Starting New Life (in Slovakia) with Coronavirus

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Futurilla via flickr // CC 2.0

Let us close our eyes and put citizens under house arrest for a few weeks. Then we open the eyes again and the virus is gone? This is not how it works. Yes, I have seen Chinese figures and I do not believe them either – gigantic continental China is supposed to have a similar number of new positive cases as the tiny Chinese Hong Kong?

A ritual economic suicide without the desired effect. It is enough to have one infected person coming from the neighbouring countries, and we are back to square one. Shall we shut the country down again? This time, food supplies would be available in the same amount as the number of protective medical supplies or tests provided by the former government.

Slovakia is not Wuhan. Slovakia is not even Bratislava alone. The optimal solution for the capital is different from the one for Pribylina (a small village in Slovakia). Closing a country like ours, where half of the population lives in the countryside, is a comfortable waiver of responsibility by those in charge.

Instead of killing the economy by closing down the whole country, it is possible to close individual villages or regions where the virus multiplies. Just like our neighbors did in the Czech town of Litovel.

We will have to learn how to live with the new coronavirus. It may be with us for years. A sudden turnaround in the form of a generally available vaccine or a weakening of the virus is as likely as winning the lottery.

Based on this assumption, no one responsible can build a state budget or take appropriate measures. The aim of the effort should not be zero new positive cases, but the smallest possible number, yet enabling a functioning economic life. So that our health system can handle it.

South Korea made it happen in two weeks. Korean politicians did not take the opportunity to make it easy by closing down the cities, businesses or shops. They did not close restaurants, let alone the entire economy.

The state was thoroughly informing the citizens, testing massively, and conscientiously searching for close contacts of the sick.

In the fight against coronavirus, South Korea considers its citizens to be partners, not prisoners. The centre of the infection has been isolated, but outside, the virus is gradually spreading through the population.

Slowly, controlled, about 100 new cases per day among the population ten times bigger than in Slovakia. There are incomparably fewer people dying from COVID-19 than in other developed virus-affected countries. A functioning network of testing combined with operative quarantine allows an early return to normal life.

Well, almost normal. Without mass public events and with a mask on everyone’s faces in case of movement in areas with other people.

Yes, I know that Slovakia has failed in these areas. But this does not automatically mean that the situation is bad in our country. Models are bad, real life figures are surprisingly good. For both severe cases and the proportion of positive tests in the total number of tests. In Slovakia, it is 4% on average in the last week – like in Taiwan, Singapore, Korea and Germany.

In the Czech Republic, where they would do more tests in two days than our state did in the last month, the rate is 5.5%. In Italy – almost 25% and in Spain it is as high as 50%.

Minor changes have an exponential impact on the spread of the virus. Yet, we did undergo fundamental changes a few weeks ago. People now wear masks, wash their hands more often, and treat each other as potential carriers of the virus.

These measures have a major impact on how the virus spreads, which must also be reflected in the figures.

An early return to normal life is not a choice, but a necessity. That is, unless more people are to die from the effects of poverty or lack of resources to treat other diagnoses. When it comes to opening, it will be important to allow people to work.

The state should do everything to make it possible for anyone who is willing to work to return to their every-day routines. There will be time for bureaucracy once it gets better. The danger of bad times will be present even if we do all our homework perfectly.

Economic depression, state defaults, and inflation money are imaginable scenarios today. Therefore, it is now crucial to look further than just a few months ahead. In a year, there does not have to be enough money not for the 13th, but even for the 12th or 11th pension.


Continue exploring:

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Coronavirus and Changing Labor Market

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