Public institutions in Slovenia have started taking precautionary measures to protect staff against coronavirus infections after first cases of the virus were confirmed in neighbouring Italy, Austria and Croatia.
Some schools have cancelled planned activities, including parent-teacher conferences. One secondary school in Ljubljana, Gimnazija Poljane, said it had called off international exchanges with Italy and an excursion to Rome planned in April.
The University of Ljubljana has called on all students and faculty who have been to parts of Italian affected by the coronavirus in the last ten days to remain in self-imposed quarantine for two weeks.
The Education Ministry has issued general guidance to educational institutions urging head teachers and directors to prepare contingency plans to make sure teaching and research may continue without disruption.
Schools have been given discretion to estimate risk and adjust their activities accordingly.
Half the schools in the country are closed this week anyway, as students in the eastern half of Slovenia have their week-long winter holiday.
In Primorske, the region closest to the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, cultural institutions have started cancelling events as well.
A concert in Piran dedicated to the 250th death anniversary of the composer Giuseppe Tartini has been called off, as has the opening show of a Slovenian-Italian cross-border theatre festival in Gorizia.
Meanwhile, Health Ministry State Secretary Simona Repar Bornšek told the parliamentary Health Committee that life must not come to a halt.
“In terms of expertise, there is no reason to call off public events… Institutions must make sure that health care workers and those at the borders are protected but there are no special instructions for healthy people,” she said, repeating once again that there is no reason for healthy people to wear face masks.
The committee session was also attended by Italian Ambassador to Slovenia Carlo Campanile, who presented the situation in Italy and called for transparent communication to fight misinformation.
Repar Bornšek also said that patients suspected of being infected with COVID-19 will be directed to health centres that provide 24/7 services. Only severe cases will be hospitalised, therefore the existing capacities are expected to suffice.
Meanwhile, a meeting hosted by Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza resulted in the decision of health ministers from neighbouring countries, including Slovenia’s Aleš Šabeder, to keep the borders open.