President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon,
As you know, yesterday a list of instructions on the measures I mentioned in my Address to the Nation on March 25 was published. Some of them directly concern spheres under the responsibility of regional authorities. I am asking you as Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoys to ensure their implementation locally.
This fully applies to the decisions of the Government Coordination Council and the State Council working group to counter the spread of the coronavirus.
Let me note that effective cooperation between the local, regional and federal bodies and their joint work in the same tune and around the clock play a pivotal role.
There must be no complacency, but calm, confident and reliable work promoting Russians’ trust, including regular and objective updates about developments and measures taken. This is the best response to any provocations, stupid rumours and malicious assumptions.
I am addressing you as well as representatives of all government levels: our actions must be reasoned and professional. This is the approach that allowed us to gain time and restrain the explosive spread of the coronavirus over the course of the past weeks. We must use this time fully and effectively.
In this regard, I instruct you to establish monitoring in all vital areas. I will begin with the most important one: providing medical assistance to people who have contracted or may contract the disease. We are now doing our best to prevent large numbers of people from contracting the virus. But all regions must prepare for all possible scenarios based on the experience of other countries. We need to take every measure that is necessary in this situation. Even if some uninformed people consider them excessive. One cannot be too careful.
So, the first thing. I am addressing both you and regional heads: in the next few days it is necessary to complete a full inspection of the condition and readiness of medical facilities. This concerns the system of the Healthcare Ministry and the Federal Medical-Biological Agency, as well as state and private clinics and hospitals. All information must be compiled in an integrated database.
Also, you are personally responsible for making a detailed assessment of the actual readiness of bed capacity, and using all opportunities to increase the number of beds, if necessary. It is obvious that some hospitals will have to be temporarily turned into dedicated coronavirus treatment facilities. We need to provide these hospitals with all the necessary equipment and medical staff in accordance with the Healthcare Ministry standards.
Different regions have different numbers of beds. So it is already necessary to consider interregional cooperation plans, including the possibility of accepting patients from other regions, as well as allowing medical units and ambulance crews to visit areas beyond their region. I instruct the Government in such cases to compensate regional budgets from the federal centre.
Second, it is necessary to quickly load all the lab capacities and establish additional diagnostics centres both at state and private medical institutions. We must do it to increase the number of coronavirus tests in the next few days.
Also assess the capabilities of the specialised institutions in order for them to take part in the production of effective test systems. A whole number of such systems have already been created in Russia. I ask you to provide for the quick registration of new test systems. Please don’t delay it. Use both Russian and foreign examples where needed. Now we must use all the opportunities, and we have them. We continue working with our foreign partners.
Third, ventilators are in high demand to treat serious coronavirus-related complications. I am also asking you to count the inventory here. We must get the full picture of how many ventilators we have and their real readiness to be used, including spare parts and expendable materials.
We must replenish our reserve of ventilators. And, of course, we will also need people who know how to work with such equipment and have the necessary training. I am asking you to support the organisational side of additional training for doctors on how to use such equipment. I can see that in most cases our medical personnel show amazing self-sacrifice, professionalism and discipline. We must support them. There must be no deficit in human resources regardless of how the situation develops.
In general it is obvious that the burden on specialists, such as pulmonologists, resuscitators, therapists and paramedics, will increase significantly. This is why you and your colleagues must think right now about measures to involve doctors specialising in other areas as well as medical residents, professors and teachers at medical universities, if necessary. It is also important to ensure the necessary number of mid-level healthcare personnel, including with the involvement of students from medical institutions and interns.
In your turn, you must constantly monitor that all payments related to the special working schedule of doctors, nurses, other medical personnel and paramedics are made strictly on time. All the necessary resources have been allocated.
Fourth, the most important issue: the supply of medications. There must be an additional reserve of all the medications used now to treat the coronavirus and its complications.
Fifth, special focus should be on the elderly who are in the risk group today. Explanatory work is very important here. Everyone – people over 65 and their families – should know that people in this age group must stay home now. They must be told: if you want to stay healthy and alive, you must stay home. We care about you. Please care about yourselves too.
Of course, it is also important to provide support and medical aid, and monitor their health, as well as to deliver them food, medicine and other necessities. They must be able to quickly request help and report problems. Colleagues, I am asking you to personally oversee this area of work together with heads of the regions. This is very important. It is already being done by social services and volunteers. And they deserve special thanks for it.
I am once again addressing all Russians: please do all you can to look out for your mums and dads of this age as well as your grandparents. They always need our support, help, affection and attention, but especially now.
Now to preventive measures taken to contain the spread of the virus.
The fact that we have prevented the scenario a number of countries are facing now is mostly due to our epidemiologists. They have been working non-stop in recent months. Everyone must carefully follow their guidelines and orders. Please stay on top of this and oversee things.
First, the most important task at this stage is to contain potential sources of transmission as much as possible.
