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Slovenia confirms second case of coronavirus infection; appeal to all who have been in contact with the first infected person

Statements providing updates on the occurrence of the coronavirus infection have been given by the Minister of Health, Aleš Šabeder, the State Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Simona Repar Bornšek, Nina Pirnat from the National Institute of Public Health and the Head of the Clinic for Infectious Diseases, Dr Tatjana Lejko Zupanc.

Minister Šabeder confirmed the country’s second case of infection. The second person infected had been in contact with the first infected person who arrived at Venice Marco Polo Airport on 29 February 2020. On the very same evening the first infected patient visited the emergency department at the Ljubljana University Medical Centre due to an injury, while yesterday he was admitted to the Health Care Centre at Vič - Rudnik.

As explained by Nina Pirnat from the National Institute of Public Health, the first infected individual is a 60-year old man who arrived at Vienna Marco Polo Airport on Saturday, 29 February 2020, at 4.25 pm on flight no. AT-938.  At that time he already had symptoms of coronavirus infection, which he considered to be connected with his recent injury suffered in Morocco. He travelled from Venice to Ljubljana by a GoOpti van. On the very same evening he visited the emergency department at the Ljubljana University Medical Centre to get his injury examined.

It was not until yesterday (Wednesday 4 March) that he visited the Vič - Rudnik Health Care Centre, where he was not examined by his personal doctor but by another physician who sent him to an entry point for a swab test. He was taken there by ambulance. Although the physician at the Health Care Centre was protected (the same applied to all other health care workers) she stayed at home today. Further measures will be agreed on a daily basis. The patient was then admitted to the Clinic for Infectious Diseases at the Ljubljana University Medical Centre.

Ms. Pirnat appealed to all those who were at the emergency department of the Ljubljana University Medical Centre from 8.00 pm to 9.30 pm on 29 February 2020 to call phone number 031 619 118. Epidemiologists have already contacted all persons who travelled with the first infected patient from Venice to Ljubljana in the GoOpti van. According to information from the GoOpti Company, the driver is currently being tested and has been put into isolation. As stated by the director of GoOpti, Marko Guček, apart from the infected Slovenian, a small group of persons was also travelling in the van, the exact number of whom is, however, not known to him, as well as the driver, who feels well and shows no symptoms of the Covid-19 coronavirus disease. 

Ms. Pirnat emphasised that the passengers who had been on the aforementioned flight from Morocco to Venice on 29 February, should monitor their health condition. In case of fever, coughing or shortness of breath they should call their personal doctor. "It must be pointed out that for the transmission of the disease close contact with an infected person is required, and that there is a very low probability of infection of patients and their attendants who were at the emergency unit at the critical time. The same applies to the passengers on the plane." 

The first infected person, for whom it is still not known where he became infected, did not go to work after his return from abroad, while for the second infected person, who is not a relative of the first coronavirus patient, this information is not yet available. The wife of the first coronavirus patient works at one of the primary schools in Ljubljana and as Nina Pirnat said, she showed no symptoms of infection, but had been put in isolation. A swab test was performed on her, but the test results have not yet arrived. Based on the results, further measures will be decided on.

The first coronavirus patient, who is staying at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases in Ljubljana, is stable. "The person feels well and he is currently stationed in the ordinary department," said Dr Tatjana Lejko Zupanc, Head of the Clinic for Infectious Diseases at the Ljubljana University Medical Centre.

According to the State Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Simona Repar Bornšek, all protocols have been implemented, and the epidemiological service is carrying out its work. As she said, "contrary to the instructions we have published, the patient entered the health care centre without making a previous call, however, from that moment on, procedures have been carried out in accordance with the professional and organisational instructions."

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