COVID-19 cases rise in Georgia, as some health care workers resist vaccinations
Georgia Tightens Restrictions Against COVID-19
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Georgia is tightening restrictions to contain the coronavirus infection COVID-19. As Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said at a special briefing on November 26, from November 28 to January 3, non-food shops, municipal transport, fitness rooms and swimming pools will be suspended in eight major cities of Georgia..
The study will continue remotely, restaurants will operate only for take-out, and eighty percent of civil servants will be transferred to work from home. From November 28 inclusive to January 31, intercity passenger transportation is prohibited. At the same time, restrictions do not apply to movement by cars and taxis, as well as the work of food markets and beauty salons..
As the country’s chief epidemiologist, head of the Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health explained to reporters Amiran Gamkrelidze, the reason is that, given previous experience, in the event of the closure of beauty salons, «this business will become shady, that is, salon employees will go to their homes and, possibly, there will be an even greater risk of proliferation».
Beginning January 28, curfew will be in effect for two months nationwide from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am, excluding New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve. – January 6.
From December 24 to January 3, all restrictions are canceled, except for the curfew, and the period from January 3 to January 16 is declared non-working, while at this time all restrictions that were in force from November 28 to December 24 will be restored.
Despite the long weekend, the residents of Georgia will hardly be able to go to the winter resorts, since the operation of cable cars and hotels will be suspended at the ski resorts.
From January 16 to February 1, there will be no restrictions on weekdays, but they will be valid on Saturdays and Sundays.
At the same time, within four months, the Georgian government will pay utility bills to all citizens of the country, if this does not exceed a certain amount. Also, as Prime Minister Gakharia said, businesses, socially vulnerable and large families will be provided benefits.
Gakharia said the epidemiological situation in the country, where there were only 1,500 infected in early September, has deteriorated sharply due to the electoral process. In particular, according to the prime minister, during the election campaign and rallies, that is, with a large crowd of people, the participants in the processes often ignored the rules of epidemiological safety, that is, wearing masks and observing social distance. At the same time, the prime minister believes that the elections could not be postponed, as it was the demand of the voters, whose turnout on October 31 was 56.11%, that is, 1,970,540 people voted. This is 4.48% more compared to the 2016 parliamentary elections.
Coronavirus infection in Georgia
Georgia, which reported its first case of COVID-19 on February 26, was one of the first countries to take strict preventive measures. A few days after the diagnosis of the first case, land borders were closed, and flights to countries with high rates of COVID-19 were suspended. When the number of infected people reached 54 on March 21, a state of emergency was declared in Georgia, which was in effect until May 23, as well as a curfew. In June, there was virtually no internal transmission of COVID-19 in Georgia, cases of infection began to increase since the beginning of August, however, in recent months, the daily increase in infected people has increased significantly, and in recent weeks has amounted to about four thousand people..
According to The New York Times, last week Georgia ranked first in the world in terms of the number of new cases of coronavirus per 100 thousand population. According to the same source, Georgia ranks 13th in the world in terms of mortality per 100 thousand inhabitants..
As of November 26, 118,690 people were infected with coronavirus in the territory controlled by the Georgian authorities, with active cases — 18,785, of which have already recovered — 98,781 and 1,124 died.
Waiting for the vaccine
Georgia hopes to be one of the first countries in the region to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Moreover, according to the country’s chief epidemiologist, the vaccine, which the government will deliver, will be free. According to Gamkrelidze, at the first stage Georgia will be able to purchase vaccines to inoculate 20% of the population. The country has already made the first contribution under the international mechanism «Kovax» (COVAX) — COVID-19 Vaccine Affordability Initiative of 170+ Countries.
It is not yet known what kind of vaccine is in question, although, as Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani told the media after a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on November 18, the parties discussed the situation with the coronavirus in the world, including the possibility of Georgia receiving an American vaccine..
At the same time, the chief epidemiologist of Georgia says that everything depends on which of the candidate vaccines is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the World Health Organization..
«What vaccine this platform (COVAX) will purchase, we do not yet know. The decision will be made depending on whether the vaccine is approved: German, British or American», — Gamkrelidze told the media.
At the same time, the epidemiologist confirmed that Georgia is also negotiating with those vaccine manufacturers whose developments are currently not funded by the COVAX mechanism..
According to Georgian media, weekend lockdown and curfew will be in effect until the country receives the first batch of vaccine..