Corona Updates

During the past week, the decreasing trend in new coronavirus cases has been stably maintained. A significant decrease in the number of coronavirus-related deaths is also particularly noteworthy, with the country having reported between 5 and 10 fatalities on average during the last seven days.

The Statistics

During the past week, 500-800 new cases on average have been reported daily against the background of expanded testing, with the Georgian capital Tbilisi recording the highest number of COVID-19 cases, followed by Adjara and the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti regions.

Georgia’s total case tally now stands at 264,158 since February last year, of which 256,024 people recovered and 3321 died.

At present, active cases of COVID-19 stand at 4787. 2083 of those individuals are being treated in hospitals, of which 960 are stationed in Tbilisi, 160 in Adjara and 448 in Imereti. 456 patients are in a critical condition: 188 in Tbilisi, 47 in Adjara and 119 in Imereti. Ventilators are currently being used to keep 129 patients alive. A further 386 individuals are in quarantine, of which 219 are located in Tbilisi and 100 in Adjara.

New safety regulations - Pupils Must Wear Face Masks in 5th -12th Grade

Wearing face masks will be mandatory for pupils of the 5th-12th grades in all schools, the Minister of Education Mikheil Chkhenkeli announced on Tuesday.

The Minister explained that this move is aimed at contributing to the positive dynamics and the decreasing trend in coronavirus cases.

“It will be mandatory for students in the 5th to 12th grades in all schools to wear a face mask. Detailed instructions will be distributed to the schools, and all schools will communicate with the parents. Everything is being done to maintain the good dynamics that we already have. This is good news, but it needs to be ongoing,” the Minister said, adding that parents themselves should provide their children with face masks for school.

Schools in Rustavi, Tbilisi and Kutaisi will resume the educational process in classrooms on February 15, while other schools countrywide were allowed to open their doors on February 1.

Occupied Tskhinvali Lifts COVID Restrictions

The RES news agency has reported that all restrictions imposed on mass events, including celebrations, funerals and memorials, due to the coronavirus, have been lifted in the Russia-occupied region of Tskhinvali.

The de facto information committee said the relevant decision was made at a meeting of the operational headquarters, chaired by de facto President Anatoly Bibilov.

“It was the right decision to resume the educational process in schools. Now it is possible to remove the restrictions on holding mass events. There is no doubt that necessary sanitary measures are being taken in all institutions and organizations,” Bibilov said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in occupied Tskhinvali, 2901 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, while the virus has claimed the lives of more than 60.

Georgia continues to lead a COVID-restricted life, although the measures being taken are now lighter. While public transport and all types of shops have reopened, and schools are due to open on Monday, the nationwide night curfew is still in effect.

The Vaccine

The percentage of the Georgian population saying it is ready to be vaccinated ranges between 40% - 47%, Deputy Minister of Health Tamar Gabunia announced this week.

She noted that public distrust towards the vaccine is common in all countries; but in Georgia, an active information campaign on vaccination will start at the end of February when the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are imported to Georgia, with hopes of changing the public attitude.

Gabunia added that presently, nine institutions are ready for the Pfizer vaccination, while the process of selecting other institutions is ongoing.

Reportedly, the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which has tested over 95% effective against the coronavirus, will arrive in Georgia by late February. Based on the National Plan for Vaccination, the first doses will be administered to healthcare workers. The target group for vaccination will be adults aged above 18, including those who already recovered from the COVID-19 infection.

The Deputy Minister of Health noted that 14,000 individuals have been selected in Georgia to be vaccinated for coronavirus at the first stage, and all of them are medical workers.

Vaccination will be carried out in the cities of Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi.

She noted that the Pfizer vaccine is recommended for individuals over 19 years of age, while the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is expected to arrive in Georgia in March, is recommended for individuals 16+.

“No data is yet available about vaccination efficiency in children,” Gabunia noted.

Recovery Plans

"Economic growth, jobs and investment promotion are the top priorities of the Georgian government, and business support is of great importance in this process," said Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia at a government meeting with large employers this week.

The meeting focused on the steps that need to be taken by the joint efforts of both the government and business sector to maintain a competitive position, and the potential for rapid economic recovery in the post-pandemic economic recovery phase.

It was noted that in order to overcome the difficulties caused by the pandemic as soon as possible, and to ease the existing restrictions more boldly, it is crucial to enforce the established rules and regulations, including the proper use of face masks and maintaining social distance.

The PM spoke about the consequences of the restrictions imposed in the country since November and said that the stabilization achieved by the current regulations has given the country the resources to carefully restore tourism, which is one of the main driving forces of the country's economy, and “add oxygen” to the economic recovery process.

In addition, he said, structural economic reforms will continue in the country, capital expenditures will increase, privatization of state property will accelerate, along with the systemic reform of state-owned enterprises to bring their management closer to the highest standards of corporate governance.

Gakharia reaffirmed readiness to personally engage in the process of resolving issues important to large employers, and to be a guarantor to resolve any problematic issues within the law as soon as possible, including the smooth implementation of projects in the face of pandemic difficulties.

"Economic growth, job creation and the promotion of foreign direct investment are our top priorities, as they are all directly linked to a rapid recovery from the global crisis. I'm always ready to hear concrete proposals from you, and you should know that the door of the government administration is open for your involvement," the PM told the 40 attendees on Monday, representatives of large businesses operating in various fields.

By Ana Dumbadze

11 February 2021 20:05