‘Don’t panic about COVID-19, learn from Latvia,’ says Pabriks

“Resilience is about education. COVID-19 will not be the last emergency faced by Europe,” said Latvian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Artis Pabriks. “We must all learn from this, change our mindset when it comes to crisis management, educate our citizens.”

Speaking with EURACTIV reporter Brian Maguire, Pabriks outlined why Europe urgently needs to create a “readiness culture”.

In Latvia, Pabriks recently launched a preparedness campaign called “72hrs”, encouraging citizens to be prepared for any type of crisis and teaching them how to survive on their own for at least seventy-two hours. In doing so, he said, citizens will reduce their vulnerabilities and minimise serious risks.

The change in mindset, he said, comes from education: by enhancing critical thinking, media literacy, cyber hygiene, and digital literacy.

“Resilience relates to managing the consequences of all threats and hazards,” said Pabriks. “Our national state defence system is focusing on enhancing resilience – societal, psychological economic – and reducing vulnerabilities, by improving the resilience of key infrastructure assets, critical sectors and societies, and each individual.”

“Since it doesn’t really matter whether a power station has been destroyed by floodwaters or explosive devices, or whether a telecommunications supply chain has been compromised by cyber-attacks or software glitches, the response is largely the same.”

“The backbone of Latvia’s plan is to take a ‘whole of society’ approach, allowing every actor, whether it is an individual, organisation, company or a governmental body, to realise that in certain circumstances each of them becomes an important part of state defence,” Pabriks said.

Coronavirus – How should the EU respond?

With the most recent outbreak of coronavirus, now known by its official name COVID-19, announced over the weekend in Italy, the EU is taking precautions to stem the spread of the virus.

And as of 24 February, 178 cases of coronavirus …

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