Meeting with Head of Belarus President Administration, Chairwoman of Council of Republic, State Secreatry of Security Council, Healthcare Minister

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Coronavirus patients in hospitals should stay positive, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Head of the Belarus President Administration Igor Sergeyenko, Chairwoman of the Council of the Republic Natalya Kochanova, State Secretary of the Security Council Andrei Ravkov and Healthcare Minister Vladimir Karanik on 13 April.

The head of state remarked that he would like to discuss forthcoming events, in particular, political and military ones, at the meeting. “And we have invited the minister to report on the situation in the healthcare industry. I want to emphasize that today, of course, I want to know what is going on with this coronavirus psychosis. I am especially interested in the situation involving other diseases,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “I want to remind you once again that we can seriously hurt and offend hospital patients with other diseases, namely, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, asthma, diabetes, typical pneumonia which is also common in this period. Therefore, I would like to discuss a whole set of issues. And I reiterate that we, especially the Healthcare Ministry, should not forget about these people.”

“For the first time, I want to address (a lot has been said about doctors; we are grateful to those people who are spending days and nights in hospitals, who are treating patients in this difficult period) our people who are lying in hospitals and are suffering from non-respiratory diseases. I want to address all of them. There has been information in recent time that people start to give up because of this psychosis, especially the coronavirus psychosis. They say that some patients have already stopped fighting for their lives. The minister knows what it means when a person stops fighting for their life,” the head of state said.

“People are afraid. Therefore, I want to tell them the following thing: no one died from coronavirus in our country. No one! They died from a bunch of chronic diseases they had been suffering from,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized. “WHO specialists, they saw it. Those diseases were cardiovascular inefficiency, pulmonary failure. And diabetes. And even more complicated diagnoses. And there was coronavirus on top of that.”

“Coronavirus was not even a trigger. It was the environment where their chronic diseases were developing. This is the reason. Therefore, I am saying that no one died from coronavirus in our country. We are fighting for every person, as I have promised. And I am grateful to the Healthcare Ministry and our doctors for that. If we did not fight for every person, there would be more deaths,” the head of state is convinced.

Aleksandr Lukashenko addressed all patients in hospitals, especially those with coronavirus, once again. “They should not even worry. No one will die from coronavirus in our country. I am saying this in public. This is my firm conviction judging by the analysis not only of the previous years. We already have this year’s experience. And, from our experience, from Chinese, American, European experience (of how this disease is running) we see how we should work. Therefore, we will do our best to fight for every person. If a person stays positive, they will be healthy,” the President stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed Head of the Belarus President Administration Igor Sergeyenko to compile a list of enterprises that make protective means or can make them. “I will find time to visit the places I will consider necessary to visit. I will ask them whether they work 24/7 to make face masks,” the President said. “At present masks and the rest – shoe wrappers, goggles, and face shields – cost an arm and a leg. Prices have surged.”

“Various countries have been pestering us with offers to buy things from them… While we are starting to import the things we can make domestically and leave the money in our country at triple the price. I am referring to personal protective equipment: face masks, respirators, and so on,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

At the same time the President encouraged citizens to be smart, including smart about using PPE. “Listen, we’ve gone too far with these masks. I went on a trip around Minsk Oblast yesterday. I was driving the car. People would walk out of the village and go into the fields. I saw a person walking alone with a mask on the face. A strong wind was blowing, the weather is good and dry now,” the head of state recalled. “Take off your mask and breathe some fresh air. If you are in a city where there are crowds of people, put on a mask and walk with it for an hour or two. There is no need to wear a mask when you walk in the field between villages. We’ve forced people to go overboard. What can a mask protect from in a field?”

Coronavirus outpatient treatment and its duration were discussed at a government conference chaired by the President. “We have been talking about self-isolation lately... Frankly, this is not self-isolation. This is actually outpatient treatment. After all, people self-isolate on the instruction of a doctor. I gave an instruction to work out appropriate regulations,” the head of state said.

According to him, earlier doctors hospitalized hundreds of people, including first- and second-level contacts. Now doctors realize that this is not always necessary. This is especially true for long periods of hospitalization. “We see that the person feels normal. The patient has been in hospital for three to five days. The doctor understands (already from experience) that it is not necessary to keep them there but wants to be on the safe side. We give them a document where the doctor proscribes self-isolation for three, five, seven days (in fact, it is an outpatient treatment). Such patients are under control. If needed, the doctor visits them. The police check if such patients remain home during their self-isolation period,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President asked doctors not to send such patients into lengthy self-isolation. “Some doctors quarantine people for up to 14 days. Those people will not stay at home for 14 days. Such patients have almost fully recovered. Send them into self-isolation for the period they need. If it is 14 days, such patients need to remain in hospital. We discharge from hospital only those who are on a track of recovery, those who show no symptoms and can complete their treatment at home,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Catholic Easter was celebrated in Belarus last week. There were not many people, but they visited churches, gathered together outside. “It’s up to every person to decide. But there were no prohibitions. If you want to go to church, you are welcome. But people took precautions. It is their right,” the head of state said.

