STA, 3 March 2022 - Teenagers aged 12 to 18 can now get a coronavirus booster shot after this change to vaccination has been recommended by the task force on immunisation at the National Institute of Public Health. They will get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine booster, the task force's head Bojana Beović told the STA on Thursday.
The immunisation group recommends booster for the children aged 12 to 18 who suffer from diseases that could worsen their Covid-19 should they fall ill with it.
"However, healthy youth can also get vaccinated with a booster shot," stressed Beović.
The immunisation group followed the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) human medicines committee from 24 February.
The committee said the available evidence was sufficient to conclude that the immune response to a booster dose in adolescents would be at least equal to that in adults.
A booster shot is recommended three months after the basic two-dose vaccination.
Those who have recovered from Covid but have not been vaccinated are meanwhile recommended to receive a booster three to six months after recovering from the disease.
EMA last week also approved the Moderna vaccine for children over 6, which has so far been approved only for kids over 12, but the Slovenian immunisation task force has not yet discussed this change.
STA, 3 March 2022 - Face masks will no longer be obligatory in schools and other educational institutions as of Monday under the latest relaxation of restrictions that the government confirmed on Thursday. This applies to both teachers and students, Health Minister Janez Poklukar said.
Other restrictions remain in place for now, including the mask mandate for indoor public spaces.
Slovenian health authorities will start issuing Covid certificates for those who had a positive rapid antigen test whose results were not confirmed with a PCR test.
According to Poklukar, this is in line with the latest EU guidance.
Slovenia has phased out the Covid pass in most settings, with only health institutions, care homes and prisons now requiring a Covid pass for visitors.
STA, 23 February 2022 - The police dealt with 693 instances of illegal migration in the first month of 2022 alone, more than double the figure recorded in January last year. By far the largest number of illegal migrants caught last month were Afghans, which is to be expected given the situation in the country, the police said.
The Afghan nationals accounted for almost half of all the migrants caught crossing the border illegally in January.
The Koper Police Department remains the busiest in catching illegal migrants, as nearly half of all the January cases were processed there, 328, a year-on-year increase of some two-thirds.
The number of caught illegal migrants increased also in the Novo Mesto area, where 19 cases were recorded in the same month last year and 162 in January 2022. The Maribor Police Department saw the number of illegal crossings rose from 70 to 125 year-on-year.
The number of requests for international protection was also much higher. The total was more than 500, three times more than in January last year, representing a marked increase in the number of Afghan citizens seeking asylum.
The developments may indicate an expected increase in illegal migration during the rest of the year, the police said.
STA, 20 February 2022 - Slovenia will lift Covid restrictions on shops, services and other businesses on Monday, including restrictions on opening hours of hospitality establishments and the ban on night clubs, under a decision taken by the government on Saturday.
The decision was taken as the government gave its go ahead to scrap the Covid pass mandate for all activities except for healthcare institutions, care homes and prisons from Monday. The cap on the number of customers in services is also being lifted.
Under restrictions imposed in early November last year, bars, cafes and restaurants have so far been allowed to serve customers at tables between 5am and 10pm provided they had a valid Covid pass. Night clubs have been closed.
In announcing the easing of measures on businesses, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said the government opted for a balanced approach to keep protecting the health of the most-at-risk groups while at the same time allowing life to resume as normal as possible and business to function efficiently.
"We have thus met the calls from the economy as far as the medical experts have allowed," said the minister, calling for everyone to continue to act responsibly. "The economy can function efficiently and intensively only if the employees are healthy," he added.
STA, 8 February 2022 - Culture Day, a public holiday marking the anniversary of the death of poet France Prešeren (1800-1849), will be celebrated in Slovenia on Tuesday in a limited form, as there will be no traditional event at Prešeren's birth house in Vrba, and the recital of Prešeren's poetry will be broadcast on the radio.
One of the rare live events that will mark the holiday celebrating the Slovenian culture will be held at the Presidential Palace, which will host an open day for the public.
On the occasion, President Borut Pahor will address the citizens alongside one of the two recipients of this year's Prešeren Prize for lifetime achievement, translator Kajetan Gantar.
Prior to that, Pahor and Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti will lay a wreath at the monument to France Prešeren in Ljubljana.
The traditional recital of Prešeren's poetry will not be held in person this year, it will be instead broadcast live from the studios of Radio Slovenija, Radio Maribor, and Europe Square that straddles Italy's Gorizia and Slovenia's Nova Gorica.
