The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) has released a study by Cristina Gherasimov which reads that Eastern Europe may face major threats sparked by the coronavirus.
The study says that the countries of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine – are underprepared to face the approaching peak of the Covid-19 pandemic and will likely be severely affected.
Against the background of chronically weak institutions and healthcare systems, political crises, upcoming elections, and installed states of emergency in four of the six states, many things can go wrong. Meanwhile the EU does not have the capacity to focus solely on Eastern Partnership countries.”
The study says that as of April 6, 2020, Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine reported the highest total number of Covid-19 cases in the six partner countries of the EaP while Georgia reported the lowest.
#Armenia & #Moldova are so far the most affected per capita. #Ukraine is most vulnerable, #Belarus a ticking time bomb. Testing is scarce, real magnitude of pandemic unknown. Hospitals are ill-equipped to face the full brunt of the crisis. 1/3 of total ???????? cases are doctors. 2/8 pic.twitter.com/hlzZjEUyoy— DGAP (@dgapev) April 7, 2020
Although the numbers throughout the EU’s eastern neighborhood are generally still low compared to its member states, the magnitude of infections is not yet known.
According to the study responses by the governments of the six EaP countries to the early warning signs of the approaching pandemic differed widely but were equally dramatic.
While Georgia decided to immediately introduce drastic measures and is generally considered to have been able to keep its number of coronavirus cases low as a result, the remaining five countries reacted much more slowly.
The study says that crisis management throughout the region is seriously undermined by a lack of action plans, poor coordination across different government agencies, and the scarcity of professionals in related ministries and national crisis units.
Georgia is a laudable exception; the government there put three health professionals in the driver’s seat of its national response to the crisis.
Read the full study here.