The meeting was held via videoconference.
Excerpts from the transcript:
At the Monday meeting of the Presidium of the Coordination Council we discussed the developments around the spread of the coronavirus infection. Over the last three days we saw the lowest increase in the number of cases of the coronavirus, and today it was lower than three percent for the first time. Today is also the first day when the number of the recovered is higher than the number of the infected. This is good news. Perhaps we are starting to pass the peak of the load on the healthcare system. This shows that the situation has been stabilising, especially in Moscow, which was the first to face the novel infection.
To date over seven million coronavirus tests have been made in Russia. Almost 200,000 people are having the test every day. So we can see the true picture around the disease and say that we were able to avoid the explosive growth of the infection and the worst scenarios. This is the result of the preventive measures we have been taking over the last months, as well as, of course, the selfless work of medical personnel and everyone who is fighting this dangerous virus.
The stabilisation of the infection rate allows us to lift a part of the burden from the healthcare system. Over 164,000 beds have been made available, including 24,700 in intensive care units. At the same time, only 100,000 regular and less than 3,000 intensive care beds are really being used. This shows that healthcare reserves have been created.
This situation makes it possible for some of the Russian regions to gradually lift the introduced restrictions. As of today, 17 regions have already reached the goal indicators to begin the phased lifting of restrictions, including 14 regions that have already made the necessary decisions and lifted the first-phase restrictions.
However, as we have already mentioned, this must be done carefully in order not to destroy the fragile balance we have worked so hard to achieve. This is why all the specialised services and agencies in the regions must constantly control the situation, avoid deterioration and respond immediately if necessary. And, of course, people still have to observe social distancing and use PPE.
We also continue to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the most exposed industries. Acting upon the President’s instruction, we will adopt additional support measures for them plus for the socially-oriented NGOs. A package of documents has been signed under which the payment of current and overdue rent for state-owned property has been postponed from 1 April to 1 October 2020. Such rental debts can be paid within two years - between 1 January 2021 and 1 January 2023. No additional agreements with superior federal agencies (curators) will be needed. These support measures will be adopted as soon as possible, without any unnecessary delay.
The federal executive agencies are supposed to notify tenants about these decisions and to post the required data on their personal accounts on the interdepartmental state property management portal.
The Government has prepared amendments to the Tax Code and submitted them to the State Duma. The objective is to ease the tax burden on businesses and NGOs.
The companies and sole proprietors who donate equipment for the diagnosing and treatment of the novel coronavirus infection to medical facilities or socially-oriented NGOs for free will be allowed to register the funds spent on this equipment as expenditure. This will reduce their tax base used to calculate income tax. Additionally, they will not have to pay VAT on transactions involving the transfer of property to medical facilities.
Moreover, personal income tax will not be deducted from the incentive payments made to social workers for carrying out their extra duties under special conditions.
It is stipulated that income created by the writing off of debts under easy-term loans issued to small and medium-sized enterprises for relaunching operations and maintaining employment will not added to the tax base.
Sole proprietors, small and medium-sized businesses in the most exposed industries, as well as socially-oriented NGOs who received subsidies and grants will be exempt from taxes and insurance payments for the second quarter of 2020.
The fixed amount of pension insurance contributions for sole proprietors in the most affected industries will be decreased by one subsistence wage this year, to 20,318 roubles.
Let us now begin our discussion. I would like to give the floor to my first deputy at the Coordination Council, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
Sergei Sobyanin: Mr Mishustin, you are the bearer of good news and I’m absolutely delighted to hear it. Moscow has been showing the same trend. However, we can look at these figures in different ways. They can be both positive but at the same time alarming. For example, the number of newly diagnosed coronavirus patients, cases of pneumonia confirmed not only by tests but by broad CT scanning at outpatient centres, and the number of people who have had to be taken to hospital is down to the level of a month ago. The figures we have on 20 May are about the same as on 20 April. This is a certain trend, and it seems to be continuing.
On the other hand, 2,700 new cases were detected by PCR tests only today. Is this a lot or not? We have introduced the tightest restrictions based on these figures. But today, with the same figures, we are easing the lockdown orders, simply because we can see the different dynamics. Yet, these numbers per se are very high. Our colleagues in China have imposed the most severe quarantine in one of the provinces for 100 million people with 40 detected cases. And of course, in this situation we must watch the progress and act carefully.
The number of those having to go to hospital has decreased, but still, about 1,000 people a day are taken there. That’s about 1,000 people a day who have fallen seriously ill.
The healthcare system is slowly becoming less overwhelmed, but at the same time, we have about 1,700 seriously and very seriously ill people in hospital. This is not daily statistics, but the average for the last three weeks. And it is not particularly going down. Why? Because doctors are fighting for every life. This means that seriously ill patients are remaining in hospital, including in intensive care, for two to three weeks. And their accumulating numbers, first, overload the healthcare system. Secondly, this generates a high mortality rate, which is going to be significantly higher in May than in April. It is only natural. I mean, the April-early May wave of infections is converted to the hospitalisation of seriously ill people. This is quite a normal process. We should not forget about this when planning our further steps; we must be aware that we are still at a high stage of the incidence rate, with a large number of seriously ill patients.
In this connection, I would like to say that we have reopened most enterprises in Moscow. Today, city traffic increased by one million people and has reached 4.5 million people daily. These statistics include passengers only, not to mention people visiting shops, chemists’ shops, etc. This accounts for about 50 percent of the city’s entire economically active population. This creates extra risks for spreading the disease.
How do we deal with this? First, we have ordered everyone to wear face masks and gloves in the metro and shops. In the past seven days, we have seen to it that 95-98 percent comply with this regime in the metro. And 93 percent wear face masks and gloves in shops. This is a positive example when people try to protect themselves and everyone else. We need to continue this control and see to it that self-isolation measures are complied with.
Tough control over trade, construction and industrial companies is the second aspect. We have recently fined about 300 trade, industrial and construction companies for failure to comply with the relevant regime. About 15 companies were simply shut down on orders from Rospotrebnadzor. These tough but correct measures made it possible to ensure compliance with our requirements. We need to pay attention to such complicated things in the future. For heaven’s sake, the number of new cases must not go up again. What are we planning to do in the near future? First, integrated government services centres will resume work on Monday and will cater to the population because far from all services are provided online. The number of people who have failed to obtain various services continues to increase each week. We will proceed cautiously and will provide the most essential services only at those integrated government services centres that can function normally in terms of compliance with sanitary requirements.
Second, we plan to discuss with head physicians tomorrow (I have spoken about it with Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko) that it is high time to start planning how to reopen the healthcare system for treating regular patients. This is a critical issue because we have been delaying regular hospitalisation of people for almost two months now. Sooner or later, everyone will be affected, our people, in the first place. Therefore, we will plan a gradual resumption of the healthcare system’s normal work in the near future, all the more so as the number of beds for COVID patients is shrinking almost every single day.
We are planning these projects, and we see such problems in Moscow. I believe that many regions, especially those in the Central Federal District, face just about the same problems.
Mikhail Mishustin: Thank you, Mr Sobyanin. I would like to say that I share the cautious attitude of the heads of Russian regions and our medical authorities towards all these approaches. Doubtless, we should understand the cyclic nature of this disease’s development. In principle, what’s happening at present gives us reason for cautious optimism, while complying with all the measures, the concept drafted by Rospotrebnadzor, methodologies for cautiously resuming economic life stage by stage, including the compulsory use of PPE, face masks and gloves and compliance with the relevant regimes.