COVID-19 & Slovenia, Afternoon 2 April: Numbers, Drive-in Testing in Koper, 3D Masks, Hospital Director Resigns

By , 02 Apr 2020, 14:13 PM Politics
COVID-19 & Slovenia, Afternoon 2 April: Numbers, Drive-in Testing in Koper, 3D Masks, Hospital Director Resigns Saška Grušovnik

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All our stories on coronavirus are here, while those covering covid-19 and Croatia are here. We'll have an update at the end of the day, and if you want newsflashes then we'll post those on Facebook

We can’t have pictures of COVID-19 every day. So instead we’ll try and show the works of Slovenian artists. Today it’s Saška Grušovnik. You can see more of her work here.


Number of coronavirus cases rises by 56 to 897, 16 deaths confirmed

Drive-in testing introduced in Koper

3D printed face masks joining fight against Covid-19 in Slovenia

Hospital director resigns after contentious tweets

Number of coronavirus cases rises by 56 to 897, 16 deaths confirmed

STA, 2 April 2020 - The number of coronavirus cases in Slovenia rose by 56 in a day to stand at 897 by Wednesday midnight. So far 16 people have died from the disease. In the last 24 hours, 1,095 tests were conducted, the government said on Twitter.

A total of 112 patents were in hospitals around the country today, 29 of them in intensive care. Four persons were released from hospital in the last 24 hours and one person died.

So far, a total of 24,857 tests have been performed.

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Drive-in testing introduced in Koper

STA, 2 April 2020 - The Koper Community Health Centre, one of the 16 coronavirus testing points in Slovenia, has introduced the country's first drive-in system for taking swabs from potentially infected persons to significantly reduce the time needed for a single test.

In addition to saving time for employees and patients - one test takes 10 instead of 30 minutes - the centre also saves on protective equipment, Ljubica Kolander Bizjak, the director of the centre, has told the STA.

Under the new system, a person who suspects that they are infected contacts their personal physician, who decides if they should be tested. The person then contacts the community health centre and gets a date for the test.

The person then drives to a dedicated parking and is swabbed, and then instructed to remain self-isolated until the results of the test are known.

The drive in testing has been introduced on proposal from employees, who were taking samples in a designated container, where the process took 30 minutes per person, as the container needs to be ventilated for at least 15 minutes and sanitised.

Kolander Bizjak said that drive-in testing was performed in two locations in Koper. The average daily number is 40, but the number sometimes reaches 60, and if a test would take 30 minutes, the system would get "clogged", she added.

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3D printed face masks joining fight against Covid-19 in Slovenia

STA, 2 April 2020 - Shortages of protective gear during the coronavirus pandemic have prompted that new platforms of providing much needed equipment are opening up in Slovenia, such as creating face masks using 3D printers. An initiative has started developing hospital gear as well as supporting home production.

The Let's Protect Slovenia initiative has printed out the first 3D face shields in Slovenia in cooperation with the Primorska University, Izola hospital and Ljubljana Technology Park.

The university has said that the first prototypes have been already despatched to the hospital where they are being tested in the physical world.

Slovenia has thus actively joined foreign countries where the 3D printing technology is already used to mitigate shortages of the coveted gear during the pandemic.

The masks are printed at the university and are compatible with microbiological filters that are part of medical respirators.

A filter model that has been employed in developing 3D-printed masks is certified to be 99.99% efficient in protecting the wearer. The masks are meant for multiple use to boot.

Apart from providing the gear for hospitals, the initiative has also given guidelines on how to use 3D printers to make masks at home. Last week, it made available an open-source format for the Gladius Friends 3D-mask model.

Any 3D printer can be used to make this type of a reusable mask. The initiative thus launched a campaign titled Mask for a Friend, urging citizens to print masks for themselves and their friends.

Open-source groups in the US and other European countries have started to make use of the prototype of such a home-made mask as well.

It is important to note though that the mask has not been certified as a medical equipment or personal protective gear.

Reservations about the mask for domestic use have emerged as well as warnings regarding its safety. The 3D Slovenija group has warned against using the shield, saying such products are porous and of questionable quality, cannot be sufficiently disinfected, are difficult to fit or seal, with home-made filter systems even posing a potential danger to health.

The platform has thus proposed that it would be more viable to make only the prototype and then use printing modes of higher quality or even industrial devices to make the masks, mimicking the production process of dive masks.

Meanwhile, the Let's Protect Slovenia initiative insists that it is looking for the best possible solutions in the given situation, conceding that non-certified equipment is not optimal and that there is room for improvement.

Temperatures higher than 56 degrees Celsius kill coronaviruses and printed equipment can be disinfected in an oven. "We've tried disinfecting at 60 degrees Celsius, 45 minutes in an oven, and it works. I myself have tried it at even higher temperatures and the material endured," said microbiologist Teja Bajt of the initiative.

On the other hand, concerns have been raised about the material reacting to temperatures of 40 degrees already and the chemicals used in the process. The problem with disinfecting it is thus great, said Matej Auguštin, who works for pharmaceuticals.

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Hospital director resigns after contentious tweets

STA, 2 April 2020 - Slovenj Gradec hospital director Janez Lavre has resigned after finding himself in the limelight over a series of tweets which included threats to withhold coronavirus ventilator treatment to critics of the government.

Health Minister Tomaž Gantar has already accepted the resignation, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

Lavre, a physician who was once considered as potential health minister, published last week a series of politically charged and unethical tweets related to the situation in the country as the nation is fighting the epidemic.

"Great, you are not getting a ventilator," Lavre said in a response to Social Democrats (SD) presidency member Uroš Jauševec expressing satisfaction over the SD deciding not to back a government proposal to give the army certain policing powers.

He also lashed out against investigative journalist Blaž Zgaga over a tweet critical of the government: "You may be positive soon and then let's hear you squeak." He also referred to critical journalists as vermin in at least two of his tweets.

Lavre, a member of New Slovenia - Christian Democrats (NSi) until last year, closed down all of his social media accounts on Monday and issued an apology.

He said he was aware that the statements were inappropriate, offensive and unethical, and blamed them on the workload and mental stress in the face of events related to the handling of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Announcing the resignation "in relation to the inappropriate public communication by the director", the ministry said today that the matter would be "subject of further proceedings".

The Medical Chamber has already launched due proceeding and said the matter would be discussed by its committee for legal and ethical issues.

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