COVID-19 Manifesto for Slovakia

"The Golden Haggadah" via British Library // CC

The ongoing epidemic requires an adequate response. In terms of the upcoming weeks, Slovakia should proceed in an organized and responsible manner.

Such an action plan should entail the following aspects:

  1. Prepare a Detailed Plan on Closing and Opening of the Economy

  • Decisions on a „lockdown“, regional restrictions of economic activity as well as opening local economy or schools should not be decided ad hoc, based on emotions or the outcomes of Crisis Committee discussions.

    It must be the outcome of rigorously established procedure signalizing change of predetermined indicators. This implies the procedure will be automatized and thus, there will be no need to challenge the changes in public or political discourse.

  • Regarding the indicators, they may include daily increments of the infected, relative proportion of the infected and the trend of development in a defined region, the number of localities with a recent incidence, average rate of infection per 1000 tested people, calculable values R0, indicators of infection rate in neighbouring countries, current capacity of vacant places in hospitals, etc.

  • Due to potential economic impact, it is inevitable to introduce infection spread model alternative to the one prepared by the ministerial Health Policy Institute.

  • The economy cannot be opened after the last person will have been cured, but as soon as possible.

  1. Completion of Testing Infrastructure

  • It is likely that coronavirus will be present for months, maybe even years, and therefore, it is necessary to build up sufficient capacities and sample-collection teams in cooperation with private labs, the army and the Ministry of Interior. In order to increase the collection capacities, it is necessary to train new health workers.

  • Apart from massive testing of symptomatic individuals or people who have been in contact with an infected individual, massive random testing needs to be introduced in order to uncover hidden sources of infection. In addition, automatic regular testing of workers in health facilities, schools as well as retirement homes should also be carried out.

  • A test for coronavirus should become a routine part of a check-up at general practitioner (or be implemented as a part of a regular check-up in any other way) – at least over the course of the next year.

  • It is necessary to allow private testing with reporting obligation to the Public Health Authority.

  • Introduction of an alarm system: a predetermined reaction algorithm in case of a positively-tested individual. (In addition to quarantine and identification of people who were in contact with the infected, we also suggest to increase the rate of testing in the community where an infected individual was detected.)

  • Track movement of the population based on anonymized data from mobile services operators or Google, taking the advantage of private initiatives and apps in effort to get the most accurate interim estimates of R0 possible.

  1. Prepare A Flexible Quarantine Plan

  • General restrictions of movement, economic activity or even lockdown need to be replaced by flexibly localized quarantines. The procedure used in Wuhan as a region with a great density of population is not applicable for Slovakia with its rural character.

    In case of necessity, it is possible to lock down specific villages, individual cities or even smaller regional units.

  1. Create Criteria and Rules for Sanitizing Public and Common Spaces

  • Establishing also criteria for the maximum number of people within exterior spaces – parks, playgrounds and similar.

  1. Ensuring Basic Income for People Who Cannot Work

  • Use the existing allowance system which can secure the benefit for the recipient in the shortest period of time (material need benefit, unemployment benefit, etc.).

  • Use European funds as the option number one for this purpose too.

  • Decentralise the help for those in need and involve self-governing bodies too.

  1. Facilitate the Restart of Slovak Economy

  • Simplify the rules and requirements regarding the start and the end of an employment contract and the start of a business.

  • Deregulate, de-bureaucratize and free the private sector as much as possible. Entrepreneurial innovative identification of crisis/ post-crisis opportunities will be the key element of the country’s economic restart.

    Deregulation and low tax-levy burden will accelerate the transition towards pre-crisis economy performance (certainly, the speed of recovery will depend on how swift the recovery of strong European economies will be – e.g. car manufacturing)

  • Suspense the supervision operations temporarily or review the strictness of regulations radically (hygiene, health and safety, breeding inspections, etc.)

Translated from Slovak by Diana Kralova and Ina Secikova

Continue exploring:

Preventing Upcoming Post-Epidemic Catastrophe

Coronavirus and Changing Labor Market