STA, 5 December 2021 - Six Italian military doctors and nurses arrived in Slovenia on Sunday to help the medical teams of the Slovenian Armed Force helping at Covid-19 hospitals. Another nine could not arrive due to the bad weather but will join them on Monday.
The Italians were welcomed at the barracks in the city of Kranj by Slovenian Defence Minister Matej Tonin and Health Minister Janez Poklukar this afternoon.
That up to 30 Italian military staff would help Slovenia cope with the tense situation at hospitals was agreed by Tonin and his Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini in Rome last month.
Today, two doctors and four male nurses, members of the Italian navy and air forces arrived, to be joined tomorrow by the nine police medical staff (carabinieri) whose flight was cancelled due to bad weather.
The 15 Italian medical professionals, of whom five doctors, are to help the Slovenian military teams at UKC Ljubljana, the country's largest hospital.
Mixed teams are expected to feature one Italian doctor, two Italian nurses, one Slovenian nurse and two Slovenian military paramedics.
The military teams at another thee Slovenian hospitals, in Celje, Novo Mesto and Maribor, will remain unchanged.
In Celje and Novo Mesto, five members of the Slovenian Armed Forces are helping out, ten in Maribor and 15 at UKC Ljubljana.
One of them, nurse Alen Oderlap said they were doing their best to helo the civilian teams and patients. "There is a lot of work and every helping hand is welcome," he said.
Italian doctors Claudia Dedalo and Sandro Pricone said they already had some experience from Covid wards, while they see their Slovenian campaign as valuable experience and as an exchange of experience that could be valuable in other crises.
Minister Tonin is confident that the Italian team's know-how and experience will contribute to the mixed military teams to be effective and meet the expectations.
Minister Poklukar said the situation at Slovenian hospitals was still very difficult for medical staff, while response to any major natural disaster or accident would be impaired, which is why the help from Italy was so valuable.
Under the current agreement with Italy, the Italian medical staff will help in Slovenia until the end of the year.
Whether they continue into next year depends on the situation at hospitals and the epidemiological situation in Slovenia and neighbouring countries, Poklukar said.
Italian Ambassador to Slovenia Carlo Campanile said: "When Italy needed medical support, Slovenia was ready to help, and we have not forgotten it."