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The Sme daily published the stories of Slovaks who have recently returned from Italy and tried to reach the helpline established by the Health Ministry for those who have coronavirus symptoms.
Mária of Bratislava could not reach anyone at first. After someone finally picked up, she was told, without being examined, that she is not infected as her temperature is low. She has not suffered from a high temperature when she has had the flu in the past.
Another Bratislavan, Ladislav, has not been able to reach anybody on the helpline, so he called 112. They told him to stay home as there is nobody to examine him.
Problems with taking samples
“I flew from Porto with a layover in Venice on February 23,” Ladislav told Sme. When he came to Slovakia, he had cold. Although he did not have an increased temperature, he was coughing, had headaches and was tired.
He thus decided to call one of the numbers established by the Health Ministry and the hygienists in early February to inform the public about the coronavirus.
“They told me to go to my GP,” Ladislav said.Related articleRead more
Since he could not reach the doctor, he called the helpline on Friday, March 6, unsuccessfully. He thus decided to write an email about his problems and coronavirus suspicions, and sent it to the address established by the ministry. Nobody responded until Sunday, March 8.
On Saturday morning, March 7, Ladislav called 112.
“They told me that if I don’t have a high temperature, it’s not a problem,” he continued, adding they recommended he stay home. “They told me they couldn’t come to my home and take samples as they didn’t know how to do it.”
Although Mária had a high temperature, people on the helpline told her that she does not have coronavirus symptoms.
“They told me that if it was coronavirus, my temperature would be higher,” she described the call. She had a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius, which she has not experienced when having flu in the past.
Contacts for the public about coronavirus:
Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic – 0917 222 682, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Regional Public Health Authority with office in Banská Bystrica - 0918 659 580
Regional Public Health Authority with office in Bratislava – 0917 426 075
Regional Public Health Authority with office in Nitra – 0948 495 915
Regional Public Health Authority with office in Trnava - 0905 903 053
Regional Public Health Authority with office in Trenčín – 0911 763 203
Regional Public Health Authority with office in Košice – 0918 389 841
Regional Public Health Authority with office in Prešov – 0911 908 823
Regional Public Health Authority with office in Žilina – 0905 342 812
Information lines operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Mária also struggled to reach someone on the helpline on Saturday, March 7. When she first succeeded, the operator told her she does not have the coronavirus as it was nearly 14 days after she had returned from Italy. The incubation period is two to 14 days.
She thus tried to call on a different number, where a “nicer lady” told her to call an ambulance. The ambulance, however, refused to come, claiming she does not have the symptoms.
A definite no without further explanation came when she told them her birth date. She is 19.
Ministry: Only 38 degrees Celsius or higher
If a patient has a suspicion of being infected with the coronavirus, the deciding factor is a body temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher, said Health Ministry spokesperson Zuzana Eliášová.
“Patients who have been in one of the countries at risk and have a lower temperature should stay at home,” she continued.Related articleRead more
The doctor will recommend them a treatment focused on suppressing the symptoms, like reducing their temperature.
After eight to 12 hours, a doctor from the operational centre contacts the patient and checks on their condition.
If it is worse or the temperature increases, the doctor will contact the regional hygienist, who will secure the samples to be taken.
Both the ministry and the hygienists have asked people to be patient, referring to the fact that the number of calls on the helpline surged significantly over the weekend.
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 are banned as of Monday, March 9.
- School trips and excursions abroad are banned.
- Travellers at airports should be ready to have their temperature measured.
- Patients' visits in all hospitals around Slovakia are 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 use the 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.
9. Mar 2020 at 13:01 | Ján Krempaský