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13 April 2020, 12:29

Minister: No need for tougher measures if people follow coronavirus rules

MINSK, 13 April (BelTA) - More stringent measures will not be needed if people follow the coronavirus rules, Belarus' Healthcare Minister Vladimir Karanik said in an interview with the ONT TV channel on 12 April, BelTA has learned.

A well-developed sanitary service is involved in the fight against coronavirus in Belarus. There is a reserve of beds. At the same time, according to Vladimir Karanik, following the coronavirus rules is equally important. The need for tougher measures will arise when the healthcare system begins to be overloaded. Today the healthcare system is coping with the flow of patients, even those beds that have been specifically allocated for this purpose are still available.

Ignoring the recommendations of doctors may be the reason for the wider spread of the virus. In this regard, the minister recommended limiting contacts, staying at home if possible, and reducing non-essential movements. “Then we will not have to impose any coercive measures to physically distance people," he said.

According to Vladimir Karanik, there are different ways to minimize the spread of infection. Belarus, following WHO recommendations, monitors and isolates contacts of infected people, in order to break the epidemic chains. “The WHO reiterates that restrictive social distancing measures are important. This fact is not disputed. But the main thing is to conduct an epidemiological investigation, identify and isolate contacts of infected patients in order to interrupt transmission of the virus in the population,” he said.

The minister also mentioned the administrative responsibility for violation of the self-isolation regime. He explained that according to the monitoring, some 15% of those who needed to isolate themselves did not comply with this rule.

“We used to give people the recommendations on self-isolation. Now we have imposed strict requirements, which means that the failure to comply with them will lead to a fine,” Vladimir Karanik warned. He said that this has created an opportunity to monitor first-level contacts at home without a threat of the virus' uncontrolled spread.

The minister attributed the increase in the number of registered cases of COVID-19 in Belarus to wider testing of people: “The number of tests per day has increased, and, hence, more infected people have been identified. He added that in the majority of cases people show mild or no symptoms at all.

As for the COVID-19 spread forecasts, Vladimir Karanik said that the number of patients would continue increasing. As a result, either some immune layer will be formed and the number of patients will decrease, or the virus will eventually lose its virulence and people will not even seek medical help when contracting it due to mild or no symptoms. The peak load on the healthcare system is projected for late April - early May.

The government is considering additional payments to frontline medical workers. The relevant decision is expected in the near future.

Specialized medical care, including in cardiology, gynaecology and oncology, is provided as usual. However, it is recommended to postpone it where possible. In urgent cases, medical care is immediately provided. The volume of emergency medical care, urgent medical interventions has not reduced. “We are constantly analyzing our resources and redistributing them so that the situation with coronavirus does not lead to increased mortality from other diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases. These are the two most common causes of death. These groups of patients are the most vulnerable to the coronavirus,” said Vladimir Karanik.

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