STA, 23 February 2020 - Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus in Italy, the Foreign Ministry has advised Slovenian citizens visiting the country to be cautious on their return home. Those heading to Italy are advised to check the latest situation at their chosen destination.
Authorities in the north of Italy have imposed emergency measures to try to contain worrying outbreaks of the virus. A dozen towns in Lombardy and Veneto have gone into lockdown as the number those infected exceeded 100 and two of those infected died.
Friuli Venezia Giulia, the region bordering Slovenia, has declared a state of emergency due to the proximity of Veneto, where the authorities have shut down the Venice Carnival and other public events as the number of coronavirus cases has risen to 25.
The carnival is popular with Slovenian tourists and several travel agencies offer trips there, but the STA has learnt that one of Slovenian travel agencies last night notified the clients booked for the trip that their trip, planned for early Sunday morning, had been cancelled.
The Foreign Ministry has noted that the coronavirus outbreak and the measures to contain it are changing fast, urging those headed to Italy to check the latest situation with their hosts, travel agencies or hotels.
The ministry's consular service, the Slovenian Embassy in Rome and the Consulate General in Trieste keep in touch with the Italian authorities and are monitoring the developments.
Slovenia has not recorded any case of the novel coronavirus infection from China except for two passengers who have contracted the virus at the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan. They have been hospitalised in Japan.
The other four Slovenians who had been aboard the virus infected ship that had been under quarantine for over a fortnight have since returned home. They have tested negative again, but have been placed in isolation at their homes for two weeks as a precautionary measure.
To prevent catching the infection, the National Public Health Institute has advised the population to follow the usual precautionary measures against contagious diseases such as avoiding close contacts with people showing signs of an infectious disease.
"Do not touch eyes, nose or mouth. Stay at home when falling sick. Follow the cough hygiene measures. Regularly wash your hands with soap and water," or when that is not available use a hand sanitiser, the institute says on its website. It says that the use of face masks is not necessary.
Janez Janša, the leader of the Democratic Party (SDS), urged the caretaker government on Saturday to call a session of the National Security Council to discuss the situation in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
In response, outgoing PM Marjan Šarec tweeted that the authorities in charge were prepared for a potential outbreak of the virus and were coordinating activities on a daily basis.
"There are plans for the case of a potential broader spread of the disease," he said, adding that the situation should be taken seriously but without causing panic or politicising it.
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