down with the fourth wave of the epidemic looming, so returning the aid prematurely will drain companies and jeopardise jobs. "We need jobs, these companies must be preserved," said Milan Cvikl, the head of the SD's finance council.

Survey shows majority supports PCT rule for healthcare workers

LJUBLJANA - The idea of introducing the recovered-vaccinated-tested (PCT) rule for entering public places is supported by 48% of respondents and opposed by 52%, according to the survey by the pollster Valicon. Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of the respondents supported introducing the rule for healthcare employees. The latest #Newnormal survey also shows that the intention to get vaccinated is again significantly lower compared to the last measurement. In the first weekend of August, 62% of respondents reported intention to be vaccinated, down six percentage points from the end of July.

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© STA, 2021