By Akbar Mammadov
President Ilham Aliyev has said the situation over coronavirus pandemic is under full control in Azerbaijan.
Aliyev made the remarks at the opening of three modular hospitals opened in Baku’s Bilgah settlement, Sumgait city and Absheron district’s Saray settlement on June 9.
“As a result of preventive measures, today the situation is under full control. The number of infected people has been increasing in the past 10 days. This is due to the fact that during the softening period, some citizens behave irresponsibly. Nevertheless, the situation is under full control. We have enough places in hospitals, as well as in intensive care units. At the same time, coronavirus patients will be treated in 10 hospitals with an additional 2,000 beds. So far, there is no need for that. However, we are taking all steps to be ready for the most critical situation, to provide medical care to all patients in the most critical situation”, the president said.
Thanks to the installation of modular hospitals, the country's health system will have additional 2,000 beds. The main goal is to provide integrated management and medical coordination to provide coronavirus patients with the necessary medical services, the president said.
In this regard, Aliyev noted that these coronavirus patients will be treated in these hospitals, thus the next important step is taken in the fight against coronavirus.
“The first modular hospital opened a month ago, on May 7, and now their number has reached four. I noted at the opening ceremony on May 7 that the number of these hospitals much reach 10. I hope that in the near future - by the end of the month, the remaining 6 hospitals will be commissioned. Thus, we will have an additional 2,000 beds, which will further expand our capabilities in the fight against coronavirus”, Aliyev said.
The president highlighted the fact that four of these 10 hospitals will be built by the private sector at its own expense. “Thus, the burden on the state is slightly reduced. I would like to express my gratitude to the private sector and, at the same time, ordinary citizens for their financial support during the coronavirus”, he added.
In addition, President Aliyev reminded that at his initiative, the Coronavirus Support Fund had been established, and initially 20 million Azerbaijani manats [$11,8 million] was allocated from the President's reserve fund.
“Today, the amount collected in the fund at the expense of entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens has exceeded 100 million manats [$58,9 million]. This once again shows that our people can unite, show solidarity and unity in difficult times. Therefore, I support the active role of the private sector in this work”, he said.
President Aliyev also emphasized that at the same time, public organizations, first of all, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and other public organizations, entrepreneurs have provided humanitarian assistance to low-income people during this period, and this process continues.
“In this struggle, obviously, the main burden falls on the Azerbaijani government. The Azerbaijani government is doing its best to get out of this situation with less losses”, he added.
Aliyev also stressed that Azerbaijan is one of the rare countries in the world where all patients infected with the coronavirus are treated in medical institutions.
The president underlined the fact that one of the reasons for the low number of coronavirus-related deaths in Azerbaijan is that all infected patients are admitted to medical institutions and receive the necessary services.
“All preventive measures have been taken so that we are ready for the most difficult situation. New laboratories have been purchased for this purpose. Presently, the number of laboratories exceed 20. Our most advanced hospitals have been dedicated to treating coronavirus patients, including the ‘Yeni klinika’, our most beautiful, state-of-the-art hospital and other hospitals”, the president noted.
“At the same time, I consider that special conditions have been created in Azerbaijan for citizens who remain in quarantine. Because they [quarantined people] are housed in 4-5 star hotels, as well as in the Athletes Village, and most people in quarantine are housed in the Athletes Village. Thousands of people have been evacuated from abroad, and this process is continuing, of course, on schedule. There, too, all work must be done in an organized manner”, Aliyev said.
The president also touched upon the fact that a special portal has been created and citizens wishing to return to Azerbaijan register on that portal at the expense of the state on a rotating basis.
“At the same time, the financial issues of citizens who were in a difficult situation during the restrictive period have been resolved, and Azerbaijan has shown leadership here as well. In general, 3.5 billion manats [$2.06 billion] is provided for the fight against the pandemic, unemployed people, low-income people, entrepreneurs. Purchase of medical equipment, medicines - the state has allocated large funds for all this”, he noted.
