The Slovenia Times

Army and Red Cross to help in anti-coronavirus efforts


Ljubljana - As hospitals are under tremendous pressure from increasing numbers of Covid patients, they will be helped out by the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) and Red Cross volunteers. Talks are also under way with the country's Civil Protection force.

The government endorsed the army's participation on Friday after Health Minister Janez Poklukar said talks were under way with the SAF, Civil Protection and Red Cross to help hospitals, which are faced with a shortage of staff due to rising Covid patient numbers and due to their own staff being on sick leave.

The army will help treat and nurse Covid-19 patients with its medical unit, with four five-member teams to be formed, the government said after yesterday's session.

Red Cross volunteers will meanwhile start working at Covid units at hospitals next week, the NGO told the STA on Friday.

As many as 124 volunteers - trained as care staff with nursing skills - have so far responded to the call to help out where most necessary.

Red Cross staff also helped in the previous three waves of the epidemic, including by taking temperature at border crossing, working at hospitals and at care homes.

Hospitals are now reassigning their staff to Covid units, while also being help by secondary school and university nursing students and medical students, who mostly do easier work such as communication with relatives and testing or have been assigned to entry points.

The Novo Mesto General Hospital has told the STA that it has scaled down its regular programmes by around 55%.

The Golnik Clinic for respiratory diseases has meanwhile also called on private doctors working in the public sector to help, and has cancelled days off for its staff.

"The situation is still manageable but we're expecting with anxiety the coming week or two when infections are to culminate," its director Aleš Rozman has told the STA.

Health Ministry State Secretary Franc Vindišar told the STA today that there are only nine beds available in intensive care, so a meeting is planned for this evening with directors of all 15 hospitals treating Covid patients to increase the capacities. "By far the biggest mobilisation is under way in healthcare," he said.

There are now 290 beds in intensive care and just below 1,100 regular beds, but the main problem is not beds or rooms but staff, or a shortage of it. Today's hospitalisation figures show a record 255 Covid patients in intensive care and almost 1,000 in regular Covid units.


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