Organised by the Slovenian Association of Dramatic Artists, the broadcast will resound through the loudspeakers in the streets of Ljubljana, Maribor, Kranj, Koper, Celje and Nova Gorica and in front of Prešeren's birth house in the village of Vrba.
There will be no traditional celebration in Vrba this year, and hikes along the local cultural heritage trail have also been cancelled due to the epidemiological situation.
The local authorities and the tourism and culture centre have nevertheless invited people to visit the birthplaces of Prešeren and other important cultural figures on this day.
While the traditional Prešeren Fair in Kranj will also be held in a limited form, numerous cultural institutions around Slovenia have invited people to attend open door events and related events after the holiday.
On the eve of Culture Day, the Prešeren Prizes, the top national awards in culture, were conferred at a ceremony in Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana, with Gantar and conductor and musicologist Mirko Cuderman receiving the lifetime achievement awards.
STA, 7 February 2022 - Slovenia recorded an excess mortality rate of 15% last year, when the Covid-19 epidemic was in full swing, the Statistics Office said on Monday. The worst month of 2021 was November, when 49% more people died than the average for the same period in 2015-2019.
The excess mortality rate represents the excess of the number of deaths over the average number of deaths in previous years during the same period, the Statistics Office explained.
According to provisional data, a total of 23,177 people died in Slovenia in 2021, which is 2,589 more than in 2019 - before the outbreak of the coronavirus, but 839 (3%) fewer than in 2020.
The year before last was when the Covid-19 epidemic was at its worse in Slovenia, as the excess mortality rate was even higher than last year at almost 19%, with a total of 24,016 deaths recorded in 2020.
However, very high excess mortality was also recorded in November 2021, at almost 50%, followed by January and December 2021, at 28%.
In December last year, 2,287 people died in Slovenia, which is 951 fewer than in December 2020 and 419 more than in the same month in 2019. On average, 74 people died per day in December 2021.
A total of 1507 people aged 75 or over died in December last year, which accounts for 66% of the total number of deaths in that month. Compared to the average number of deaths in the same age group in 2015-2019, this number was 27% higher.
STA, 1 February 2022 - Ljubljana is among the capital cities with the highest ratings in Europe in terms of urban tree cover and total green infrastructure, while it is sub-par in terms of public access to the city's abundant green spaces, shows a report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) on Tuesday.
High-quality public green and blue spaces and infrastructure in cities, like parks, gardens, riverbanks and coastlines, are crucial for health and well-being, said the EEA briefing.
It also shows that access to such spaces differs in cities across Europe. Green infrastructure made up on average 42% of the city area in 38 EEA member countries, according to the latest data available.
In terms of the percentage of urban tree cover and total green infrastructure, Ljubljana ranked third among the EEA members' capital cities in both indicators with 67% and 50%, respectively.
The only cities with more urban tree cover were Oslo (72%) and Bern (53%), while only Oslo and Zagreb have overtaken Ljubljana in terms of total green infrastructure with 77% and 74%, respectively.
Data shows that average urban tree cover for cities in 38 EEA countries stood at 30%, with cities in Finland and Norway having the highest proportion of tree cover, while cities in Cyprus, Iceland and Malta had the lowest.
Meanwhile, publicly accessible green areas still form a relatively low proportion of total green space in cities, estimated at only 3% of the total city area on average. Ljubljana ranked below the EEA average with just 1%, trailed only by Iceland's Reykjavik.
STA, 31 January 2021 - The Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief performed 654 interventions related to unexploded ordnance items in Slovenia last year, which means almost two per day and 30% more than last year. A total of 4,271 unexploded ordnance items were found in 2021, up by 20% on the previous year.
The increase in terms of total mass was even greater, with 13,363 kilograms of bombs removed, a 70% increase compared to 2020, Igor Boh of the administration's bomb disposal unit told the press on Monday.
Various forms of explosives are defined as unexploded ordnance - different types of bombs, land mines, artillery shells, aerial bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, dynamite, ammunition for firearms and detonators, among others.
Boh attributes a part of the increase in the number of finds to the epidemic, as people were home-bound more often and spent more time working in gardens or forests.
Unexploded ordnance items are most often found in the northern part of the western Primorska region, where two fatal accidents occurred last year as two men perished when they tried to take apart old explosive devices they had found.
Boh has urged collectors of military paraphernalia and explosive devices from the times of war to leave them be, and instead collect things that are not in any way explosive or dangerous.
He also said that it was very important to perform preventive inspections before the ground is disturbed and construction work begins in places where the probability of finding unexploded ordnance items is higher.
