Italy to help Slovenia tackle Covid with army medical teams

Ljubljana – The Italian Army plans to help Slovenia with up to 30 doctors and nurses as the country battles an increasing number of Covid-19 patients, it was agreed at a meeting between the Slovenian and Italian defence ministers.

Slovenian Defence Minister Matej Tonin tweeted this on Wednesday after meeting his Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini.

The Defence Ministry said on Thursday that the ministers had exchanged views on the current situation regarding the number of infected patients and the efforts to fight the pandemic.

Tonin asked his Italian counterpart for assistance with medical staff and, according to the ministry, Guerini said he understood the situation in Slovenia as Italy had had a similar experience and offered this form of assistance.

“The ministers agreed that up to 30 health workers from the Italian Army would come to Slovenia’s aid, joining the medical teams of the Slovenian Armed Forces who started helping hospitals at the beginning of the week,” the release adds.

Based on the agreement between the ministers, the Slovenian Health Ministry will determine what health experts Slovenia needs, and technical details will then be sorted out by the chiefs-of-staff of the country’s armed forces.

The Italian military medical teams will be deployed to Slovenia on the basis of the existing cooperation agreement between the two armed forces, with accommodation and food provided to the Italians at Slovenia’s expense, the ministry said.

Health Minister Janez Poklukar said talks on assistance were under way with multiple countries but none have been finalised yet.

Tonin later told the press that he was hopeful the Italian health workers would arrive in Slovenia soon. The aid agreement covers the period until the end of the year, he said.

Next year it is expected that daily Covid case counts and hospitalisations will be reduced to the point where “Slovenian healthcare will be able to manage on its own”, he added.

Tonin confirmed having discussed with Poklukar today the possibility of foreign assistance. “It all depends on the situation,” he said, highlighting he would like to see coordinated action, “so that we’re not overstaffed one minute and understaffed the next”.