Vladimir Putin held a meeting on measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus on the territory of the Russian Federation. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko and Head of Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare) Anna Popova submitted relevant reports to the President.
In late December 2019, the Chinese authorities reported an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown origin in the city of Wuhan. Experts tentatively established that a new type of coronavirus – 2019-nCoV – was the pathogen of the disease.
According to the latest data, 5,974 people in China have been infected with the new type of coronavirus, including 132 people who died. Cases of infection have been reported in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Nepal, Malaysia, Australia, the United States, Canada, France and Germany.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
We are all aware of the frenzy surrounding the coronavirus that was reported in the People’s Republic of China. Unfortunately, you know, there have already been fatalities.
The Russian Government has prepared a number of measures to prevent the virus from spreading in the country. I would like to hear your perspective on this subject, what measures are being taken, and what the Government intends to do in the near future.
Go ahead, please.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova: Mr President,
Let me begin by saying that as early as in late December the Government of the Russian Federation, alerted by the People’s Republic of China, took a number of meaningful steps to prevent this new virus from spreading on the territory of the Russian Federation.
We set up epidemic controls, and took additional measures to step up sanitary and quarantine checkpoints at the national border. Moreover, we devised algorithms for medical staff in case of possible infections with the new coronavirus, and ensured effective oversight of medical institutions dealing with people who got infected or receiving patients from regions in the People’s Republic of China that were exposed to the virus.
In addition to this, we worked out modalities for ensuring that people suspected of having the coronavirus are immediately isolated and placed under medical observation, and I would like to emphasise that this will be done immediately. We established algorithms for carrying out laboratory tests to identify the new coronavirus. I will highlight a number of other measures later during my remarks. We are training extra medical personnel, in case we need to undertake proactive response measures in all regions of the Russian Federation.
As early as on January 24, at the Government’s initiative, Chief State Sanitary Physician Anna Popova issued a resolution setting out a list of initiatives designed to prevent the new virus from spreading across the territory of the Russian Federation. Since we launched these efforts in late December, already during the first days of January the Novosibirsk-based state research centre Vektor, which is a world-class genetic research facility, developed two test systems based on data provided by the People’s Republic of China to the World Health Organisation.
Vektor is currently producing these test systems, and as production volumes increase we are constantly expanding our capacities in order to be able to make them available across the country for identifying the coronavirus.
Reinforced two-stage controls were introduced at the national border for screening people arriving from regions that were exposed. All people presenting any symptoms of acute respiratory diseases are taken to hospital. I would like to thank our citizens arriving from the People’s Republic of China for their responsible attitude when subjected to screening procedures. They stay perfectly calm when facing possible delays due to screenings.
As we have been reporting to the media on a daily basis, since the start of the monitoring efforts, we identified 139 people who were sick, but there was not a single coronavirus case. We have to understand however that although there have been no coronavirus cases so far, it is still possible that the infection has penetrated Russian territory, since 15 countries have already reported coronavirus cases, considering the number of people who travelled from Wuhan before the city and the province were placed under lockdown.
Nevertheless, as I have already mentioned, we are taking all necessary precautions, and are beginning to work on a vaccine against this coronavirus. Vektor in Novosibirsk is working on this.
In addition, we are working in close contact with the WHO and the People’s Republic of China, and overall have been steadfast in view of the recommendations we receive from our colleagues.
I would also like Ms Popova to take the floor.
Head of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare Anna Popova: Thank you very much.
Ms Golikova has already said a few words about the test system. It was put in place fairly quickly. It will allow us to identify patients who are infected with this virus.
We created this system five days after the results were published and now we take 25,000 samples per week for testing at Vektor. We will double this number in ten days and increase it fourfold in another week. This is enough for the needs of the Russian Federation.
We are coordinating our activities and measures to protect the country from the new coronavirus with our colleagues from the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union considering our common space. This recent undertaking that we carried out together, which was also joined by our colleagues from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, showed that these countries also need this test system.
It is really new and very effective. With your instruction and permission, we can share it with our colleagues in other countries so they can benefit from this protection as well.
I would like to say a few words about our work at the border. We are conducting very tight control and are screening over 20,000 different flights. We have monitored over a million people since December 31, 2019. This is a lot of work, but I must say that it is being done well.
I would like to mention again the appropriate response of Russian citizens to these measures. This certainly delays them for at least several minutes and sometimes up to half an hour. And today’s screenings that we have launched show people’s high activity and a civic position.
We are closely following the incidence of influenza and pneumonia in the Russian Federation because flu season is coming. To be able to distinguish one from the other we are working harder than usual. We know about all cases of flu and pneumonia in the Russian Federation and are recording them very attentively.
I would like to note that following on from the resolution of the Chief State Sanitary Doctor, action plans, internal mobilisation, response and public awareness plans have been adopted in practically all Russian regions. I am referring to Moscow, Kaliningrad, Kursk, Tver, and Smolensk, to name a few. We are continuing our efforts in order to protect the population of the Russian Federation.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
We understand well that regrettably, every year all countries, including ours, lose people because of both the flu and pneumonia. So we have a common goal – to minimise these losses and do all we can to eliminate them.
As for the new coronavirus, the main point is that it is new. The question is whether we are ready for this challenge. I believe the Government, Healthcare Ministry and Rospotrebnadzor will do all they can to put an end to any surprises for the overwhelming majority of our people. All of us must be ready for this.
Tatyana Golikova: We will certainly do this, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Good.