Meeting to discuss epidemiological situation in Belarus

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko heard out a report on the preparedness of the healthcare system to counteract the threat of spreading coronavirus on 7 April.

Attending the meeting were members of the government, heads of both houses of parliament and state bodies, governors, heads of healthcare departments of regional administrations and Minsk City Hall, heads of health institutions and the national research and practical center of epidemiology and microbiology. All in all, 30 people were present at the meeting.

The head of state, first of all, emphasized that we cannot condone people’s deaths and must fight for every life. “We must fight for every person, especially when it comes to the elderly. If we want our children to protect us and to fight for our lives in the future, we must fight for the lives of every elderly man and woman because, unfortunately, this virus is especially dangerous for the elderly, for people with a weakened immune system,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

At the same time, the President stressed that people must take care of their health, strengthen their immunity, engage in sports activities, give up on bad habits. “We are fighting for every person. We value the health of every person more than some people value their own health,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “People must take care of their own health.”

The head of state added that the situation with coronavirus helped shake up the healthcare system and reveal some problems. “I see bottlenecks in our healthcare system. But we will talk about it when this psychosis is over and when these diseases fade away,” he said.

“We will discuss the healthcare system. The issue of combating infectious diseases is getting to the forefront. The problem is closely related to our country's economy and to some extent, perhaps, to the future existence of our country (I already hinted about this in an interview with the Mir TV company). None of you can say what will happen to the world in the wake of this disease and the related psychosis. We do not know the intentions of the major states, how they will take advantage of this situation. But we know from history that everyone takes advantage of the situation as they see fit and beneficial for themselves,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that “the full-front offensive” cannot bring good in the current conditions, only harm. “It is a matter of one day to lock people up in their apartments, as some in the government suggested. We can call the military, mobilize riot police and there will be no one on the streets within one day.  I guarantee you this. Do you think this is a method of fighting this infection? I don't think so," he said. In his opinion, this will not stop the spread of the virus.

“Look at what is going on in the countries on lock down: nothing has worked out. This is why we have initially chosen the pinpoint tactics of combating the disease (and the WHO has approved it). We immediately sent people to implement screening measures at airports and at the border. We saw that this virus was imported, so we had to control it there,” the President recalled. "We continue this work. We need to stay cool. Everyone should do their work honestly.”

The head of state emphasized that doctors’ first duty is to treat people and, if necessary, calm the public’s nerves by updating the society on their work. “It is not your function to open or close facilities, arrest and so on. We have other people to do it,” he said.

According to the President, he is briefed daily on the situation with the spread of the coronavirus in Belarus and the virus dynamics in other countries. “A lot of work is being done at the government’s level. You do your job,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

He recalled an attempt to quarantine Belarusian National Technical University after one of the students tested positive for COVID-19. Students and teachers took an irresponsible approach to self-isolation, the head of state said. “The result was zero. Thank God that people have not gotten ill. Therefore, everyone must do their jobs. You have a lot to do. Treat people. We will help you do it,” the President said.

As for first- and second-level contacts, the head of state believes they should go into self-isolation rather than stay in hospitals, if they test negative. “If you want, let us toughen the rules for those who you send into self-isolation. We checked once: people were sent home, but there is no strict legislation, and we did not find 400 people at home. We can toughen the self-isolation rules,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

In general, he noted, most citizens are conscious and try to stay away from unnecessary contacts. “We do not forbid anything. A person has the right to do what they want with their lives. But we, as a state, should help them get protected during this period,” the President stressed.

The head of state summed up that everyone should do their jobs. “I stress once again: doctors treat, while all information flows to the headquarters in the President Administration. There you decide how you inform the population. There is no need to hide the information. God forbid, there are any attempts to cheat. Nowadays, it is impossible to cheat anyone in our country. If you cheat once, no one will believe you ever again," Aleksandr Lukashenko said. "Let's all work together and go the way we have outlined. No matter how hard it is for us.”