Emphasizing professionalism and dedication of doctors to fight against coronavirus, Aliyev has highly appreciated the activities of the Operational Headquarters, Mandatory Medical Insurance Agency and The Administration of the Regional Medical Divisions (TABIB).
Aliyev praised Azerbaijan’s model to fight against the coronavirus, noting that the country has registered about 8,000 infection cases, conducted more than 350,000 tests and is among the leading countries for the number of tests per person.
“However, the number of infected people in neighbouring Armenia has exceeded 13,000, and the number of tests is 5-6 times less than ours. If we take into account that the population of Armenia is 5 times smaller than the population of Azerbaijan, the picture is quite clear. If I receive hundreds of letters of thanks every day, the Armenian leadership hears hundreds of curses”, Aliyev added.
He also pointed out that Azerbaijan has used its industrial potential to fight against COVID-19, noting that the country started to produce medical masks, disinfectants, special clothes in a short period of time.
Furthermore, President Aliyev urged residents to use medical masks in closed places, public transports, shopping centres and offices, and to follow social distancing and hygiene rules.
“Only these three factors - as doctors and various public figures have said, perhaps a thousand times - must be taken into account: a medical mask, a distance of one and a half to two meters and disinfectants. According to doctors, 95 per cent of these factors protect people. Therefore, I urge citizens to follow these very simple rules and know that the coronavirus has not disappeared yet”, he said.
The president also noted that in case of sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, the government will once again apply restrictions, even though current softening steps are taking place in Azerbaijan like in other countries.
The president also reminded that the government prioritized residents’ health over economy.
“For me personally, the health of people without hesitation has always been in the first place, including during the pandemic. Therefore, we have consciously taken restrictive steps, knowing that this will have a negative impact on our economic activity,” the president said.
He underlined the fact that Azerbaijan’s GDP decreased by 1.7 per cent in these five months during the pandemic.
“At the same time, I must say that industrial production has increased slightly. But the industry in the non-oil sector grew by 14 per cent. Agriculture grew by 3.6 per cent. The average salary is about 740 manat. That's over $430. Inflation is below 3 per cent, that is, at the forecast level”, the president added.
In this regard, Aliyev emphasized that generally, Azerbaijan’s economic activity had been very successful in this period.
Stressing that people’s life is priceless, Aliyev said that by now and after that, the main factor is people’s safety and health.
The increasing dynamics of patients and infections shows that the tendency to soften has led to this. But still, the situation is under control. The main factor here is the ratio between infected and recovered persons.
The president pointed out that Azerbaijan’s current healthcare capabilities allow the country to maintain the situation under the control.
Regarding Azerbaijan’s role in the international arena, the president reminded that recently Azerbaijan initiated holding the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) as well as the Summit of the Cooperation Council of the Turkic-Speaking countries.
The Summit of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was attended by representatives of 120 countries, including the European Union for the first time.
Aliyev recalled that Azerbaijan had suggested the members of the Non-Aligned Movement hold the special session on COVID-19 at the UN General Assembly, and they unanimously supported this initiative.
Touching upon the international solidarity, the president noted that Azerbaijan had provided the humanitarian aid to 14 countries, as well as helped 15 countries of the World Health Organization, which are also the members of NAM.
“As you know, Azerbaijan has twice made individual donations to the World Health Organization, and thus Azerbaijan has provided humanitarian assistance to 29 countries through the international organization… Azerbaijan is one of the countries that provided the most humanitarian assistance during the pandemic,” the president said.
“During this period, I want to say once again that Azerbaijan has shown itself as a politically strong state in the international arena, as a strong state in the economic sphere, as a strong state in the social sphere. This showed that the citizen of Azerbaijan is at the centre of our policy”, Aliyev said.
Furthermore, President Aliyev touched upon the fact that according to estimates of leading international financial institutions, even though more than 150 countries have applied for assistance to international financial institutions, Azerbaijan is not in this list.
The president concluded his speech referring to the slogan reflected in Flame Towers, one of Azerbaijan’s new symbols: “Love to Azerbaijani doctors!”
Akbar Mammadov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AkbarMammadov97
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