A First Wave of Covid-19 in the Czech Republic: Experience of a Young Geriatrician
Contributor: Vojtech Mezera
Origin/affiliation: Geriatric Center, Pardubice Hospital, Czech Republic
In March 2020, first cases of community SARS-CoV-2 transmission were reported in the Czech Republic. Our Ministry of Health proposed early strict measures to limit the spread of the virus, just one day after Italy, which had already been in an exponential phase.
There were some specifics of the Czech approach. First, patients were advised to stay home when feeling unwell. In case of suspicion, a special ambulance was dispatched with a specialized nurse in full PPE who took samples in patient´s home. In case of mild course of the disease, the patients were isolated at home and followed-up by local epidemiologists.
Second, many chronic conditions were treated remotely: by phone consults and medical prescription via text message, which was established in the Czech Republic two years ago.
These systemic measures probably led to less crowded emergency departments and less in-hospital transmission. The number of deaths was an order of magnitude lower than in similarly populous Belgium or Sweden.
I was appointed in April as a head of a quarantine unit. My scientific experience would be anecdotal, since we had only 11 patients with a maximum of 8 patients at a time. However, at a personal level, I learned that beside wearing a full Personal Protective Equipment, these were patients like everyone else. They had some other common diseases which needed to be treated. And more importantly, they needed a human approach including sufficient information for their families.