The meeting, held via videoconference, focused on the results of the efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus infection.
Mikhail Mishustin’s opening remarks
Report by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on the city’s experience in combating the coronavirus infection and measures for the gradual lifting of the restrictions
Report by Head of Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova on the current developments in light of the coronavirus infection
Excerpts from the transcript:
Mikhail Mishustin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
The data for the past few days shows that the spread of the novel coronavirus infection in the country is slowing down. However, all of us must continue to comply with the safety recommendations.
At this stage, it is very important to continue to support and to supply PPE to volunteers, social workers and all those who risk catching the disease in the line of duty. Over one billion roubles have been allocated from the Presidential Reserve Fund for this purpose. The money will be used to supply protective gear, as well as to satisfy the applications we received from the Association of Volunteer Centres.
It is crucial to continue the provision of PPE in all the regions, with not only government agencies but also public organisations and businesses involved in the efforts. We have seen good examples of such coordinated actions. The Far East and Arctic Development Fund, acting within the framework of a programme of supporting the regions, has organised the supply of PPE to medical facilities. The programme is financed with extra-budgetary funds of the companies operating in Russia's Far East.
I would like to ask the heads of the Russian regions to focus their attention and assistance on satisfying the demand of social workers and volunteers for PPE. We must help those who are helping the people who need our support.
Let us get down to discussing the topics on our agenda today.
I would first of all like to give the floor to Sergei Sobyanin.
Moscow was the first city in Russia to be attacked by the coronavirus infection; the most dangerous period is now behind us, and the city is gradually lifting the coronavirus restrictions and returning back to normal.
Mr Sobyanin, please tell us about this in more detail.
Sergei Sobyanin: Mr Mishustin, colleagues.
As you have already said, Moscow is gradually lifting the coronavirus restrictions and returning back to normal, but this has only been made possible thanks to the extremely strict restrictions that were in effect for three months, the selfless work of our medical personnel plus the responsible behaviour of Moscow residents, who have not only supported but also largely helped to bring about and even predetermined the positive results that have allowed us to start emerging from this far from easy situation.
It is obvious that it is impossible to completely eradicate the coronavirus infection, the same as any other viral infection, which becomes part of our civilisation for a long time or even forever. What’s the solution then? We can make the epidemiological situation controllable, preventing an explosive growth in the number of cases so that our healthcare system can deal with the problem steadily. This has become possible thanks to the coordinated work of Moscow, the regions and the Government of Russia, and with full and active support from the President.
I would like to remind you about our priorities, which we have advanced and at present continue to implement. They include broad-based and proactive testing, the timely provision of treatment to the people, strict sanitary recommendations for the functioning of our enterprisers and public transport, as well as self-preservation measures taken by the people themselves. All these measures continue to have their effect. What results have we achieved thanks to this?
The number of tests taken in the city has increased 10-fold. The number of PCR-based tests we take every day is ten times higher now than when we just started. In addition to this, we have created a system of EIA- and LFIA-based tests, which detect immunoglobulins M and G. This allows us to see the full picture of what is happening in the city, identifying new cases and the groups that test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
We have manufactured hundreds of thousands of express test kits and, in general, created an embracing system of testing for the coronavirus infection. At the same time, the daily number of new coronavirus cases is now three or four times below the peak figures. This is extremely important. In addition to this, we have created a network of outpatient computer tomography centres in Moscow to identify COVID-19 pneumonia, which can be often diagnosed as ordinary pneumonia and which even PCR-based tests do not always detect. We have created an AI support system, one of the biggest in the world. It can be used to make some 5,000 diagnoses every day. Now then, the number of coronavirus pneumonia cases has decreased by 75 percent over the past four weeks. It is one of the main factors of the epidemiological situation in the city, which shows that it has greatly improved.
The system of hospitals, which we have created together with the Healthcare Ministry plus federal and private clinics, now has some 40,000 beds. It is one of the largest systems in the world. As of today, we are only using 25 percent of these beds, and the number of beds used is decreasing every day. We are taking fewer people to hospital than we are discharging from hospital. Moreover, in accordance with your instructions, some of the federal clinics are returning back to normal working conditions, the same as part of the municipal clinics.
In addition to this, we have created a system of free provision of medicine not only to patients in hospitals but also to outpatients. We supply them with all of the necessary medicine, and it is important that this is the most up-to-date medicine. As soon as the Healthcare Ministry registers a new medication, we sign a contract for its delivery for the coronavirus patients and people with coronavirus symptoms.
A clinical committee has been established and the latest methods of treatment are being used in Moscow.
Nevertheless, as I have already mentioned, despite the obviously positive signs showing that the epidemic is retreating and the situation is controllable in Moscow, it is impossible to eradicate the coronavirus infection once and for all. But based on the current indicators, life can start gradually, in stages, to get back to normal. We have determined that this period will last nearly two months. The beginning of the epidemic was much shorter, and we had to impose harsh restrictions much quicker. Unfortunately, the exit from this situation will be much longer due to the ongoing processes.
On 12 May we took the first major decision and completely resumed industrial and construction operations. Ten days ago, after revising and assessing the situation, we decided it was possible to resume non-food retail trade. We permitted walks within the schedule, thus partly cancelling the self-isolation. Yesterday, on 9 June, we decided to cancel digital passes for walking around, which means that people are fully allowed to go outside, to parks and gardens. This is good and important for people’s health.
Next, stage by stage during this month – on 16 or 23 June, depending on the epidemiologic developments – other sectors will be permitted to open. Nevertheless, we still have restrictions on public events, theatres, cinemas, concert halls and sports. Decisions on these will probably be made in early July.
