National Security Council adopts measures to contain the spread of coronavirus
There have now been 23 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1227 coronavirus tests have been carried out in Slovenia so far. According to Minister of Health Aleš Šabeder, new infection cases are predictable and are related to the already identified cases. All patients feel well. A call centre has been set up to assist inhabitants in finding information regarding the coronavirus.
Minister Šabeder went on to present the measures taken by the National Security Council (NSC) at today's session:
- All preventive activities of health centres at Metlika, Novo mesto, Črnomelj and at Novo mesto general hospital will be suspended and all non-urgent specialist examinations will be rescheduled until further notice. Only acute illnesses and conditions that could lead to a deterioration of health will be addressed. Visits to a personal doctor should be made by prior telephone appointment. Emergency conditions will be dealt with according to the established protocol.
- Employers, especially in the areas of Novo mesto, Črnomelj, Metlika and Bela krajina, should alert or urge workers who are ill to stay at home and follow instructions. Work from home is advised to the greatest possible extent. Non-urgent business trips are strongly advised against.
- There are proposals to introduce a system for body temperature screening of passengers arriving in Slovenia at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport. Preparations for traveller controls have also been started on the land border with Italy.
- All sports and other events with over 500 participants will be performed without spectators, including the Vitranc Cup and ski jumping at Planica.
- The Ministry of Finance will immediately release budgetary reserves for the procurement of personal protective equipment for departments that will be in charge of the procurement for current needs.
- Slovenia will join the EU public procurement for 500,000 protective masks.
- All travellers crossing the Slovenian border will be informed via SMS notification of the preventive measures in force in this country regarding the coronavirus.
- Leaflets containing coronavirus action instructions will be distributed to all Slovenian households via the Post of Slovenia.
- In the opinion of experts and the NSC, the closing down of schools and nursery schools is not yet necessary. They will be closed down on the basis of expert judgment and on the occurrence of infections in a particular area.
- The inspection service of the Ministry of Health will establish a 24/7 on-call service, which will issue decisions to individuals violating the Order prohibiting gathering at public events.
- The Order prohibiting indoor public gatherings in Slovenia will be amended to reduce the upper limit from 500 to 100 people. The order will enter into force tomorrow.
- Aircraft from Italian airports, in places where risk of infection is higher, will be banned from landing. Furthermore, we will ban flights from China, South Korea, and Iran. The ban applies from 10. 3. 2020 to 31. 3. 2020, with a possibility of extension. This does not apply to emergency and medical flights.
A call centre has been set up today to assist inhabitants in finding information regarding the coronavirus. The toll-free telephone number 080 1404 allows people to obtain information every day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Calls will be answered by senior year students of the Faculty of Medicine.
The Minister pointed out that the spread of infections is in most cases due to failure of inhabitants to follow the instructions, and again appealed to all those who show signs of infection to first call their personal doctor and then go to one of the 16 contact points.
Nina Pirnat, Director of the National Institute of Public Health, said that measures were taken at today's NSC session that would help contain the spread of the virus across Slovenia. We are still in the first phase of the infection spreading, but the number of infected people is still rising. Compared to neighbouring countries, the number of infections in Slovenia is increasing at a slower rate. Out of 23 cases, 14 are imported, mostly from Italy, and nine are secondary cases. Eight secondary cases are related to the infected doctor from the Metlika health centre and one to a Ljubljana resident by way of transmission.
Nine persons were infected in the Ljubljana region, three in Štajerska, one in Slovenian Istria and ten in the Dolenjska region. Infected persons showed mild clinical signs.
Ms Pirnat thanked all health professionals for their outstanding work. All measures for early detection of infection cases will continue to be carried out. The current measures adopted in Slovenia are similar to those taken by other countries, but will be tightened in order to contain the spread of the infection within controllable limits.
Prime Minister Marjan Šarec reiterated some decisions of today's NSC session, stressing that at the meeting there was also word of actions to be taken by individual sectors, given that the coronavirus also touches upon Slovenia's other vital issues besides health. Bearing this in mind, the Government has prepared a set of measures.
Prime Minister Šarec also highlighted the importance of cooperation between the ministers of the outgoing government and those of the new one so that action can continue to be carried out by the newly appointed government. The NSC will convene shortly as necessary. According to the Prime Minister, the infection is expected to spread and action will be taken accordingly.
The incoming Prime Minister Janez Janša also believes that the virus will spread and points out that there is an ongoing race with time. The question is, as Mr Janša adds, whether we are able to curb the spread of the virus so that the extent of the infection does not exceed the capacity of our health system. He also expressed his gratitude to health care professionals.
Mr Janša said that both the outgoing and the incoming government have joined forces and are working together to ensure that no opportunity to fight the coronavirus is missed.