On measures to contain the coronavirus infection.
Opening remarks by Mikhail Mishustin:
Good morning, colleagues,
We will start with the most important item on the agenda, the coronavirus outbreak. The situation remains challenging. The number of cases worldwide has reached 376,000. In the last two days, the figure has increased by 50,000.
In Russia, the numbers are not increasing as sharply as in other, especially European, countries. Now we have 71 confirmed cases over the last day, while 17 people have recovered. We have a total of 438 cases.
We have established a Communication Centre at the Government Coordination Council to Control the Incidence of Coronavirus Infection in Russia, to be able to monitor information that comes from ministries and agencies, and from the Russian regions, online in real time, and take quick proactive measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
All these measures, including enforced restrictions and social distancing that people and institutions are now compelled to resort to, have enabled us to win some time, which is a very important factor. And the main thing is that doctors are now better prepared for a potential rapid spread of infection.
I instructed Roszdravnadzor to team up with regional authorities to report to the Government every day, starting from tomorrow (24 March), providing up-to-date information on how well prepared regional medical institutions are to help coronavirus patients. I also requested to be provided with figures, by 27 March, on how many isolation wards they have deployed around the country in each region and medical institution, and how many doctors are available to attend to patients, and what equipment is installed there. The summary of nationwide information will be constantly monitored with updates every three days.
Furthermore, the Healthcare Ministry has developed algorithms and guidelines for every doctor to know exactly how to act, what measures to take to prevent and diagnose the coronavirus, and what medical manoeuvres are required to help someone badly ill with COVID-19. Also, distance educational modules for training doctors have been developed to help them learn quickly how to treat the novel infection. It is equally important that health workers themselves comply with all epidemiological safety precautions. No medical professional should become a source of infection. It is necessary to provide them with appropriate protective equipment for work. Helping others, they are now the most at risk.
We will provide incentives to Russian manufacturers of goods that are required for the prevention and control of the coronavirus. We have allocated more than 23 billion roubles in just the past two days to support the medical and pharmaceutical industries. First of all, the funds will go to public procurement of necessary equipment such as thermal imagers, non-contact thermometers and air disinfection units, which are needed for disease prevention, and other equipment. This also includes those medical products and equipment that are now in high demand. We will also support enterprises so that they can increase the production and output of such products. We will direct subsidies for this and for providing enterprises with working capital through the Industry Development Fund, and both existing enterprises and new investment projects in this area will be able to receive them.
Colleagues, it is now important for us to protect not only the health of our citizens, but also their social and labour rights. We need to give people the opportunity to use public services, payments and other social support measures remotely, without personal visits, including giving those who have been left without work the opportunity to apply for and receive benefits remotely. To limit the spread of the disease as much as possible, we have introduced additional anti-epidemic control for transport workers – car and bus drivers, pilots, sailors and railway workers who arrive in the Russian Federation from abroad.
I believe that by and large, we have the coronavirus situation under control. But we need to prepare for more serious challenges. Therefore it is necessary to conduct regional emergency prevention and disaster relief exercises and to focus on inter-departmental cooperation. By the way, this is a good opportunity to assess the preparedness of all services, departments and regions for rapid response.
We are continuing our efforts to cushion the negative impact of the coronavirus on the Russian economy, and we are implementing a plan of high-priority measures. The plan mostly aims to help people and businesses to adapt to this difficult situation. A complex of additional measures allowing us to cope with this serious threat is to be drafted within the next few days. This will involve new measures to support small and medium-sized businesses, and the construction sector as well as additional import substitution measures.
We also need to team up with the Bank of Russia and draft proposals for the additional regulation of financial markets. Each new measure should be well-thought-out. We have to understand clearly where the funding for these measures will come from; and, of course, we cannot make empty promises to our people. Consequently, we need to calculate budget parameters very carefully and stipulate high-priority expenditure.
Additional support for the regions is one of our obvious priorities. We suggest deferring payments and restructuring regional debts for budget loans obtained in 2020. I have issued this instruction to the Ministry of Finance. But federal budget subsidies need to be targeted in order to make them as effective as possible. Therefore, I have instructed the leaders of Russian regions to select the companies and organisations which have key significance for the development of their territories. Of course, we need to involve commercial companies and coordinate our efforts in jointly combatting the coronavirus and its consequences.
