“Medical staff never admit it when they are exhausted”

Bogdan, Samo and Tilen A new app showcased at the EU hackaton event "EUvs.Virus" could help doctors and nurses estimate their level of fatigue Slovenia, Ljubljana

We’ve all come to know medical staff as part of the long list of heroes during the pandemic. But they’re still humans who get tired like the rest of us, albeit with potentially more drastic consequences. “Emergency medical staff have to help, that’s in their nature. They don’t always know when to or have the option to stop, and they can underestimate their level of fatigue. That’s when mistakes can happen,” says Dr Bogdan Florea. To solve this problem, Dr Florea and his team tapped into the Internet of Things. Together they created a technology called BRNoutID: a smartphone app “reads” the user’s eyes and matches results with brain activity data. At the end of the process, the user gets accurate, real-time burnout results. The solution was developed and presented at the first online Pan-European Hackathon event EUvs.Virus, organised by the European Commission. The event aimed to identify solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The #EMKrepi campaign unites Slovenian businesses and young people to help restart our economy”

Nika Encourages young people to prioritise Slovenian products and services purchases during the COVID-19 crisis Slovenia, Ljubljana

As local shops across Slovenia face the consequences of the lockdown, the “European Youth Card” (#EMKrepi) campaign has become a source of hope. The idea is simple. By joining the European Youth Card programme, Slovenian people below 30 years old gain access to various advantages at local businesses. They can also help safeguard friends’ businesses. The initiative is led by the Slovenian Youth Agency (SLOAM) and encourages young people to develop their potential, integrate in society, and make responsible choices. The programme already counts over 120,000 cardholders – representing 40% of Slovenia’s youth. “The card provides various benefits, including over 70,000 discounts around Europe. #EMKrepi is its latest innovation. It will help young people to obtain primarily Slovenian products and services over the coming months, which in turn will help to relaunch our economy,” Nika Stegovec explains.

“As in the beginning there were no groups or models which would monitor and predict the future of the epidemic, we were happy to jump in”

Matjaž and Leon Two Slovenian nuclear engineers set out to provide competent authorities with key COVID-19 evolution statistics Slovenia, Ljubljana

All around Europe, citizens are holding their breath. Lockdown measures are progressively lifted, but the possibility of a second wave is still very real. Only time – and more specifically, statistics – will tell how soon we can expect the COVID-19 to become a bad memory. In Slovenia, Dr. Matjaž Leskovar and Professor Dr. Leon Cizelj’s regular release of the latest COVID-19 statistics have become a reference for services in charge of planning new measures. It wasn’t always their calling: Initially, they undertook modelling of Covid-19 out of curiosity and consideration for timely readiness – a constant in nuclear energy. The statistics, published by the Reactor Engineering Division at the Jožef Stefan Institute, focus on the spread of COVID-19 in Slovenia. Presentations are made available on a dedicated Youtube channel.

“Our lab is working to provide a faster and cheaper way to prepare a vaccine”

Roman Leads a team of researchers looking for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments Slovenia, Ljubljana

There are countless studies into coronavirus going on around Europe and research into COVID-19 is evolving by the day. Professor Dr. Roman Jerala, together with his team of researchers at the Chemical Institute in Ljubljana, contributes to the international efforts in developing drugs and vaccines to fight the new virus. The European Union has been at the forefront of supporting innovation and coordinating global research efforts, including preparedness for pandemics. Their actions address epidemiology, response to outbreaks, the development of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines, and the resources needed to enable this research. The Commission and national ministries have also agreed on the first ERAvsCorona action plan, which lays out 10 priority coordinated actions to tackle coronavirus.

“In addition to teaching, I am also trying to encourage kids and parents”

Jerneja Teaches school children remotely Slovenia, Ljubljana

For some children, attending school at home, coupled with the uncertainty about when they will return, has been traumatic. Primary school teacher Jerneja ensures that, despite the state of emergency, her students continue to learn and take part in lessons. In addition, she is trying to build interpersonal relationships, mutual understanding, and gratitude between children and their parents. Many parents reported that their child misses their classmates, and several reported that they miss their teacher. Jerneja says she is in constant contact with parents and does what she can to communicate with those who lack computers and technology. She uses different phone apps to communicate with the parents, who have her phone number to reach out to her about their children's needs. “I miss seeing them", Jerneja said. However, she told us there was one upside to remote learning: “I am seeing more creativity and collaboration than I have seen in years".

“It was obvious that I had to help”

Vladimir Ensures that commuters are still able to get to work Slovenia, Ljubljana

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced taxi companies across Europe to get creative, with many offering food and medicine delivery services. However, many people are still struggling to find ways to commute to work. In Slovenia, public transport has been temporarily shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When taxi driver Vladimir Vidaković heard that his mother's colleague now had to walk for an hour just to get to her job, he decided to drive her for free. After he realized that many other people were in the same situation, he started offering his services to the wider community. Such solidarity can be seen across Europe. Since the lockdown, the Federation of Taxi Drivers of Madrid estimated that their drivers have made about 75,000 free journeys taking patients or medical equipment.

“I wanted to help people who were in urgent need”

Jelena Produces much-needed face masks for healthcare workers Slovenia, Ljubljana

From the major fashion houses using their production facilities to manufacture face masks, hospital gowns, and hand sanitiser, to the smaller labels donating their profits to great causes, the fashion community has truly pulled together in recent weeks. Artists and designers often are the first responders to reflect the needs of society. By nature, artists are cunningly innovative, constantly ideating, and deeply dedicated to the creative task ahead. Fashion designer Jelena Proković has partnered with other fashion designers, costume designers, stylists and seamstresses in the “Mask_Sign” initiative, where together they sewed protective masks from morning until evening. They created over 1 000 washable cotton masks for adults and hundreds of children's masks which they donated to members of the most vulnerable groups and employees of health and social care institutions.