Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with regional heads via a video link amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia April 28, 2020.
COVID-19 restrictions in Russia could begin being lifted in mid-May, but only if people continue to abide by the current rules, President Vladimir Putin said in his latest video address to the nation on April 28, as he ordered the formulation of strategies to return Russia to normal functioning.
The Russian leader also declared that, while the peak of the coronavirus disease is still ahead, we have learned quickly from mistakes and now face new challenges. The president announced the following milestones and issued further orders on dealing with the pandemic.
- Ventilators, respirators and specialized beds are exceeding production quotas, sometimes tenfold since the start of the year; if only 60-70 ventilators were being made daily in January, Russia is producing 800 per day in April; respirator numbers also grew from 800,000 per day to more than 8.5 million today. Production of medical supplies has increased ninefold; and if Russia only produced 2,500 coronavirus tests daily, it is capable now of making over 150,000. However, Putin admitted that there’s still a deficit of medical equipment.
- The regions were tasked with making 95,000 beds by April 28, with some over-delivering on their quotas, while others not quite hitting their numbers. “Yesterday’s solutions might not be enough for tomorrow’s problems,” the president said, as he ordered every region and sector to not stop when a quota has been hit: “We must work preventively, I repeat. And we must be ready to enact new measures and increase our readiness for any outcome at all.”
- Russia has managed to stem the flow of daily cases thanks to the efforts of millions of citizens listening to authorities. But we must not stop there, and are now facing “the most tough stage of the pandemic”. Discipline and organization must be observed at a national level during these unprecedented times.
In an unexpected turn, the Russian leader revealed plans to bring the country out of emergency mode, but gradually, pending further developments and on a region by region basis. He outlined the following new steps on the way to doing so.
- Three paid non-working days are to be added after the May Day holidays, effectively extending the non-working period to May 11.
- Regional heads are to retain their powers so as to be able to react to their respective coronavirus situations and make individual decisions separately from other regions.
- Most importantly, while restrictions cannot be lifted everywhere at once, the president has ordered the country’s consumer watchdog ‘Rospotrebnadzor’ to work together with the state council’s working group and develop a set of steps to gradually start bringing the country back to normal functioning from as early as May 12.
The first draft of the plan must be on his desk by May 5, Putin stressed.
However, the president also emphasized that this can only be done if current numbers hold, and we don’t face new unexpected challenges (there are still well over 2,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on average daily in Moscow alone).
Crucially, we must learn from this never-before-seen situation, and adapt the lessons learned here to life after the coronavirus, making lasting improvements to our way of life, the Russian leader said.
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