At ESN CU Prague we are fully aware of what a turn international students’ lives have taken over the past few weeks...truth to be told, whose life hasn’t? But we acknowledge the added struggle of dealing with the situation in a foreign country, which is why we are doing our best to be here for you and help you stay safe, both by providing you with information and, as of recently, protective material.
You may have noticed that the Czech Republic has chosen the strategy of some strict measures, which are helping to ‘flatten the curve’. Chances are that you have heard this expression before - what it means is simply adopting precautionary measures to reduce the exponential growth of those infected and in need of medical help. The main reason is to avoid hospitals’ overload with patients and a potential crash of the system. We are in times when it is necessary to remember that everything is connected, which means that every individual action matters.
This is why we have (along with the university and government authorities) been stressing the importance of the aforementioned precautionary habits to you. One of those has become compulsory in certain situations, and that is wearing a mask when outside/in contact with other people.
As we understand that it might be tricky to sew a mask in a dorm room, we have recently provided international students living in dorm rooms with washable cotton masks, so please allow me a line to thank my colleagues at ESN who were involved in the sewing and transportation process. We left masks for you at the entrance receptions of the Větrník and Hvězda dormitories and asked the doorkeepers to distribute them among exchange students exclusively. The amount of masks is limited, but we have done our best and you can watch in the video we’re sharing with you below what a difference every single mask makes. And we have one simple, but crucial favour to ask you - please do play your part by wearing these when necessary. By using a mask, you become part of the ‘I protect you, you protect me’ scheme, taking care of yourself and those around you.
One more important piece of information regarding the use of masks is to wear them in the right manner and in the right situations. This includes making sure your mask sits snug on your face, not touching it (or your face) and removing it in the correct manner. However, it is also important to wash a cotton mask on high temperature and iron it if possible (or boil it for a few minutes in a large pot of water designated specifically for this) and wearing it effectively. The latter means that in situations where it is not necessary, one shouldn’t wear a mask, as this decreases its effectiveness until the next washing (the mask gets damp). So please do wear masks, but wear them in the right way and sterilise them after every use.
We know how overwhelmed with news one can feel at the moment, so we have curated a short list of the following sites where you can get reliable information:
- Czech Ministry of Health: https://koronavirus.mzcr.cz/en/
- Information about the current situation provided by Charles University: https://cuni.cz/UKEN-379.html?news=9601&locale=en
- The World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Lastly, we wholeheartedly suggest that you watch this short video explaining how the measures in the Czech Republic are helping to flatten the curve locally as well as why it is so important to always leave home (the dorms) with your mask on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZtEX2-n2Hc.
We hope that you are staying healthy and protecting yourself and the others, and we are here for you in these tough times.
On behalf of ESN CU Prague
5 April 2020
Images courtesy of ESN CU Prague archive