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Proportionate measures are in place, no reasons to declare an epidemic yet

There are currently 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Slovenia, all originating from abroad. The health condition of all patients is good. Prime Minister Marjan Šarec convened a meeting of the National Security Council for tomorrow to take note of the report submitted by the Ministry of Health and other ministries. The professional services assess that there are no reasons to declare an epidemic yet. He stressed the importance of taking proportionate measures.

Prime Minister Marjan Šarec first confirmed that Slovenia currently has 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, with all cases originating from abroad. On Monday, the Prime Minister will convene a meeting of the National Security Council to take note of the report submitted by the Ministry of Health and other ministries. According to the Prime Minister, there are no reasons to declare an epidemic yet; however, the recommendations and instructions by the professional services are being followed. He underlined the importance of taking proportionate measures. The coronavirus infection control measures in Slovenia are the same as in other countries, with the exception of Italy, where the situation is specific.

Additionally, Health Minister Aleš Šabeder stressed that measures to curb the infection are being implemented and they are working well. It is of utmost importance that "patient zero" has been identified and that the spread of the infection is being monitored and controlled. In relation to the yesterday's decision to ban public indoor gatherings where more than 500 people are expected, he pointed out that the said order had been violated, mainly by some clubs. He called for strict observance of the ban, since the health of the public is of primary concern. In Slovenia, as in some other European countries (except Italy), no decision has been taken yet on a general restriction of movement, or closure of kindergartens and schools, and measures are currently being taken locally.

Nina Pirnat, the director of the National Institute of Public Health, emphasised that there were still no reasons for declaring an epidemic. All coronavirus patients in Slovenia have been infected abroad or in close contact with other persons. The total number of persons infected has increased to 16. The last three patients became infected as a result of close contact, and the disease developed at the time of their self-isolation. The three persons had been in close contact with an infected health worker and were removed from the working process before they became ill. The fourth person who was not reported on yesterday arrived in Slovenia from Switzerland via Italy. She had already taken ill in Switzerland and had no contact with anybody when she arrived in Slovenia, where she was treated by her personal doctor according to the protocol.

It is important that people practice preventive measures, observe the development of the symptoms and call the doctor in case the symptoms appear.

In respect of calls to close kindergartens and schools, Ms. Pirnat stressed that in the present situation this would not be a reasonable decision since the virus had not yet circulated in the school population. On the other hand, this measure would cause great distress to parents and the majority of the population.  She pointed out once again that the measures had to be proportionate. 

Slovenia's Civil Protection Commander Srečko Šestan said that the Civil Protection Service was already involved in the performance of numerous tasks, such as the setting up of what are called entry points, the provision and distribution of protective equipment, and in other tasks. The Civil Protection Service as the coordinator of activities only takes up its duties after the activation of the National Plan, and of course in cooperation with professional services, explained Šestan. He also expressed his appreciation of all those currently controlling the situation.

Prime Minister Marjan Šarec also highlighted the question of personal data protection and the possibility of stigmatisation of people who were being faced with infection. He advocated tolerance and empathy for others. 

In conclusion the competent authorities explained that regarding the organisation of the skiing and ski flying events at Vitranc and Planica, it is still too early to take a final decision. Abroad, similar events are taking place without spectators and Slovenia is therefore also considering this option.