Slovenia declares coronavirus epidemic
Due to the increased risk of spread of the novel coronavirus, the Minister of Health, Aleš Šabeder, issued an order declaring an epidemic in accordance with Article 7 of the Contageous Diseases Act.
The epidemic has been declared on the basis of the opinion of the National Institute of Public Health. The declaration of the epidemic follows the declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
The Order entered into force today at 6 p.m.
Minister Šabeder stressed that this scenario had been expected and anticipated. From now on, the Civil Protection Service of the Republic of Slovenia will be put in charge of coordinating the measures to combat the spread of the virus, in cooperation with the relevant departments.
The Health Minister also mentioned today's call launched by infectologists for strict measures to be taken in the coming days and weeks, which will be crucial in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
EU health ministers held a video conference today with the EU Commissioner for Health and the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management. The European Centre for Disease Control presented the latest risk assessment and recommendations for containing the coronavirus. The virus is spreading with relentless rapidity, and all measures are in place in an attempt to contain it.
Slovenia has already taken the following measures:
–closure of educational institutions,
–restrictions on border crossings with Italy,
–restrictions on public life,
–work from home.
All EU Member States have adopted similar measures to those in Slovenia, and are gearing up for a potential further spread of the virus. Ministers of all Member States have taken a common position in support of solidarity between their respective States, particularly due to the fact that they all lack protective equipment. The European Commission will employ mechanisms to do its utmost to deliver this equipment to the Member States that need it most.
In the afternoon, a meeting was held with hospital managers at which the following decisions were adopted:
–We have entered Stage Two and also activated other hospitals for admission of coronavirus patients. Only patients with clinical symptoms that require hospital treatment will be admitted. Patients with mild clinical symptoms will have to stay at home. The dispatch service that admits a patient will have to announce the patient's arrival and check the availability of hospital capacities.
–As of 16 March 2020, specialist examinations and surgical operations except cases rated as “emergency” or “urgent” or “express” will be cancelled. This will exclude oncology and pregnancy treatments. Wherever there is a possibility of e-consulting services, it should be used to the maximum extent.
–Therapeutic and urgent operations in the framework of the ZORA, DORA and SVIT programmes will be carried to completion.
–Sanctions for anyone violating the quarantine order or endangering public health by spreading the infection will be publicly announced in the media. Attention has been called to violence against healthcare professionals and patients, in particular in emergency aid centres.
–The Ministry of Health will check the available human resources by suspending preventive activities, and will check the possibility of their reallocation within healthcare institutions.
–In agreement with the heads of departments hosting specialisation trainees, public healthcare institutions will invite their specialisation trainees to temporarily return to their parent institutions.
The Order restricting certain rights of healthcare professionals and associates took effect at 6pm today. The Order
–prohibits health staff from taking annual leave,
–restricts their right to go on strike,
and the right to participate in training and education provided in infected areas or areas at immediate risk of coronavirus outbreaks.
There are currently 96 coronavirus cases in Slovenia.