Colleagues, people now have to stay at home and in effect communicate only via the internet because of the coronavirus. Many use various online resources for working and studying remotely. To help them in this situation, we will provide free access to useful digital services. We have reached an agreement on this with Russian internet providers which, together with the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, is dealing with this matter. Information about these services will be posted on the всё.онлайн resource (vseonline.online), due to start operating from 23 March. Information is already available on services for organising remote work, obtaining medical treatment, and ordering food or ready-made dishes. Details are also provided on entertainment services for children and adults, and educational and professional development websites. The resource, which already has more than 60 services, will continue to expand daily.
The catalogue of these services has already been published on the government services portal and it will be published later on other government websites and the websites of Russian internet providers.
One of these popular resources is the Культура.РФ portal. It allows millions of users to continue learning about the most interesting events to do with our cultural life: to visit museums, study, attend lectures and concerts while staying at home. Free access is provided to over 2,500 films and theatre plays and over 1,500 concerts. And, of course, there are lectures, e-books, virtual tours of over 300 museums, and many other things, too. There is also material if people want to study from home.
Many famous musicians, such as Denis Matsuyev, are joining the initiative. Matsuyev’s concert was broadcast live by the Russian and foreign media. The online audience in Russia reached 1.5 million people, which is a thousand times more than would attend an event at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall where Matsuyev used to perform.
We plan on having more such large-scale cultural events and to broadcast them online all over the world. I reiterate, the important thing is that they don’t cost anything.
We also received instructions from Tatyana Golikova, head of the coronavirus response centre, and passed them on to the regional executive bodies on 20 March. We asked them to establish the number of people living in the Russian regions aged 45 and older, 65 and older and 80, and find out whether they have chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. They will use this data to monitor these people and develop coordination algorithms with medical organisations in order to provide medical assistance in case a difficult situation arises.
I am speaking about this, colleagues, because the coronavirus situation in the world shows that elderly people are in the risk group. These are our parents, grandparents and elderly neighbours. Those who have chronic diseases or whose immune system is frail. They are in danger now in the first place. And every one of us should take care of them and help them, explain the safety rules in this difficult period. Sometimes we need to counteract their careless attitude to their health, which is not rare, unfortunately. It is extremely important that they take precautions: their lives depend on them.
I am addressing our senior citizens. Please, take this information seriously. To protect yourselves from the disease, you should stay at home. Do not go outside unless it is absolutely necessary. Do not visit public places, cancel any meetings and don’t take strolls. All this is in the interests of your own health. If you are in need of medicine or food, you should request assistance from your families, neighbours or acquaintances or from the social services and volunteers. People will be willing to help you.
To get the answers to any practical questions you may have, call the hotline of the official website Стопкоронавирус.рф. The telephone number is 8-800-2000-112.
Current information is also available on the websites of Rospotrebnadzor and the Healthcare Ministry.
We have launched a special site, Мывместе2020.рф, for those who want to help others by becoming a volunteer. All the necessary information on how to join this extremely important project is available there.
I would like to address the young, active and mobile people: Please, help our senior citizens. Many of them do not have a family, and they will be unable to handle the situation without your support.
At the same time, social distancing must be observed. No matter how much you are tempted to drop by and see your parents and grandparents, try to avoid any direct contact with them. It is better and safer to write or call them than to visit them. But you can take over some of their everyday chores, bringing them food and medicine. You can also help them pay their utility bills. If necessary, you can call medics or social services for help.
The Moscow Mayor will deliver an address to these people in connection with the coronavirus. We hope that the regional governors will do this as well.
It is not immediately obvious that you have contracted the disease. You may not know that you are carrying this virus, which can be deadly for weak and elderly people. Do not put their lives at risk. As I have said, the best way to show your love for your elderly relatives is to socially distance yourself as much as possible. At the same time, try to speak with them by phone or via the internet as often as possible. Giving them as much attention as you can will help them get through this difficult period of time.
I am counting on your consciousness and responsible attitude, as well as on your love for your near and dear ones.