And so I am asking you to work with federal and regional bodies to establish a procedure to identify those who have returned to Russia from countries with serious coronavirus outbreaks over the last two weeks or will return soon. They must stay in quarantine or self-isolation; their health and the health of their families must be monitored; and the people with whom they have had contact and may have infected must be identified.
This is work that has to be done on the ground. I want to emphasise this: it must be done on the ground, not just on paper or in reports. No exceptions.
Second. Moscow and the Moscow Region have introduced restrictions and mandatory self-isolation. This measure is justified and necessary for a huge agglomeration with millions of people, the first to encounter the coronavirus. I am asking Muscovites and residents of the Moscow Region to take these forced but absolutely necessary preventive and restrictive measures very seriously. We are talking about your health and safety, and the lives of those near you.
Third. Measures have been adopted all across Russia to limit operations of facilities that are visited by a large number of people. These are clubs, cinemas, shopping malls and other places. At the same time, unfortunately, not everyone follows the regime, while local authorities turn a blind eye on these violations. I believe that this is not just a lack of discipline and common sense. This is criminal negligence, and you should treat it accordingly.
I ask you to control and ensure scrupulous compliance with all restrictive measures, to work together with law enforcement agencies and control bodies and to react to citizens’ complaints.
Fourth. As I already said, all vital structures, including places selling basic goods, pharmacies, utility systems, process industries and government agencies will continue operating this week. But they also need to conform to enhanced safety requirements. It concerns, first of all, strict compliance with sanitary standards and regular disinfecting. They also have to provide personnel with individual means of protection.
Stores and pharmacies need to follow a special servicing procedure to prevent people from staying close to each other in queues. Experts say that 1.5–2 metres is the recommended distance between people. I hope everyone already knows this. It is important.
As for the so-called process industries and government agencies, it is important to introduce flexible working hours and if possible switch to working remotely. I ask you to monitor this carefully and to establish constant direct contacts with employers and heads of enterprises, regardless of the form of incorporation. It is important that enterprises producing goods that are in high demand today continue their operations.
The next set of issues I would like to discuss with you concerns the socioeconomic situation and the tasks of federal and regional bodies to ensure its stability.
In this regard, first: we have the necessary stock of essential goods, but I am still asking you to constantly monitor the situation together with your colleagues in the regions, prevent local problems in the retail segment, and, what is very important for people, control the prices of food, medicines, personal protective gear and other goods that are in demand now.
It is necessary to fully prevent any attempts to restrict trade flows between regions. We have had such a situation in the recent past. I would like to stress that our country is one big family. However, as they say, every family has its black sheep. This is why I am asking you to firmly prevent any price gouging or monopoly price increases.
Second, all the measures taken at the regional level must be sensible and coordinated. The regional authorities have to quickly agree their actions and inform the Government and the State Council working group. I am asking the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoys to ensure strict compliance with this coordination procedure.
Third, the list of systemically important enterprises and industries that require special monitoring has already been created at the federal level.
Every region in its turn must create such a list, as they say, manually. There is no need to be afraid of this. We must ensure these enterprises remain operational as this also means jobs.
I am asking you to support the regions, including on coordinating the work of local enterprises and banks operating in the regions.
Let me add that the Government will ensure the replenishment of the regional guarantee funds so that the regions will have additional capacities to support business loans locally. I am asking the Cabinet to increase the financing of these programmes and speed up the allocation of funds. Please do not delay.
Fourth. I understand that tax deferrals and other measures to support small and medium-sized businesses and sole proprietors will affect regional budgets. They may see a shortfall in revenue.
But I want to emphasise and remind our colleagues from the regions that despite this situation, current budget expenditures should not be cut. On the contrary, the task now is to fully fund all planned programmes and contracts as quickly as possible, without a hitch. These funds are urgently needed by the economy. They must be put to work protecting people’s jobs and incomes and keeping businesses stable.
Naturally, regional budgets should receive the necessary additional support. Already now the Russian regions have the opportunity to use treasury loans to cover so-called cash gaps. But we cannot limit ourselves to this short-term measure alone; it is not enough.
I am instructing the Government and the Finance Ministry to develop a set of systemic steps and provide the necessary funding to ensure the sustainability of regional budgets. I also ask the Presidential Envoys to join in this work and in solving this problem, to help objectively assess the needs of the regions for additional support, and, of course, to monitor – I want to emphasise this – the targeted nature and efficient spending of these funds on the ground.
And in general, I’m asking you not just to monitor the situation closely, but also do that on a daily basis. Let me remind you, for example, that by May 10, the authorities in all regions must finish submitting all information from civil registry offices to tax authorities. This is necessary so that in June, as I said in my Address to the Nation, we can start making payments to families with children from three to seven years old inclusively. Please provide the regions with all the necessary information and methodological support to implement this and other instructions.
Let us get down to work. Please report on the situation on the ground.