Orthodox Christians, who account for the majority of believers in Belarus, will celebrate Easter this week. “I will reiterate: we do not close the road to church for anybody. This is a tough requirement of mine. All leaders of churches, religious denominations, including the Eastern Orthodox church, have been informed. People will be free to go to church if they want. I will go to church. This is my tradition. I seldom go to church, but I always do it on Christmas and Easter. I visit small churches in Belarusian regions,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

At the same time, he warned the clergy that people should not spend much time in churches in view of the current situation. “It is better to hold all services outside,” the Belarusian leader said.

He also deemed it necessary to arrange special open-air places for traditional blessing of Easter eggs and breads. “It is necessary to take precautions where possible. And priests must understand this, especially in cities,” the head of state said.

The President also spoke about the coverage of the coronavirus situation in mass media. He criticized Russian mass media for the biased coverage of measures which are taken in Belarus against coronavirus. “I would like to touch upon the issue of mass media once again. Yesterday I watched analytical programs on all TV channels. Quite comprehensive coverage. They are even doing the job of Vladimir Stepanovich [Healthcare Minister Vladimir Karanik]. They explained everything about face masks, surgical boots, treatment. You just need to stay home and take care,” the head of state said. “I am often told that Telegram channels and other things are ahead of us. Probably, they print more dirt than official opinions, opinions of authorities. However, I cannot say that we lack information. So, I asked myself if it makes any sense to self-promote, start launching Telegram channels, spreading half-yellow information just to be present there… Probably, it’s not our path.”

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, there is enough information for those who are looking for professional opinions. “Every day we provide information without concealing anything. Our doctors, specialists, professionals take the floor. Even our pulmonologists do the talking,” he said.

At the same time, the President spoke in negative terms about the coverage of Belarusian events in Russian mass media, not only in anonymous Telegram channels but also in Russian national mass media outlets. “They provide disgusting information, saying that the Belarusian President wants people to treat with a tractor, vodka, sauna… You know, it was a joke. But there is part of a joke in every joke,” the head of state said.

“I would like to tell those Russians who are spreading this crap: don’t touch us! We are not asking anything from them. We are doing our best to protect and save ourselves. Come to Belarus and see it with your own eyes. But why are you making fools of us in Russia? Why do they make Russians think that Belarusians are some crazy people,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

 “You cannot say that these are uncontrollable channels. I was recently shown once again a report by some Kleimenov who said that that the pandemic is raging in Belarus and that we hide information… Our media outlets began to pick up. We invited the World Health Organization. Can others invite specialists into their countries? Russians, Americans (from the world organization)... Can they be as open as we were? Will they [WHO] say that they are satisfied with what they saw like they said with respect to Belarus,” the head of state stressed.

“Indeed, some recommendations have been issued: not to gather in crowds, to self-distance, not to kiss or hug and so on. We accept these recommendations. But what are we doing wrong and where have we lied? They said publicly that neither the Healthcare Ministry nor the authorities lied. We are open. Come and see for yourselves. We are doing it for our people. But the Russians are not strangers to us. We are ready to communicate with them, to consult," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President noted that if Russia really wants to help Belarus in any way, they could reduce the price for natural gas to the level of the world price: “If you want to help us, then reduce the price for natural gas to the level of the world price. Today in Europe, Russia sells natural gas for $80, not higher than $90 per 1,000 cubic meters. Meanwhile, we pay $127. Who else pays such a price today? You want to help, then help us. We do not ask for any money, we don’t ask for anything. Why do you overcharge us?

“But no one will talk about this in Russia. Someone does not really need the truth there. Three guesses who that is. So I repeat: you do not touch us! Once this is over we will see who is right and who is not," the Belarusian leader added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also reminded the head of the Belarus President Administration about the task to prevent any attempts to hype over the coronavirus situation in Belarus. “We need to control our social media and other outlets as well. The State Security Committee, police and the Information Ministry should keep an eye on them. After the visit of international experts, those who hyped over the matter in the internet became fewer. However, we still have them. They need to be shown their place. We need not to be afraid of being accused of a lack of democracy. All this will pass and we will see who was ratcheting up the psychosis,” he said.

The President said that there are mass media and politicians in the world who hype over this topic and warned that such things will not work in Belarus. “We have not done such things. I have always warned you not to do it. Otherwise we will be ashamed to look into people’s eyes. We will adhere to the policy that prioritizes people. We have developed mechanisms to combat these infectious diseases. We have not ruined the system. We have infectious diseases hospitals in regions and in Minsk, research centers. They are well-equipped. This will save us today,” he said.

“Let everyone of us live in peace, mind our own business, raise our children and think about the future. We will do everything possible to keep everyone alive, especially now when we need to prove that we can protect our people and defeat this disease. As I said, let it be a beautiful victory,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President added that the meeting was focused not only on the issues related to diseases, but also on promising topics that need to be addressed. The springtime sowing campaign is gaining momentum in the country. “People work the way they should. Well done. Nevertheless, we should see the prospects of what will happen tomorrow, when all this is over,” the President said.