By Akbar Mammadov
President Ilham Aliyev has urged civic responsibility to fight COVID-19, saying that there must be a strict government control to ensure that quarantine rules are observed.
Aliyev made the remarks during the opening of a new module-type hospital for infectious diseases in Ganja on 24 June.
The president urged citizens wear masks and observe social distancing rules to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“I wear a mask in all closed places. Well, if the president does this, why can't others do it? Why is it so difficult? It does not cause any problems. It is mere irresponsibility and I can say, selfishness and indifference,” Aliyev noted.
The president also said that young people have tendency to overlook the COVID-19 problem, believing that they will recover, while infecting the elderly.
“Do we have to put up with this irresponsibility? This is a crime. Therefore, there must be public condemnation and a very strict state control. In this case, we can take all measures more quickly and get out of this situation with less losses.”
The president also said that there might be shortage of doctors if there infections cases dramatically increase.
“We highly appreciate the work of doctors. But everyone should know that doctors get infected and doctors die, too. I want to state again that we are involving in this work all doctors that we have. We don't have twice as many doctors… Hospitals are being built and we have free beds. But how can we increase the number of doctors?" the president said.
“As you know, the whole world is suffering from this disease, and the sharp increase in the number of patients has hit the health system of many countries. In fact, no country's health care system was ready to treat such a rapidly growing number of patients. This was not possible. At the same time, another problem is the number of doctors who serve patients. The number of doctors cannot increase in 2-3 months. Therefore, this has become a big problem for many countries, including us. Therefore, it has been very useful in taking restrictive measures”, he said.
In his speech, the president also emphasized that the steps taken by the state will not be useful if they are not supported by the public en masse. He urged citizens to follow three simple rules regarding wearing face mask, keeping social distancing and using disinfection in a bid to fight the virus.
Commenting on the modular hospital opened in Ganja, Aliyev said:
“The 5th modular hospital is being opened in our country. Two of them have already started operating in Baku, one in Sumgayit and one in the Absheron region. Similar hospitals will be opened in other cities in the coming weeks. Thus, the number of these hospitals will reach 10. This will allow us to get an additional 2,000 beds. Given the growing number of coronavirus patients, this should play a role in the fight against COVID-19."
In his speech, the president noted that if modern hospitals had not been built in every part of the country, including Baku, in recent years, today the country would be facing great problems in the fight against coronavirus.
“Thus, hospitals have been built in the vast majority of our cities, and construction continues in several cities. The last hospital will be opened in Samukh district. Funds have been allocated for these purposes and additional funds will be allocated.”
The president also said that the preventive measures being taken in the country has helped to keep the infection cases very compared to other countries.
“A total of 13,000 people were infected. Most of them recovered and were released from hospitals. Therefore, preventive and restrictive measures have been of great benefit”, added Aliyev.
The president said that due to some people’s failure to follow preventive measures, the government had to impose a quarantine regime in Baku and several other cities.
“The main and only reason for this is that, unfortunately, some people do not follow the basic rules of protection."
“New rules of conduct must now be applied en masse. Therefore, the main efforts of all countries are to reduce the rate of infection, make fewer people sick, and allow the country's health system to allow all patients to receive the necessary treatment”, the president noted.
Aliyev underlined that the main reason why some countries apply more softening steps is related to economic considerations. He reiterated that his government has prioratized people's health over econonomy.
Furthermore, the president stressed that there will be no reductions in the social project in the country.
“Regardless of the scale of the coronavirus pandemic, living standards should remain unchanged until the end of the year”, he said, adding that the government has applied a very great social packet.
“The minimum wage has doubled on average, and the minimum pension has increased by 70 per cent. Benefits increased by 50 per cent and 100 per cent. Problem loans were given to people in the form of compensation as a material gift. That is, billions of manats were spent for these purposes. More than 3 billion manats will be allocated to fight the pandemic.”
Aliyev spoke about the state support to people, especially to the low-income class.
“We solve the problems of people in difficult situations, including public organizations, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Of course, the main burden is on the state. Assistance is provided to the poor. Entrepreneurs and individuals have contributed more than 100 million manats to the Coronavirus Support Fund, which was established on my initiative”.
Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is buying new equipment, and has 23 laboratories. However, the president noted that the problem is that sometimes the country cannot purchase equipment or device, which has already been ordered in February and March, because the countries that produce it do not sell it, they keep it for themselves.
It should be noted that on May 29, Azerbaijan’s Cabinet of Ministers adopted a decision that requires residents wear respiratory protection means and keep a social distancing of up to two meters in certain venues across the country. Thus, the fines range from $29 to $235.