H.E. Mr. Beka Dvali, Ambassdor of Georgia to South Africa
2 April 2020
- The world’s population is collectively facing the worst crisis, since 1945. How is your country coping with the situation? Please may you mention key measures and strategies that your government is currently adopting as well as noting the possible impact, of the pandemic, to your economy?
Humankind has indeed encountered the challenge of global proportions – invisible enemy – coronavirus causing COVID-19 pandemic. This challenge effected each and every nation in today’s globalized environment. Georgia, as an open economy with thriving tourism industry being also transportation hub has also been effected by this tremendous challenge. First case of COVID 19 was identified in Georgia on 26 February 2020 at one of Georgia’s border checkpoints. And after more then a month, the total number of persons infected stands at 130, with 26 cured and discharged from hospital and with 0 fatalities. This numbers fares well in comparison with what is happening globally. For this, credit goes to our real time heroes – medical personnel and health care professionals who alerted Georgian Government in time and channeled swiftly in right direction our Government’s response. The one primary structures that from the very beginning supplied Government with recommendations and developed anticoronavirus strategy and tactic for Georgia, of course based on the general recommendations of WHO, have been the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia, Tbilisi Hospital For Infectious Diseases, Bochorishvili Clinic, other. Also, instrumental has been the role of the Lugar Lab in Georgia, which from day 1 has been doing swift and efficient coronavirus PCR tests.
Early on, Special Coordination Council was created, chaired by Mr. Giorgi Gakharia, Prime Minister of Georgia, coordinating necessary all-encompassing measures countrywide. This helped Georgia to contain the virus for weeks. Only after a month or so from the first registered COVID-19 case we faced the first case of internal transmission and this gave us a head-start in effective fight with the virus to be ready for internal transmission stage.
From the very beginning, Government sensed the possible blow this pandemic could have on economy, on our citizens. Hence, stage by stage, Government has started implementing economic measures, including massive direct budget aid to most vulnerable strata of society as well as to businesses effected by the crises. This effort is ongoing, it will be expanded and adjusted, as we, as much as global community, still have to go through the weeks, if not the months, of the war with this virus. Government’s premise is to adjust economic measures along the way so as when the pandemic is over, our country and our businesses, our citizens in general, restart their normal lives and economic activity with minimal losses and with maximum efficiency.
- The world needs good news, perhaps more than ever before. As such, we would like to ask about your countries recoveries. Are you seeing recoveries and what is the recovery rate? Are there specific approaches, that your country is exercising to minimize new infections?
Due to the outstanding efficiency and professionalism of Georgian medical doctors and healthcare professionals, by 2 April 2020, Georgia has 26 persons cured from Covid-19 out of 130 infected. And we have not a single coronavirus induced death within Georgia. It is comforting to know that a number of aged and critical COVID-19 patients in Georgia, who also had medical conditions have been stabilized and recovering. Just on 1 April we learned that one of Georgian COVID-19 patients-older citizens with other preexisting medical conditions, who initially had only 3% of chance of recovery has been stabilized and cured.
Government of Georgia initiated the implementation of appropriate preparatory actions from the very early stages of the spread of the virus both within the framework of the healthcare sector as well as across various other sectors. Government listened attentively to Georgian healthcare professionals and acted on their advice rapidly. Travel restrictions have been imposed rapidly, screening protocols in airports and at other borders checkpoints have been introduced fast. Tracing of all contacts has been implemented effectively. Schools and other education institutions were closed fast. “Work from Home” and Distant Learning was encouraged. Public Broadcaster launch so called “Tele-Schooling”. And as soon as the first case of internal transmission was identified in the end of March, Government immediately introduced additional restrictive measures and curfew. “Stay Home” and “Social Distancing” are order of the day. Obviously, Government has to walk a fine line to make sure that foundations of economic activity are stable and ready for full recovery, when the pandemic is over. In all these, public outreach through various media, including special web-site ( www.stopcov.ge/eng ) has played an important role.
- The people of the Republic of South Africa have been greatly impacted by the negative effects of Covid-19. We are sure you have come to love this country and the African continent. Any words of comfort as well as solidarity, from your mission and your country, to the millions of South Africans in need of hope?
Me, my wife and my son fell in love with South Africa.
We, all of us – humans, are in this together. We wage this war together against this virus and should stand in solidarity with each other.
In the past, on numerous occasions, South Africans have displayed their resilience in critical times. I have seen this before coming to this country and I have lived it after I came to work here.
Under the strong leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa and the bold measures applied by South African Government, no doubt, the virus will be defeated swiftly in this beautiful land. Georgia and Georgians stand in solidarity with South African brothers and sisters to whom we wish strength and good health. Together, we shall overcome!