Coronavirus: Preparedness and measures in Slovenia
Declaring the epidemic
On 12 March 2020 at 18:00, Slovenia declared the epidemic on the basis of Article 7 of the Communicable Diseases Act due to the increasing number of cases of coronavirus infection. The Decree on declaration of contagious disease SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19) entered into force at 18:00. The national plan was also activated. The expert opinion of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) served as the basis for declaring the epidemic. We thus follow the WHO’s pandemic declaration that was issued yesterday.
The situation in Slovenia and around the world is also closely monitored by the National Security Council Secretariat.
The Ministry of Health, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and other competent authorities promptly inform the public about the developments on their websites and social networks (Twitter Vlada RS, Facebook Vlada RS).
You can obtain information at the toll-free number 080 1404 (from abroad: +386 1 478 7550) every day between 08:00 and 20:00. Callers’ questions are answered by senior students of the Faculty of Medicine under the supervision of suitable expert services/experts.
Measures aimed at preventing social contact
Social distancing is a key prevention measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus, therefore:
- temporary prohibition of public gathering at public meetings and public events and other events in public places in the Republic of Slovenia has been in effect as of 20 March,
- most public institutions have been closed (libraries, museums, cinemas, galleries, etc.),
- a prohibition of movement outside the municipality of permanent or temporary residence applies as of 30 March,
- public bus and railway transport, gondolas and funicular railways have been suspended as of 16 March,
- the supply and sale of goods and services directly to consumers in the Republic of Slovenia has been temporarily banned as of 16 March. This includes accommodation, hospitality, wellness, sports and recreational, cinematographic, cultural, hairdressing, cosmetics and pedicure services, gaming and other similar activities. The temporary ban excludes the remote provision and sale of goods and services to consumers, pharmacies and stores with food, including the sale of agricultural produce at farms.
As of 30 March 2020, purchases from 8:00 to 10:00 can only be made by vulnerable groups (e.g. persons with disabilities, pregnant women). Pensioners can only carry out purchases during this time.
Disinfection of multi-dwelling buildings
The disinfection of multi-dwelling buildings has been mandatory as of 29 March. The Chemicals Office of the Republic of Slovenia advises you to clean surfaces with ordinary detergent and disinfect them with disinfection products that have antiviral effects indicated in the instructions or on the label. Strictly follow the instructions of use, or else disinfection will not be effective. Another practical disinfectant is a 0.05%–0.1% solution of sodium hypochlorite (bleach). Besides disinfecting your rooms, keep them well aired.
Measures in the field of health care
Slovenia was one of the first European countries which, soon after the outbreak of infection in China, launched testing to confirm the virus. NIJZ drafted detailed instructions for health professionals and epidemiologists.
Instructions for epidemiological monitoring of ill people and the monitoring of people who were in contact with persons that tested positive were drafted and published. All public health institutions received instructions for treating persons suspected to have contracted novel coronavirus in primary health care and hospitals.
Patients with COVID-19 are currently treated at the Department of Infectious Diseases in Ljubljana. In case of an increased number of patients, these will also be treated at regional hospitals which are in the preparation phase. The isolation centre of the Slovenian Armed Forces has also been established.
The operations in all health institutions at all levels were adjusted to the spread of coronavirus. Before visiting community health centres at primary level, it is necessary to call in advance. The majority of non-urgent and preventive examinations were cancelled and, in particular, all health institutions banned visits. Health professionals are prohibited from travelling abroad and their right to leave and strike is restricted.
The maximum permitted prices of protective and other medical equipment were determined on 14 March at 08:00.
Changed method of monitoring the spread of the infection
The Government of Slovenia decided to change the method of monitoring the spread of the new coronavirus. People with respiratory infections not requiring hospital care will no longer be tested, but the situation will be assessed on the basis of the number of people who become ill.
People with mild respiratory infections who are over 60, who have co-morbidities (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal and severe hepatic diseases), and who have immune deficiencies, regardless of their age are being tested.
Measures in educational institutions
As of Monday, 16 March, all education institutions in Slovenia are closed with the exception of facilities working with adolescents with emotional and behavioural disorders. The competent ministry forwarded recommendations to implement distance education and instructions regarding child care to the managements of primary and secondary schools.
Organised group child care is prohibited, and thus Prime Minister Janez Janša called on mayors to assist their citizens in the organisation of individual child care at home.
Head teachers, teachers, parents and children can submit their questions about preventive measures related to coronavirus via a special e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Measures in work environments
The Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities published clarifications and recommendations for employers regarding assigning work from home and other work in exceptional circumstances when the lives and health of people or the employers’ assets are at risk.
In this case, employers can assign other types of work and/or place of performing work without employees’ consent, but only for the duration of the exceptional circumstances. What employers must particularly pay attention to when doing so, especially from the viewpoint of ensuring suitable relations with employees, is clarified in the file attached. Clarifications about general arrangements when assigning work from home and other work, including additional information of the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia referring to compensation for the absence from work are also written down.
The Government of the Republic of Slovenia determined the text of the draft Act on the Interim Measure of Partial Reimbursement of Wage Compensation to be submitted for discussion to the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia as per urgent procedure. The outbreak of infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus in China at the end of 2019 spread to the territory of the European Union in February 2020, especially to the countries bordering the Republic of Slovenia. The results are drastically reflected in the economic activity in Slovenia, particularly in tourism, hospitality, retail and processing sectors, where the demand for workforce will simultaneously drop, which is why further measures must be adopted to facilitate the situation in the business sector and protect the employees.
Measures at administrative units and the judiciary
The operations of administrative units are limited to the performance of urgent tasks until further notice. The following measures are thus implemented at administrative units until further notice:
- to visit an administrative unit, a client must first make an appointment by phone or electronically via e-mails sent to the administrative unit’s e-address, or via regular mail;
- clients are granted access only in the most urgent cases;
- with the exception of urgent cases, administrative units accept clients’ applications only in electronic form or by regular mail;
- concluding marriages or civil partnerships is not possible until further notice.
The operations of courts and notary offices were also adjusted. In this regard, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia also adopted the draft act determining temporary intervention measures relating to judicial, administrative and other public law matters to manage the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infectious disease at its correspondence session today.
Measures in retirement homes
A complete ban on visits to retirement homes was introduced due to the increasing number of people infected with coronavirus in Slovenia and to protect the health of residents. To take suitable measures is the primary concern, task and commitment of all providers of services for the elderly with the aim to protect the health of their service users.
Restriction on visits to certain prisons
The Prison Administration of the Republic of Slovenia informed its staff and prisoners about preventive measures and protocols on how to act. Restriction on visiting prisons in groups (e.g. visits by students) applies until further notice. Non-urgent medical examinations of prisoners will be postponed in accordance with capacities. Restrictions on visits to one healthy person apply in prisons in close proximity to Italy, and relatives are asked in all prisons not to visit if they have signs of infection.