I hope you are doing good during this unprecedented period. Undoubtedly, nobody was expecting to experience a pandemic. As of Monday 16/3, the Czech government declared a state of emergency closing the country borders and setting a list of bans. Long story short, people are allowed to leave their homes only to buy food and medicine, commute to work or go to hospitals. Also, any type of activity attracting a crowd of people, for instance a sport or cultural event, as well as the vast majority of services are banned.
Due to the pandemic, some of my FoodSmartphone-related activities are cancelled. So, my secondment to Barilla (Parma, Italy) and aprticipation in Biosensors 2020 conference (Busan, S. Korea) won’t happen as both countries face a great problem. In any case, this is not the time for travelling, people need to stay as much as possible at home to control the virus spread and stop its exponential growth.
In terms of lab-life, I can still make it to the University and do some project-related experiments. These are my final months under the FoodSmartphone contract and therefore I am in a rush to produce as much results as possible. We are working on something new and hopefully in a few months you will see it published. Honestly, lab-work puts me back to “normality” and gives me strength to continue. Nevertheless, the route from my place to the campus it’s quite depressing. Living 3 years now in Prague, I was used to a very lively city, full of people and excitement. In contrast to this, Prague it’s a “ghost” city right now. Looking always on the bright side, this means that people follow the guidelines and sooner than later the virus spread will be controlled!
In my view, this pandemic showcases the need of portable diagnostics. Health care systems struggling to control the huge amount of people that want to be tested. Keep in mind that most of them are diagnosed negative to the virus, for example out of 7664 individuals tested in the Czech Republic only 464 were positive (valid on 17/03/2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_coronavirus_pandemic_in_the_Czech_Republic) or about 6% of them. If a screening test was around, the Czech healthcare system would had tested 7204 less incidents saving diagnostic kits, medical staff working less and focused on infected people! In fact, this is a great inspiration for all of us working on portable diagnostics (even food diagnostics) and indicates the need to deliver more portable and validated screening devices.
Fingers crossed, this hard time will pass by soon and with a minimum number of victims. Until then, keep safe, keep calm and wash your hands!!