Fifth Slovenian Covid-19 victim confirmed
Ljubljana, 25 March - A fifth coronavirus-related death in Slovenia was confirmed Wednesday as another person died in the Šmarje pri Jelšah nursing home, one of the hotspots of the epidemic in the country, Health Minister Tomaž Gantar announced.
Gantar said that fifty new cases of Covid-19 infection had been confirmed since yesterday, bringing the total number to 528. According to him, 73 of the infected persons are healthcare workers.
This is the largest daily increase in the number of infected persons in Slovenia, surpassing the previous record of 45 on 13 March.
However, a direct comparison is not possible since the methodology has changed: the cases used to be counted by 10am, now they are counted from midnight to midnight. The latest daily increase thus refers to the entire Tuesday.
The National Public Health Institute later said that 528 positive tests had been recorded by midnight on Tuesday, but that the number of positive persons was actually 526, as some of the tests had been repeated.
"We expect a growth in the number of patients in the coming days. At this point we cannot project when the epidemic will peak," Gantar said.
He added that the situation could deteriorate very quickly if citizens failed to respect all the instructions and restrictive measures.
The minister also said that it was hard to project possible additional measures in the healthcare system, as these would depend mainly on the trends in patient numbers.
A total of 16,113 persons have been tested, with 1,243 being tested on Tuesday alone.
A total of 72 patients have so far been hospitalised, of whom 14 are in intensive care. Nationwide there are 539 beds available for coronavirus patients, of which 56 in intensive care, and the number could be increased to up to 1,000 if other health services are scaled back.
Gantar said that the government would reorganise the healthcare system as needed to adapt it to the growing number of Covid-19 patients.
The number of regular services has been reduced because of the limited staff capacity, equipment and premises, he said, adding that the ministry wanted to connect hospitals around the country when it came to the most important fields.
Coordinators for individual fields will be appointed in individual hospitals to gain a comprehensive insight into the developments and capacities in the country.
Intensive care will be organised as a single hospital. "This way we will know at any moment where enough staff, equipment and room is available for potential new Covid-19 patients," the minister explained.
Asked how many patients had recovered, Gantar said that there was no clear definition of recovery, while noting that dozens of persons had been discharged from hospital.
Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj added that nursing homes around the country remained the hot spots, but added that the operators had been well prepared for the situation, which was under control.
Both ministers noted that protective gear remained one of the main challenges both in nursing homes and medical institutions.
More about this topic is expected to be known on Thursday, with Gantar saying that small shipments continued to arrive on an ongoing basis.
The system has a sufficient quantity of medication for the next 30 days, and procedures are under way to purchase additional quantities, he added.
The minister noted that foreign countries had started to restrict exports of medications, adding that Slovenia had contacted Japan in relation to a medication which was expected to be used for treatment of Covid-19.
"There are many experimental studies, but there is not enough scientific evidence for us to go for quick imports of some of other medications," he said.