This means that if the situation allows, in two months we will completely return to normal. At the same time, and I would like to stress this, the strict requirements of Rospotrebnadzor and the sanitary doctors for the operation of all businesses regardless of their area of work: industrial, construction, retail and especially everyday service businesses, must be maintained. Strict requirements for public transport, the metro and buses will remain in force. And, of course, we are kindly asking people to take care of themselves and avoid unnecessary risk. This is important for us to continue the phased relaxing of various restrictions and to return to normal life in the city.
I would like to thank you once again, Mr Mishustin, for your constant support for our decisions and measures, and also for cooperation with federal agencies, the Healthcare Ministry and Rospotrebnadzor as well as other colleagues of ours who support the city nonstop.
Mikhail Mishustin: Thank you, Mr Sobyanin. This is good news.
I would like to give the floor
to Anna Popova. Ms Popova, please report on the latest general developments
around the coronavirus in Russia.
Anna Popova: Mr Mishustin, ladies and gentlemen,
Russia continues to record new cases of the COVID-19 infection with a clear downward trend in daily increments. I would like to point out that, as we said two months ago, we are seeing two different outbreak development processes. One in Moscow (it began earlier), and the other across the Russian Federation. The following figures show the differences in the two scenarios’ initial and further development: on 24 April, 67 percent of new daily cases were recorded in Moscow and the Moscow Region (we look at them as a single region for epidemiological purposes), and 33 percent in the rest of Russia; today, the Moscow Region accounts for 23 percent of new cases, and the rest of regions account for 77 percent. At the same time, I would like to highlight once again, we clearly see a downward trend in daily growth rates across the country.
I would also like to point out that we have met our goal of entering this very difficult situation with the novel coronavirus outbreak slowly and smoothly. If you compare our curve with other countries that faced an equally difficult situation, and even more serious, the Russian Federation did not hit the daily incidence peak before four incubation periods – more than 50 days. Europe was there after two, a maximum of two, incubation periods. This means they saw faster growth, explosive growth, as they say, and their daily incidence rates at the peak were almost two times higher than in Russia. This is clear evidence that we have successfully met that challenge.
As regards the infection’s structure by symptom, we still see large numbers of infected people showing no obvious symptoms. This is evidence of very broad testing. Unlike many other countries, we have from 40 to 45 percent of confirmed coronavirus patients with no symptoms as of the testing day or in the subsequent 14 days, sometimes 50 percent, but on average 40–44 percent on most days. This is just another positive prognostic sign.
At the same time, I would like to highlight the figure I referred to, but did not cite: the average daily growth rate. As of 17 March, the average daily rate was almost 30 percent, as of 21 April, 14 percent, as of 10 May, 7 percent, and as of 10 June, it was 1.7 percent, less than 2 percent. This is another sign that the situation is stabilising.
Mr Sobyanin briefly mentioned the high number of tests in Moscow. But on the whole, we have practically reached the level indicated by the President. Over the past two days, almost 300,000 tests are being performed daily in the Russian Federation, I mean PCR tests. If you are talking about the total number, as many as 13.5 million COVID-19 tests have been performed.
Another important aspect is the development of herd immunity. We have talked about this more than once, and we are waiting for the numbers to increase. In the current situation, monitoring shows that almost 650,000 people have been tested in 46 regions. What are the results? To date, we can see that almost 14 percent of the people tested in the Russian Federation have sufficient COVID-19 antibody titers. This is a good level. In places where we perform systematic screening, we can see that at the next screening – immunity level and post-infectious immunity screening need to be performed at least twice to monitor the increase in antibody titer with an interval of two to three weeks – so, where we do such research, and especially among medical workers in Moscow, we see that the number of people who have these antibodies has doubled. That is, after contracting the virus, herd immunity develops in fairly large numbers. This immunity is built up in the course of at least four incubation periods – 48 days and a little more. The increase in the number of such people indicates the build-up of herd immunity. This work will certainly continue.
One of the first results that we recorded is that immunity is best developed in children. Of the total number of children under 17 examined, the share of those who are immune to the virus is almost 20 percent. In people aged 18-64, their share is 14 percent, and 65 and older, only 11 percent (meaning people who have been exposed to the virus). This must be kept in mind. We need to protect senior citizens, continue to do so. And of course, in any case, protect everyone’s health.
Many methodological recommendations are being used today. In cooperation with the business community and various professional communities, Rospotrebnadzor has prepared 35 methodological recommendations on organising work in various economic, sports and arts segments for a safe return to normal life.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said, with good reason, that the virus will always be with us from now on. This is true. Discontinuing the tough restrictions and having learned the lessons of the pandemic, we must get used to living with this virus in a new reality without downgrading the quality of our life.
Using our recommendations, 41 regions in the Russian Federation have already moved to the first stage of lifting the restrictions; another ten are prepared to do this, while another six regions are already in the second stage.
But the gradual relaxing of restrictions does not mean that we can forget about the requirements of sanitary, hygienic and epidemiological health safety. We must still comply with all the recommendations on work organisation. Naturally, each of us must observe the measures of personal hygiene, which have been clearly defined. The continued statistics on infected people in Russia and the rest of the world show that the rules for wearing masks, washing hands and disinfecting all surfaces must be maintained and strictly followed. Today, it is possible for many regions to carefully and gradually, keeping the results in mind… I would like to emphasise that, even after reaching certain figures, no region can go from one stage to another in a week. At least 14 days are needed for the incubation time to elapse to see if there are any perturbations in the epidemic process. Only in this case – and the regions are well aware of this – is it possible to go from one stage to the next.
So, we are lifting the restrictions but the rules of a safe life with the coronavirus remain valid and must be observed.