November 10th in Lithuania


COVID is still top news. Cases increasing while hospital beds and staff grow scarce

Healthcare System Nears Collapse

There is a growing shortage of COVID-19 beds and doctors, who warn that the Lithuanian healthcare system is now close to collapse. The outgoing government announced a second quarantine in Lithuania last week, as five major hospitals in the country worked almost at full capacity.

Although the situation in the Vilnius region is not yet considered critical, according to doctors at Kaunas Hospital of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LSMU), they will soon experience staff shortage and are calling for volunteers. The situation is similar in Šiauliai Hospital, where many doctors have succumbed to the coronavirus.

In the five major hospitals, there are 401 spots for coronavirus patients, with a possibility of adding another 262. If these hospitals reached their capacity, patients will need to go to regional hospitals, where 587 extra spots are available.

The government sent doctors to places where the shortage of medical staff is the most severe. According to some reports, regional hospitals received little information on how the epidemiological situation might develop and what actions they might need to take.

Mink Farms Monitored for COVID

Lithuania is watching out for possible coronavirus mutations in mink farms, the Agriculture Ministry said after Denmark to cull all minks grown in the country.

The Veterinary Service has confirmed that there are no signs of COVID-19 at Lithuanian farms and called on animal farmers to ensure that if workers develop any symptoms, they must be isolated from contact with the animals.

Česlovas Tallat-Kelpša, the president of the Lithuanian Animal Breeders Association, says Lithuanian businesses are very concerned about the coronavirus mutation in Denmark. Figures from the Agriculture Ministry show 71 breeders in Lithuania are growing 1.9 million animals.

Denmark, the world’s largest producer of mink fur, said on Wednesday it would cull all minks at fur farms after a new mutated coronavirus version was detected spreading among the people. Some 12 Danes have already contracted the virus that mutated in minks. Scientists are concerned that the mutated virus might fully or partially invalidate the coronavirus vaccines being developed at the moment.

A New App for Meetings

With more and more meetings taking place online due to COVID-19, a new virtual assistant is being developed in Lithuania by language technology firm Tilde IT. It will encompass the entire process, from coordinating dates to reporting on tasks accomplished. The app will require an investment of over 800,000 euros.

According to various studies, meetings take up about 15% of employee time, and require about 12 hours per work week for preparation and attendance. Tilde IT CEO Renata Špukienė notes that the tasks involved in meetings include setting time and date, venue, meeting guidelines, minutes and follow-up notes as well as monitoring follow-up. All of this will be accomplished by this undprecedented virtual assistant. Although little data is available in Lithuania, US studies show that ineffective meetings add up to losses of up to $283 billion. There are some applications on the market for planning, documentation, and translation, but there is no single tool for the whole process. The product under development will be based on four languages: Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian and Russian, with speech recognition and simultaneous interpretation. Data analysis will show how much time an organization spends on meetings and how efficient they are, with tracking for off-topic and repetitive presentation. 

The project is due to start this autumn and will be finished in two years, financed by the European Union and the government of Lithuania.

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