Georgia to keep COVID containment restrictions until February
Georgia governor gives COVID-19 update as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches
During the month of lockdown, the daily rate of coronavirus infection in the country fell significantly
Georgia is not considering easing restrictions to contain the new coronavirus infection COVID-19 until February 1. This was announced on December 29 by Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia.
«Doing so early will threaten our very fragile gains.», – said the Georgian prime minister at a briefing after the meeting of the Interdepartmental Coordination Council.
Since November 28, strict restrictions have been in effect in Georgia to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in particular, the movement of public and intercity transport has been stopped, clothing stores have been closed and from 9 pm to 5 am a country-wide curfew is in effect. Also, wearing protective masks has become mandatory not only in enclosed spaces, but also on the streets. According to official data, at this stage, the percentage of wearing masks among the population has risen from 45% to 70%.
As a result, over a month, the daily increase in infected with coronavirus has significantly decreased. If in November it was about 5,000 infected, then at the end of December the daily figure dropped to 2,000.
In general, as of December 29, 224,155 people were infected with coronavirus in the territory controlled by the Georgian authorities, of whom have already recovered — 208,951 and 2,443 have died. In this case, active cases — 12,761.
The authorities urge citizens to be tested in order to further isolate and prevent the spread of infection. Currently, Georgia can conduct more than 20,000 tests daily, and for those employed in certain areas, including taxi drivers, coronavirus tests are free..
Holidays during a pandemic
The Georgian authorities have decided to partially ease the lockdown on New Year’s Eve. In particular, it was decided to open retail facilities from December 24 to January 3 and cancel the curfew on New Year’s Eve. – December 31 and Orthodox Christmas Eve – January 6.
At the same time, as Paata Imnadze, deputy head of the National Center for Disease Control, known as «Lugar Center», doctors are most afraid of the consequences of traditional feasts, which are likely to take place despite the warnings of epidemiologists.
«The restrictions did their job. Everyone saw what the incidence was at the end of November, at the beginning of December and what it is today. Most of all, our clinicians felt this, who had a little respite these days. However, this is all unstable. I don’t think trading will greatly increase the number of new cases… The New Year scares me most of all, when many of our fellow citizens will try to meet it the way they used to, go to visit loved ones, and so on. Accordingly, from 10 to 20 January, an increase in infection cases is likely.», – said at a briefing by Imnadze.
Epidemiologists say that most likely, vaccination in Georgia will begin earlier than planned, possibly already in February, and that at the first stage, vaccinations will be done by a quarter of the country’s population..
According to official information, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adano Ghebreyesus, in a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, said that WHO will help Georgia get a vaccine against coronavirus as early as possible..
The country expects to receive vaccines through an international mechanism «Kovax» (COVAX) — a COVID-19 vaccine accessibility initiative reaching over 170 countries, and additionally through other channels. The authorities say that with the help of Georgian diplomatic missions, negotiations are underway with producing countries, including the United States and China, and that several vaccines will be used in Georgia.
It is noteworthy that, as the head of the Georgian Foreign Ministry David Zalkaliani previously told the media, in November, during talks in Tbilisi with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the parties discussed the possibility of Georgia receiving an American vaccine..
As for the Russian vaccine, Georgian epidemiologists say they will consider purchasing it if it is recognized by the World Health Organization..
Coronavirus in the occupied territories
In recent months, according to official data, under conditions of limited testing, the epidemiological situation has worsened in the Georgian territories occupied by Russia. According to the information of the Georgian Ministry of Health, since the beginning of the pandemic, a certain part of patients with coronavirus living in the separatist Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region have come for treatment in clinics located in the territory controlled by the central authorities..
Also, according to official documents, during this period the Georgian authorities transferred Sukhumi and Tskhinvali «more than 120 thousand units of personal protective equipment, 12 artificial lung ventilation devices, four oxygen concentrators, a supply of tests and medicines».
«We are ready for further cooperation, since the health and life of all our citizens are important to us.», – said on December 28, the head of the Georgian Ministry of Health Ekaterina Tikaradze.
In the Tskhinvali region, where, according to official data, about 53,000 people live, 2,280 cases of COVID-19 infection have been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, of which 1,515 people have already recovered, 56 have died.
At the same time, in Abkhazia, where, according to official data, about 243,000 people live, to date, 8,563 cases of the disease have been recorded, of which 6,746 people recovered and 111 died..