The first case of the COVID-19 infection was confirmed in Slovakia, PM Peter Pellegrini announced today.
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"A patient aged 52 was confirmed today. He has been hospitalised at the infectology clinic of the University Hospital in Bratislava," Pellegrini said.
The patient, who is from the western-Slovak village of Kostolište (near the town of Malacky), has not been to any country where the virus has occurred recently. His son, who does not show any symptoms of the virus, has been to Venice between February 14 and 15. It is not clear whether the infection came from the son.
The patient with confirmed coronavirus had symptoms even before his son returned from Italy, though, PM Pellegrini said. The patient also suffers from pneumonia but is now feeling better.
The crisis staff has met at the Interior Ministry to discuss the situation and necessary measures. The crisis staff issued several measures on the afternoon of March 6:
- All flights from the Slovak international airports to Italy will be banned as of Monday, March 9.
- School trips and excursions abroad will be banned.
- Travellers at airports should be ready to have their temperature measured.
- Patients' visits in all hospitals around Slovakia will be banned.
- Visits to social care facilities are banned as well.
- Info campaign will be conducted at border crossings with Austria - Berg, Kittsee, and Jarovce. As of 16:00 on Friday, March 6, there will be additional checks at these border crossings, rescuers will be checking people for symptoms of the coronavirus.
- The National Centre of Health Information recommends people in Slovakia to use ePrescription service and limit visits to the doctor. Thanks to e-Prescription, people can just call their doctor on the phone and ask for the prescription that they can then pick up in any pharmacy.
- The government recommends the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia to consider restricting religious services that are attended by larger numbers of people.
More cases expected
“Nothing tragic has happened,” said chief hygienist Ján Mikas.
He expects that more cases will be confirmed in the following days.
The positive samples will now be tested in Berlin.“The situation is under control,” Mikas added.
During his press briefing following the session of the crisis staff, PM Peter Pellegrini discouraged people from travelling abroad altogether. He also informed that two Slovak citizens are currently hospitalised in Bali with a suspicion of a Covid-19 infection.
The secondary vocational school of mass media and information studies on Kadnárova Street in Bratislava will be closed until March 15. The school suspects that one of its students might have been in contact with a person infected with coronavirus.
Pellegrini: Do not panic
People should avoid mass events and observe basic hygienic rules. Those with symptoms should first contact the call centres and avoid travelling by public transport to the emergency departments in hospitals, where other patients are.
If the symptoms are serious, you should call an ambulance, the authorities recommend.
Meanwhile, the State Material Reserves have finished purchasing protection materials.
Pellegrini has stressed that they do not plan to hand out the protective masks. They should not be used recklessly and wasted, he added.
Pellegrini also called on people not to panic and buy up hypermarkets.
President Zuzana Čaputová also asked people to keep calm.
PM: Reconsider travelling
No compulsory quarantine has been put in place for now. In the Czech Republic, people who return from Italy are required to stay in quarantine at home for two weeks.
"We are in a complicated situation because we are in the middle of the flu season," Pellegrini told the press briefing following the session of the crisis staff. The state is not planning to take any special measures, not even in the municipality where the infected man lives.
Pellegrini called on people to try and avoid risky behaviour, such as travelling to the risk areas. He specifically mentioned planned trips to Italy and said people should reconsider them.
"Do not risk just because you feel like travelling," he said.
People should also consider not attending sport, cultural and religious events.
The only possible way to stop the spread of the virus is to meet each other as little as possible, Pellegrini said. Yet he added that there is no need for towns and cities in Slovakia to be deserted.
Bratislava is ready, mayor says
Bratislava Mayor Matúš Vallo said that the capital is ready for the coronavirus.
To eliminate the risk of transmitting the virus to seniors, who belong to the most vulnerable groups, the city issued hygienic measures and abolished visiting hours in the senior homes.
Bratislava local authorities announced a few days back that they would take some more measures to counter the coronavirus.
They decided to disinfect all public transport vehicles and issued an order for the respective offices to purchase hygienic and disinfection means for employees.