Quick action, mandatory face masks, and luck have spared the countries of central and eastern Europe (CEE) the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak, the Financial Times (FT) reports.
As COVID-19 infections run rampant across Europe, CEE has contained the coronavirus so well that a glimpse of a post-lockdown world is visible as shops and schools reopen, FT writes.
The divide between CEE and western and southern Europe is striking. On Tuesday alone, Spain, Italy, and the UK all suffered more deaths than the Czech Republic, Hungary or Slovakia have recorded during the entire crisis, FT reports.
The first cases of COVID-19 didn’t hit the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland until the first week of March, giving them more time to prepare.
But once the outbreak hit, authorities in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland responded quickly and decisively. They closed their borders, restricted movement, and barred public gatherings well before other EU countries.
Martin McKee, professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, cites the country’s fast action as key to their success, FT writes.
The mandatory wearing of face masks in public was vital to curbing the outbreak in the Czech Republic, Czech epidemiologist Roman Prymula told FT.
Analysts caution that because COVID-19 spreads so rapidly, there is no guarantee CEE countries will successfully navigate the reopening of society.