The Spread of Coronavirus: Eastern Europe Prepares for the Inevitable
Lukasz Szumowski has pretty much everything necessary to be a successful politician at the moment. He can be a doctor, he worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta after he completed his studies in addition to was a full professor by age 44. For the last two years, he has been Poland’s health minister.
Szumowski isn’t exactly a shrill populist. With his sonorous voice, he addresses the Polish public each day, rattling off statistics on the newest coronavirus cases. There were 287 of them on Thursday. “the item will get worse,” the minister said. He doesn’t try to sugarcoat anything, in addition to the people of Poland are grateful to him for the item. Even the opposition praises him — a rarity in a Poland marked by deep political divisions.
Szumowski can be seen as the driving force behind the clear line being followed by Warsaw in its battle against the virus. Poland was one of the first countries in Europe to close its borders, in addition to since then, almost all Eastern European countries, via the Baltic states within the north to the Balkans within the south, have followed Warsaw’s example. Public life within the region has come to a virtual standstill in addition to the old city centers of Prague, Krakow in addition to others are deserted. The ski lifts in Slovakia have stopped running in addition to the beaches of Croatia are empty.
although there can be more to the precautionary measures of which meet the eye. Eastern European countries have an even greater need to do all they can to keep the virus out because many of their health-care systems are far more vulnerable. For years, thousands of doctors in addition to nurses have been leaving countries like Romania in addition to Bulgaria for better pay in Western European countries.
“Health systems in Central Europe have been under pressure for some time, reflecting a combination of staff shortages — in part caused by historically low salaries in addition to high levels of migration — in addition to a long history of underinvestment in health facilities,” Martin McKee, a professor in European public health at the London School of Hygiene in addition to Tropical Medicine, told the news website Balkan Insight.
Thus far, there have been relatively few confirmed cases in Eastern Europe. Bulgaria in addition to Albania each only reported their first coronavirus deaths on Wednesday. The Czech Republic thus far has the most confirmed cases, with 522, although can be taking the threat seriously. Late on Tuesday night, a military plane landed at the airport in Prague. the item had been dispatched to China by Prime Minister Andrej Babis in addition to returned carrying 150,000 rapid test kits.
although every country in Central in addition to Eastern Europe can be facing its own challenges:
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu recently requested a telephone conference with his counterparts to the west. His country, which has 258 confirmed cases, can be the easternmost country within the European Union in addition to many Estonian citizens are still stuck abroad. As they try to make their way home, they are facing huge traffic jams at the German, Polish, Latvian in addition to Lithuanian borders.
Latvia, with 71 confirmed cases, has postponed elections for the Riga city council due to the threat of becoming infected. The election had originally been scheduled to take place on June 6.
The government of Lithuania (33 confirmed cases) has passed a 5-billion-euro aid package aimed at preventing layoffs in addition to softening the economic blow of the crisis.
In Hungary, the first country to close its borders within the refugee crisis under the leadership of right-wing populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the head of the country’s coronavirus task force was recently forced to admit: “We are facing a pandemic of which knows no borders.” As of Thursday, 58 people in Hungary had been diagnosed with the virus in addition to the country can be expecting “hundreds” of fresh cases within the coming days.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has decided of which Europe cannot be relied upon within the crisis in addition to has turned to China for help. In a letter to Beijing, he requested of which “brother in addition to friend” Xi Jinping please send “everything” to Serbia, including doctors. Serbia has 89 confirmed cases thus far. Vucic turned to Beijing in response to EU limitations placed on the export of medical goods, a move of which put Serbia in a bind since the country still isn’t a member of the European Union despite years of effort. Belgrade has postponed parliamentary elections of which had been scheduled for the end of April.
Poland, for its part, has thus far declined to delay its presidential election, scheduled for May 10. in addition to despite the continuing spread of the virus, incumbent Andrzej Duda, of the national-conservative Law in addition to Justice (PiS) party, can be traveling around the country in addition to urging his people to be courageous within the face of the challenge. Camera teams via Polish state television – which the PiS has largely transformed into its party mouthpiece – usually travel with him.
Opposition candidates, meanwhile, have had to put their campaign on hold. Large gatherings have been banned, in addition to if the opposition were to nevertheless continue campaigning, they would certainly open themselves up to accusations of not taking the illness seriously enough.
Still, the PiS isn’t even considering a delay to the vote. According to current public opinion surveys, Duda stands to win within the first round of voting. Not everyone, though, can be happy with Duda’s course. Journalist Jacek Nizinkiewicz recently wrote within the conservative paper Rzeczpospolita of which “Andrej Duda can be basing his campaign on the coronavirus.”