The Czech Corona Curve--What, Why and Now What?
So...how is everyone doing?
|March and April 2020|
Yeah, same here.
However, we here in the Czech Republic have largely come out of quarantine and are feeling pretty optimistic about the rest of spring and summer. Why?
|worldometers.info is the source of all graphs and charts on this page|
That's why. These two graphs--total deaths above and active cases below--have flattened. Indeed, the active cases graph has turned noticeably downward, as infections from the early phase of the pandemic resolve. Fortunately, most of those resolutions have been positive and hospital capacity was never seriously in danger. Things went about as well as could reasonably be expected, and much better than initial models predicted. This is good news.
So, what was done?
|We'll get there.|
Here's a breakdown of when things happened on a graph of what the situation was at the time.
|Text additions mine based on date of announcement.|
If you look back up at the deaths chart, you'll see that the government acted swiftly and decisively even before the first death occurred. The Italian border is closer to Prague than Washington, DC is to Boston. Many Czechs spent their spring break--in late February and early March--skiing in Italy, and most of the early cases came via that route. Moreover, the Italian exmaple must have been a stark one for Czech officials. And so, they acted.
A lot of people--including some media outlets and the Prime Minister--have emphasized the use of masks. Maybe that was what did it. We're unlikely ever to know for certain. What seems clear, however, is the fact that by acting quickly, many infections were prevented, and many lives were saved. Indeed, there are still fewer Czech coronvirus cases--and deaths--than there were in Italy before they imposed their national quarantine.
So, now what?
Well, now, we reopen.
Freedom of movement (with masks and social distancing requirements still in place, in theory) was restored April 24th. Some kinds of non-essential shops/services started earlier this week, and as for the rest...
|You better believe Czechs are eyeing that May 11th date...|
The only remaining question marks are about universities (which will probably finish the year remotely except for exams and thesis work, though the situation is fluid) and international travel, which is allowed again, but discouraged and comes with a lot of hoops. Moreover, there are no international flights, trains, or buses, so, it's severely limited. The question of when the country will open up again for tourists is a hotly debated one, but I suspect that will rely much more on what the situation is like in other countries than it does on the domestic situation.
Of course, all of this optimism relies on infection rates remaining low and the curve not reversing, which, given that this was the scene on Saturday the 25th at a popular farmers' market in Prague...
...is still an open question.