Dealing with a Pandemic

A global pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime event, so it’s no surprise that there have been countless different approaches to handling this crisis. This week in Notes from the Field, we asked our participants:

What are the opinions that you are hearing in your country of how your government has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Jesse Smeal, Rome, Italy

In my opinion and the opinion of many peers, we are very upset with how the government has and is handling the crisis. We are particularly upset with the lack of economic help and ineptitude of the government as a whole.

Emma Pratt, Tbilisi, Georgia

The Georgian government has received international praise for their response, and most people here concur (sometimes to their own chagrin). However, many people (in my circles, anyway) are worried that the Georgian Orthodox Church’s refusal to follow social distancing recommendations will cause a major outbreak, and are angry at the church itself, as well as at the government for not standing its ground. In mid-April, in the weeks leading up to Orthodox Palm Sunday and Easter, church attendance dramatically increased despite prohibitions against large gatherings.

Adela Muchova, Prague, Czechia

The prevailing opinion is that the government’s decisions are chaotic, communication unclear, and rules can be interpreted in many different ways. At the beginning, the government met daily and held long press conferences to demonstrate its readiness. People believe that strict measures (such as face masks, quarantine, closing businesses) are necessary to prevent the disease spreading. So public trust in the government is rather high, although experts (journalists, doctors) are rather critical towards the practical political decisions and steps taken.

Lyudmila Skryabina, Moscow, Russia

I think that our government is taking adequate measures in fighting the pandemic and in supporting the economy. Just recently the decision was made that the government will give money to small and medium-sized businesses to pay minimum wage salaries (currently 12,130 rubles/month) to workers in April and May in order to avoid massive unemployment. It seems to me that it’s possible to live on this amount of money in self-isolation. In addition, mortgage and credit payments have been delayed and penalties for late housing payments have been waived.

What has been overlooked? It seems to me that we should have closed the borders much sooner and not allowed travel abroad, starting in February. Unfortunately, people who returned from Europe and Asia at the end of February and beginning of March have spread the disease across Russia, especially in Moscow. They did not quarantine themselves but went to work, took public transportation, and now we have the lamentable result. Unfortunately, even when the quarantine was announced many people did not follow it immediately and instead continued to serve as sources of infection, not knowing that they were already ill themselves since they were not showing symptoms. Alas, that’s the trickery of COVID-19.

<< Check back tomorrow for a continuation of this post with answers from Hungary, Ukraine, and Lithuania!

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