Europe Response to COVID-19

Europe Response to COVID-19

Following China and Iran, European countries were the next in line to feel the impacts of COVID-19. Italy and then Spain were the hardest hit with the number of cases and deaths on a sharp and frightening trajectory over many weeks.

According to sources, the EU reacted swiftly in making funds available with the priorities being the health of citizens, supplies of medical equipment and support for jobs and the economy.

Italy and Spain quickly put large areas into lockdown in an attempt to contain the spread. EU leaders agreed to temporary travel restrictions to contain the spread.

The 865 billion euros have were allocated/redirected from EU funds to assist member countries with crisis response and economic initiatives.

Having recently departed from the EU, the UK implemented its own relief and support programs.

The UK was also relatively swift to put sectors into a shutdown phase, closing non-essential services and directing citizens to stay home and adhere to social distancing rules. In the early stages, it became very clearly to the Brits that no one was immuned to COVID-19 with Prince Charles and then Prime Minister Boris Johnson contracted the virus.

The UK implemented a wage subsidy scheme covering 85% of wages as well as a raft of other measures as detailed on the UK Government website https://www.gov.uk/government/latest?topical_events%5B%5D=coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

The NHS, National Health System, in the UK has been under pressure as have all global health services, but this nationalised approach appears to have been much more streamlined and available to more people than the more complex and privatised US system. Also seen was an outpouring of support for the NHS and its workers from across all sectors of the UK, which created a very united attitude to the emergency response.

Many European countries, especially Italy and Spain, were seemingly taken by surprise by the fast spread of COVID-19 and by early April, their efforts have been focussed on simply dealing with the health crisis rather than having time or opportunity to focus on the economic issues.

Other countries that less affected early, had the opportunity to learn lessons from Italy, Spain and Iran and put measures into place early and move faster to addressing the economic consequences.

Terms like ‘staying ahead of the curve’ and ‘flattening the curve’ have become universally understood and daily topics of conversation internationally.

As COVID-19 becomes the world war for this and following generations, the world is yet to start counting the final cost in terms of lives and economic loss.