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Opinions & Interviews

23 Apr 2020

Lukashenko: Belarus will not disregard WHO recommendations, but will act accordingly

Lukashenko: Belarus will not disregard WHO recommendations, but will act accordingly

MINSK, 23 April (BelTA) - Belarus will not disregard the recommendations of the World Health Organization, but will act accordingly, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a government conference to discuss the priority measures to ensure the sustainable operation of the economy and the social sector amid the global epidemiological situation, BelTA has learned.

“The director general of the World Health Organization sent me a letter yesterday thanking our country for the actions we are taking to combat the disease. The measures recommended by the WHO should be studied in detail,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “But what if they, let’s say, recommend us to impose some measures up to the curfew? I emphasize once again: if such a need arises we will impose the curfew, isolate cities, towns and villages. But is the country facing such a problem today? No. Therefore, we will not shrug off the the recommendations, but we must act accordingly, based on a set of recommendations, our experience. There is no room for hit-or-miss or just-in-case strategies. It will not get worse, but if we keep healthy people in the hospital just in case, we will not run out of hospital beds,” the Belarusian leader said.

The president added that Belarus has significantly increased the capacity of healthcare institutions, the capacity to produce domestic drugs and medical products. He stressed that now it is important not to overstretch the healthcare system. So far, according to him, Belarus is coping with this. “We are monitoring the incidence of COVID-19. But we pay attention, first of all, to the incidence of pneumonia, because any pneumonia can be aggravated by COVID-19, as is often the case. This is why the Healthcare Ministry, the whole healthcare system, thousands of healthcare workers need to focus on treating patients for pneumonia. At the same time we should not forget that there are other diseases," the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that the country will cope with the coronavirus problem. This problem, the head of state believes, is becoming more political. “We will not have supporters, even sympathizers because we are going against the tide. We are acting in accordance with the situation, our healthcare system capabilities. We will be facing more of these viral diseases in this small, ugly world. We need to reinforce the healthcare system. This is one of the lessons. But we will talk about it after,” the president said.

The head of state also demanded to prevent overreach and panic in the society while fighting against the spread of infection: "We have people scared. They now think that it [coronavirus] is such an infection that you should run away from those who have recovered from it. Those who have recovered are our "golden pool". These people donate their blood so that we could make plasma and treat people. The people who have recovered should be proud that they stood up rather than being afraid of people saying something about them".

The healthcare industry employs almost 310,000 people, the total bed capacity is about 100,000. Laboratories work around the clock. Depending on the region the stocks of test kits are enough to last for 25 days. Moreover, they are now produced in the country and they are of good quality, the president noted.

"If the situation changes for the worse (I do not rule anything out, I am looking with caution at any slightest development), we will use the reserves. We have enough of them," Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. “The whole vertical of power, all civil servants, never mind the healthcare system itself, should be involved in the effort to combat the disease. This is why, apart from members of the government and regional governors, I have invited regional commissioners and presidential aides for the meeting. I would like us to have a full picture of the situation in the regions so that we could produce the adequate response and help the healthcare system,” the president said.

Summing up, the head of state once again noted that thanks to the mobilization of all agencies the country will cope with the spread of the infection and its consequences, but each of the agencies must do their own thing: doctors should treat people, governors - solve related problems, the government - work on economic development. The president expects responsible attitude, iron-clad discipline, diligence and dedication from everyone. "We have to work harder at this difficult time," he urged.

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