Coronavirus surges in Georgia – what does the government plan to do?
On September 24, a new ‘record’ was set – 259 new cases. One patient died.
Over the past 24 hours, 259 cases were reported, increasing the total to 4399. Currently, the number of people infected is four times the number of those who have recovered. Seven patients infected with the coronavirus died on September 20-24.
Society has more and more questions about the management of the process. What is the situation in hospitals, are there enough tests and how trained are the medical staff?
Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia says that at this stage, the country’s health system is coping with the situation, but that citizens must follow the rules themselves. The government has no plans to re-quarantine or put the economy onpause.
As of September 23, 35 clinics across the country have allocated 2,522 beds for coronavirus patients, of which 1,342 are already occupied.
In case of complications of the epidemiological situation, an additional 700 places will be allocated.
As for Adjara, as of the morning of September 23, only 102 beds were available in the region to receive patients with coronavirus.
According to the Ministry of Health, there are 584 beds in only 9 clinics in Adjara.
Throughout Georgia, 82 places have been allocated in intensive care units with artificial ventilation devices for patients with severe COVID-19 complicated, the Georgian Ministry of Health told RFE/RL.
The condition of 18 patients is being critically evaluated.
According to Amiran Gamkrelidze, head of the National Center for Disease Control, about 200 people in Georgia are being treated for coronavirus at home. According to him, their condition is mild or asymptomatic.
Some 690 infected people are recovering in hotels. They also have mild or asymptomatic disease.
The elderly and children are not accommodated in hotels.
What’s going on in Adjara?
The Autonomous Republic of Adjara is a “red zone”. Almost half of the new cases per day occur in Adjara. Among the infected are police officers, courts and garment factory workers.
Restrictions have already been introduced here; the movement of public transport in Adjara has been completely suspended.
Restaurant opening hours have been reduced – from September 25 they will close at 22:00.
What is the government’s covid strategy – will there be a general quarantine again?
Not at the moment – PM Gakharia says the introduction of a general quarantine and state of emergency is not planned. He also says that at this stage, the healthcare system is ready, but the prime minister emphasised that citizens need to be responsible as well.
“When we decided to declare a state of emergency and impose severe restrictions, of course, we took into account both the country’s resources and the state of the healthcare system. As you know, Georgia’s health care system is weak compared to many advanced systems, but in this case it coped well with the challenges.
“We must have no illusion that the healthcare system has changed radically in six months, and we must be prepared to prevent the spread of the virus with strict rules, discipline, but not restrictions and stopping the economy.”
Gakharia does not exclude the introduction of additional restrictions in the future, but they will be local.
“These will not be systemic restrictions in such areas of our life as economy, education or even the electoral process,” he said.
Gakharia says the healthcare system is fully prepared to treat the increased number of infected people, and that the government’s strategy is to adapt to risk management, including with the leverage of fever centers, the 112 emergency system, a system for quickly establishing contacts of cases, a quarantine system and testing. Gakharia claims that at this stage all these links are working normally.
The prime minister noted that the country has entered a stage of ‘adaptation’ to the virus.
And the first and most important thing is to slow down its spread – to quickly identify cases of infection, that is, total testing.
In March, only one Lugar laboratory conducted PCR tests in Georgia. Today the number of such laboratories has increased to 22.
The second direction of this strategy is that citizens must learn to coexist with the virus.
According to Gakharia, living with the virus means following simple rules: wearing masks, keeping distance and maintaining good hygiene.
“The more discipline we have in meeting these requirements, the less the spread of the virus and the less pressure on the economy and healthcare system will be. At this stage, we must be as disciplined as possible in order to gain time before a vaccine is created,” Gakharia said.
When will school start?
From October 1, in the cities of Tbilisi, Rustavi, Kutaisi and Zugdidi, pupils from the first to the sixth grade will be able to return to classes.
However, as Minister of Education Mikhail Chkhenkeli said, parents will have a choice – they will be able to choose a distance learning method for children as well.
The same rule applies to schools in the cities of Gori and Poti, where studies are resuming in all 12 grades. The increase in the number of infected in Georgia is alarming.