The crisis, brought on by the Coronavirus, put every country in the world to the challenge the likes of which we haven’t seen for decades. No one has a clear recipe for success and so diverse solutions are being tried. However one country in Europe is amongst the best in the world in managing the crisis, according to most health-related criteria - it’s Czech Republic.
Czechia has a very low mortality rate and the country put many regulations in place earlier than many of its neighboring countries, which followed weeks later or, in same cases, still have to follow in the future.
Can these success be attributed to the Czech Government? Only partially, at best.
The situation in Czechia had been very chaotic at the beginning of March, after the first Covid-19 cases turned up. The government put the drastic regulations in place in a very rash way, often announcing sweeping changes mere hours before they would come into effect. Even the Law on Activation of the Crisis Task Force had been amended moments before the said activation.
Even worse, on the frontline of the fight against the virus key materials, such as respirators, were in catastrophically short supply. The government had loudly proclaimed in January, that the supply is sufficient, however.
A huge wave of participation and volunteering came as a counter-reaction.
Already within a week the hashtag #rouškyvšem (Masksforall) spread massively in the internet. The Pirate mayor of Prague, together with his ruling coalition, declared a Face Mask Requirement in Public transport on his own initiative on 16th of March. Only in the face of public pressure did the government make wearing masks mandatory on 18th - and basically everywhere.
A new problem arose in that moment - there were no face masks for people to wear, as well as not enough respirators, protective garments or even disinfectant. Again, the civil society rose to the challenge. Hundreds, even thousands of private initiatives from individuals sewing masks, to whole companies producing protective gear sprang up from the ground. The civil society triumphed, where the government failed.
Almost two months have passed since the outbreak of the crisis in Czechia and now we can show the world the best projects that our civil society came up with.
We hope, that these will be a welcome inspiration.
The hashtag #rouskyvsem appeared in early May as soon as the quick spread of Covid-19 in Italy became known. Countries like South Korea and Taiwan served as inspiration, as their strategies in tackling the virus involved using Face masks. Various videos and guides for making a face mask appeared, as there were none to be had on the market.
Because the Face masks seemed to have worked in Czechia a collective of volunteers, scientists and expert grouped under the hashtag #Masks4Al. The goal of their website and videos is to convince the world public of benefits of Face masks in combating the virus.
A Guide for creating improvised protective gear
A Guide for making a Face mask without sewing
Official Guide of the US CDC
Proper care of a Face mask (english subtitles have to be turned on)
Guides for manufacturing disinfectants
The lack of protective gear is still a worldwide problem at the moment. Decades of outsourcing of production to China has proven to be detrimental. As the european states cannot come up with the required quantities in a short enough time, the private sector and volunteers have to come up with alternatives.
The name of this platform is a play on the popular delivery service “Dáme Jídlo”.
It is a de-centralised, volunteer-based platform, which connects makers of Face masks and other protective gear with institutions and individuals, who need these.
Anyone can put up a demand or offer on to the map, the platform doesn’t take up a regulating role unless a commercial offer is posted. Money can still be demanded for the products, but only to cover the Manufacturing costs.
For digital non-natives, sending your offer/demand per email to the organisers is also possible.
Several sister-project have already been in established in Europe, based on the same principles and the same web infrastructure of the Czech company Mapotic.com.
This simple project originated in the opposition group “Miliony chvilek pro demokracii”. It is a simple Google Maps filter in which individuals, groups or institutions can post their offer/demand of help in the Corona Crisis (such as organised shopping for the elderly, baby sitting and so on).
This simple system is of course not perfect and cannot measure up to the effective state-organised volunteering networks that some developed countries have. In countries that do not have these, however, it is a viable and elegant alternative
Had Coronavirus threatened only our health, it would still be the greatest threat to our human society. Unfortunately, as a result of the restrictive measures everywhere in the world, the economy is suffering just like our health systems. The most threatened group is the one every politician loves to mention - the small and medium-sized business.
Not even the jewel of Czech Entrepreneurship, the Czech breweries, are spared by this threat.