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Government coronavirus call centre as an example of good practice during the epidemic

At the press conference on the current situation related to the COVID-19 epidemic, the speakers were the Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning. Andrej Vizjak, Mojca Matičič, a doctor at the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University Medical Centre Ljubljana and a professional mentor for students at the government call centre, and Government spokesperson Jelko Kacin.

Minister Andrej Vizjak and government spokesman Jelko Kacin

Minister Andrej Vizjak and government spokesman Jelko Kacin | Author Nik Jevšnik, STA

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The Government has adopted the proposal for the Intervention Act on removing barriers for the implementation of important investment for restarting the economy after the COVID-19 epidemic

As Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning Andrej Vizjak explained in the introduction, the purpose of the Government’s proposal is to ensure an efficient kick-start of the investment cycle of the country, the municipalities and the private sector at the end of the epidemic and to prevent worse economic damage by actively accelerating construction activities and associated services. The act will apply to all important investment, defined in the Government’s decision, until the end of next year.

The proposed act stipulates that the Government will determine a list of important investment according to three priority groups. In the first group is investment that can be planned in 2020, in the second group, investment planned in 2021, and in the third group, investment that requires changes in the national spatial plans. Investment will be put into the groups according to the priorities of the national strategic documents in the fields of the economy, education and infrastructure. This includes important thoroughfares, railway connections, energy plants and projects such as NUK2.

Minister Vizjak also warned that the Sovenian construction sector had suffered one of the biggest falls in activity among EU Members States in March, which had affected other sectors as well due to the strong multiplicative impacts of this sector. This is why a key activity after the adoption of the act will be to search for optimal solutions for faster procedures in order to again hear the whirring of construction machinery on site as early as in the summer. In this way, the country will provide jobs, economic activity and inflows to the national budget.

Government call centre: A good example of cooperation during the epidemic

At the Government contact call centre, founded on the initiative of the Government Communication Office in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and the Department of Infectious Diseases in Ljubljana, more than 42 thousand questions have been answered. The information on the coronavirus, COVID-19, preventative measures and easing measures is given by 66 students in final years at the Faculty of Medicine, who receive assistance from two doctors from the Department of Infectious diseases, a representative of the National Institut for Public Health, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a representative of the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, and, occasionally, a representative of the Labour Inspectorate, of the Police, or of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.

Since the epidemiological situation in Slovenia has been stabilising, from Monday, 18 May, the call centre will be open only on workdays, i.e. from Monday to Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Mojca Matičič, an infectious disease specialist and part of the project since day one, underlined that work at the call centre is extremely dynamic and that the student advisors answer calls enthusiastically, driven by their great desire to help: “The key for preparing the answers is simple: quality information that needs to be reliable, credible, verified, and delivered in an empathetic, kind and understandable manner.”

Until today, the call centre had received more than 42 thousand calls, which means 600 calls per day on average. The daily record, reached twice, was more than 1,200 calls per day. The average call lasted about three minutes and the longest call an hour and 29 minutes.