The Slovak Ministry of Defense (MOD) has reported the first two confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on March 24.
According to an MOD statement, a serviceman from the Ministry of Defence in Bratislava and a civilian employee from the Helicopter Wing in Prešov. Both sources of the infection have been identified and the individuals affected require no hospitalization and are in self-isolation at home.
In the first case, on returning from a trip abroad, the serviceman began self-isolation at home as a precautionary measure and has not come into contact with his colleagues. In the second case, the civilian employee contracted the virus from his brother and has not come into contact with his colleagues at the base either.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the MOD has adopted a large number of measures which are regularly reviewed by the Crisis Staff. The body temperature of all staff and visitors is measured on their arrival at the MOD, the wearing of face masks or other face protective equipment is compulsory, and disinfectants are available at the entrances to individual buildings.
The Armed Forces are putting in maximum efforts to assist the public. Acting on the decisions of the Central Crisis Staff, they stand ready to assist with the delivery of medical supplies by Spartan transport aircraft. For this purpose, the military has also offered pre-paid flying hours under the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) programme. In practice, this means that supplies can be delivered by an outsized cargo aircraft capable of transporting large quantities of kits.
SVK Minister of Defence Jaroslav Naď said: “In this situation SVK citizens must know they can rely on the men and women of our Armed Forces and Ministry of Defence. We will do our utmost to make sure they can really feel our help and confirm our firm place in domestic crisis management.” He insisted that central measures must be put in place to ensure that soldiers are issued with all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). “Meanwhile, we are making the best of our own capacities and options. For example, Zemianske Kostoľany-based CBRN specialists have started making their own disinfectants,” he added.
In line with the requests for assistance from the SVK Central Crisis Staff, the MOD has made available its Horezza-run accommodation facilities for SVK citizens to undergo mandatory 14-day self-isolation. Almost 180 citizens who have returned from different countries are staying at the Granite Hotels in Piešťany and Tatranské Zruby. Currently, another 55 citizens are at the Granite Hotel in Smrekovica.
So far, service personnel have protected border crossings and provided assistance at the entrances to hospitals in several cities. The Defence Medical Service (DMS) has placed doctors and nurses in civilian hospitals. 13 containers from the military field hospital are being used to sort out patients at the Central Military Hospital Ružomberok. The hospital is now operating under the state of emergency and admits patients only for urgent medical care. Setting up tents as pre-triage areas in front of hospitals to cope with the influx of patients is being offered up for consideration.