Boh recalled the most recent case of such kind in Maribor in January, where an unexploded WWII bomb has been found, neutralised and successfully removed from a construction site.
In many cases, the danger due to the increasing age of discovered bombs means that they have to be destroyed on site. There were 167 such cases last year, and a total of 3,021 items weighing more than seven tonnes were destroyed.
STA, 31 January 2022 - Farmers have been pointing out the serious damage caused by wild animals, as the Slovenian Forest Service (ZGS) estimates that it amounts to between EUR 400,000 and EUR 800,000 per year. The most affected region is Pomurje in the north-east, and the damage is most often caused by wild boars and deer.
The Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry has recently issued warnings of damage in agriculture caused by wild animals, particularly boars, saying that this is already threatening the survival of farms in certain cases.
The chamber expects hunters to continue the intensive culling and the state to take appropriate action, which was also the message it sent to Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek, who responded by urging the chamber to report the damage.
The ZGS's data for the last decade show that the amount of damage is fluctuating. The statistics are strongly dominated by agricultural damage, with additional smaller proportions of damage to forests and other property, the forest service said.
In the period between 2011 and 2020, annual damage reports were between EUR 424,000 in 2016 to almost EUR 788,000 in 2013. The ZGS added that data for last year was unavailable as of yet, but the damage was expected to be among the highest in recent years.
The Agriculture Ministry's data on compensation paid out for damage since 2001 show that the amounts paid out were below EUR 462,000 per year until 2007, while they have been well above this amount on several occasions since 2008.
Wild boar and deer usually cause the most damage - in the period between 2011 and 2020, boars accounted for an estimated 64% of all damage, deer for 32% and all other wildlife species for a total of 4%.
The situation is the worst in the north-eastern region of Pomurje, which accounted for 55% of all assessed wildlife damage caused in Slovenia in 2020.
However, these amounts do not include damage caused by protected species such as brown bears, wolves or birds, which fall under the responsibility of the Environment Ministry.
The ZGS assessed that brown bears had caused around EUR 204,000 in damages last year, followed by songbirds with around EUR 191,000 and wolves with approximately EUR 83,000.
A total of 148 brown bears were culled in Slovenia last year, of which 128 were hunted. The total amount of wolves removed last year was six, out of which three were culled in accordance with valid permits.
No culling of wolves is planned for this year, unless the Environment Ministry finds it necessary under certain circumstances, like in the event of repeated attacks by wolves on domestic animals, which could lead to serious damage to people's property.
STA, 30 January 2022 - An average Slovenian drank 35 litres of wine, or just over 46 standard bottles, in the marketing year 2020-2021, that is nearly three litres a month. The country's wine consumption in this period totalled 764,000 hectolitres, and the self-sufficiency rate stood at 95%, according to data released by the Statistics Office.
Slovenia produced 725,000 hectolitres of wine during this period, with white wine accounting for 70%.
Wines with a protected designation of origin contributed 58% to the country's total wine production, or 423,000 hectolitres.
White wine seems to have been a bit more popular in 2020-2021, as it represented 66% of the total wine consumption in the country.
The average Slovenian drank 23 litres of white wine in the last marketing year, or almost 2 litres a month. Slovenia was completely self-sufficient in this period when it came to white wine.
STA, 29 January 2022 - The share of primary school children who are distance learners because they refuse to comply with Covid restrictions in schools is declining. However, there are at least dozen cases where parents decided to sue schools over the enforced pandemic rules.
The share is now 0.84%, meaning 1,625 students, down from 3.61% last November, when self-testing was introduced in schools. The figure has been steadily falling since then, the Education Ministry has said.
In line with the guidelines issued by the education authority last November, students' knowledge can only be assessed at school during distance learning.
"If a pupil is not graded, they will sit examinations in accordance with relevant regulations. Pupils may take part in school assessments only if they meet the conditions laid down in the decree," the ministry has told STA, referring to the government decree putting in place Covid restrictions in schools.
A number of parents who do not want their children to self-test in classrooms three days a week are suing primary schools since they believe their constitutional rights are being infringed.
The ministry has been so far notified of twelve such cases. "The lawsuits are filed at the Administrative Court and so far all the proposed interim injunctions that have already been decided by the court have been rejected. In three cases, the suits have also already been dismissed," it said.
In all the cases, the State Attorney's Office has taken over the legal representation, which made it much easier for the schools involved to deal with the legal proceedings.
Some schools in Ljubljana have refused this option as their lawyer has been provided or paid for by the school's founder, the Ljubljana municipality, the ministry added.