Yesterday, at least 345 Italians died from complications related to the Coronavirus in a single 24 hour period… and while the totals are much, much smaller in the Czech Republic and will hopefully stay low given the governments decision to quarantine the entire country, the potential for mass deaths is still extremely high. In Italy, the total dead now stands at 2,503 according to their Civil Protection Agency bringing the worldwide total to somewhere between 5000 and 8000 dead with more than 152,000 cases confirmed worldwide, according to the WHO (World Health Organization). That is a staggering number.
The U.S. death toll surpassed 100 on Tuesday and all 50 states have now reported cases.
The current quarantine in Czech, which may be extended, was announced by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Monday following an unprecedented cabinet meeting and will remain in effect until the 24th of March.
Under the restriction, residents can only leave their homes or flats to go to hospitals, to work, or to purchase basic needs. The hope is that this will stop the spread of the virus in the country where there are currently 239 confirmed cases.
Doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and others are under extreme amounts of stress and not just because of the mass numbers of infected… there are high numbers of people who are inexplicably turning up at hospitals because they feel like they might be infected with the virus and this is putting added strain on the staff.
One doctor, whose last name has been omitted for her privacy, pleaded with her followers last night on Facebook. What the doctor, who works at the Bulovka Hospital in Prague 8, shared is incredibly sad.
Roughly translated, the post (see image below) reads: “We can’t. We don’t sleep, we don’t eat, I haven’t used the bathroom since I don’t know when. The phone rings non-stop. Clearly, as doctors, we signed on to demanding work, we knew what we were getting ourselves into. But this is different. This is a sprint and a marathon in one – it is extremely intense and shows no sign of letting up.”
The post continues: “Despite the seemingly non-stop repetition of various media asking people not to go to hospitals to get tested unless they have real symptoms, there are still like a billion people showing up. So again – if you have no symptoms (or only slight symptoms), stay at home, drink plenty of fluids, take Paralen and stay calm. I do not understand the logic when people who are afraid of contracting the coronavirus come to a place where it is totally obvious the coronavirus will be.
People are lying to ambulances and to us about their symptoms to get tested just to see if they have it and feel like they are being treated poorly by the system. First of all – despite the sleep deficit, we are not completely stupid and know if someone is lying or not. It offends me when someone takes me for an idiot and we have to play kids theater. Secondly, they are wasting our time and energy (not to mention medical supplies, a commodity that we must try to use judiciously) that we could use for someone who really needs our care. I have been working in health care for a while, but I’ve never seen anything like this. When people stole our masks, it surprised me.
I would also appreciate it if people stopped shouting at me – on the phone and personally. I understand that this is a stressful situation for you, it is for me too, but screaming at me won’t really increase my work efficiency. Sure, you are angry at the government, you consider their measures too harsh / insufficient / poorly communicated, I get it, but remember that you are shouting at a poor doctor or nurse without knowing how long they’ve slept and I can no more control the Prime Minister’s decisions than I can change the weather in Sri Lanka.
Let’s just act wisely and treat each other like people.
(P.S.: When you claim that coronavirus is cool because only the elderly and / or sick will get it, you actually say that these people do not matter and that they are expendable. This is not a very good opinion.)”
It’s this last bit that is particularly disheartening and displays the worst of society. The quarantine is to protect the weakest among us… those with compromised immune systems. The elderly. And the fact that anyone could be so callous as to suggest that the virus is “cool” is just vile.
For a while, the quarantine didn’t affect restaurants, bars, or pubs… and it seemed odd that anyone would want to go out into groups during this crisis. Thankfully, that decision was soon changed… and while the closures may make people’s lives difficult in terms of finances, hopefully the government will step in as they are in other countries – many states in the US for example have introduced a moratorium on evictions.
Another doctor on Facebook posted the following image:
It kind of says it all. We need to work together to battle this thing, It does not discriminate… it doesn’t care if you’re white, black, asian, male, female, religious, atheist… or any other race or creed. It can come for anyone. At any time. So please, in this crazy time we’re all fighting through, do your best to be helpful… to be kind to those who have no choice but to work in public spaces… bus, tram, or metro drivers, grocery workers, gas station attendants and of course, healthcare workers. Also, if you’re going to the store, maybe see if anyone who lives nearby is elderly. Perhaps you could pick up some things for them.
A friend of mine in the states was at the store yesterday in L.A. He got to the cashier and she looked up at him and said, hesitantly, “there’s a two-item limit on everything, is that ok?” He seemed surprised that she’d ask and said, “sure, I get it.” She rang him up and, at the end, he said, “thanks for coming in to work today.” It only took seconds for her to break down crying. Then he started crying. For a moment, the whole front-end of the store stopped. My friend offered her a hug and then realized… we can’t so that now. But she was moved by his kind statement, and he was moved by her reaction. That is what we need right now. Kindness. Care. Respect.
That and a good hand cream.