President Alexander Lukashenko said nobody had died of coronavirus in Belarus and again rejected any need for the lockdown measures recommended by the WHO.
Belarus will not disregard the WHO recommendations but act accordingly, the president said at a government conference on the sustainable operation of the economy and the social sector amid the global epidemiological situation on Thursday, 23 April.
Lukashenko confirmed that he received a letter from the WHO director general, in which the agency assesed the country’s actions in combating the disease and recommended the measures to take.
“But what if they, let’s say, recommend us to impose some measures up to the curfew? I stress once again: if such a need arises we will impose the curfew, isolate cities, towns and villages. But is the country facing such a problem today?
No, it doesn’t. Therefore, we will not shrug off the the recommendations, but we must act accordingly, based on a set of recommendations, our own experience. There is no room for hit-or-miss or just-in-case strategies,” the Belarusian leader said.
Not to overload the healthcare system
One of the most important challenges for the country right now, according to the president, is not to overload the healthcare system.
“So far Belarus is coping with this. God willing, we will keep going at such a pace, and as experts say, flat the curve and have the incidence of the disease fall among the population.”
He recommended the healthcare workers to focus on treating patients with pneumonia, because “any pneumonia can be aggravated by COVID-19.” At the same time, Lukashenko noted that it is necessary to remember about patients with other dangerous diseases.
“I don’t want to repeat myself, but I stress the main thing: there is not a single person in Belarus who died of coronavirus,” the president said, adding that the condition of all the deceased persons “was aggraveted by a long list of diseases.”
What does WHO recommend?
The WHO mission arrived in Belarus at the invitation of the Belarusian authorities to evaluate the country’s response to COVID-19. During their trip he experts inspected healthcare facilities of Minsk, Minsk oblast and Vitebsk oblast.
“It’s time to get ready for the worst-case scenarios, it’s a long run,” said Dr. Patrick O’Connor of the WHO’s Regional Office for Europe. The agency recommended to cancel large gatherings, sports, religious and cultural events; create an opportunity for distance learning and remote work.