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School closures recommended to combat the coronavirus epidemic

March 12th, 2020

A liberal economist thinks closing schools would be a useful step to slow down the spread of an epidemic and thus help the health service cope with the disease.
On Index, economist Miklós Koren doesn’t urge Hungary to close down all schools immediately, but argues that should the gravity of the epidemic increase, such a measure would become necessary. The author, a professor of economics at Central European University, analyses the result of a French study on the impact of school holidays and public transport strikes on the spread of seasonal flu. During the two weeks after such lulls in everyday life, the number of new flu cases drops by an average 25 per cent. He thinks that is not vital in case of a seasonal influenza, because it normally does not require hospital treatment. The coronavirus, on the other hand sends a high proportion of the infected to hospitals. Thus, Koren writes, in case the epidemic reaches mass dimensions, it will be advisable to close down schools in Hungary, lest hospitals become overburdened.

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