WHO representative in Belarus says lack of physical distance can lead to increased deaths

World Health Organization experts call on the Belarusian authorities to take immediate steps to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in the country. At the beginning of the outbreak of the infection in Belarus, a representative of the WHO in our country, Batyr Berdiklychev, expressed his satisfaction with the measures taken by the authorities. Now, in an interview with Belsat, the WHO representative noted that the situation with COVID-19 is a concern.

Batyr Berdiklychev said in an interview with Belsat that he had been in constant working contact with the Ministry of Health and doctors.

“I have to say that the Ministry of Health holds in high esteem the WHO recommendations and we are actively working together to implement them. However, the implementation of a number of recommendations calls for action not only in the health sector but also in other sectors within a nationwide approach. We hope that the governments will take the proper steps in the matter of additional measures of physical distance and mass events, which correspond to the current epidemiological situation,” Batyr Berdyklichev told Belsat.


WHO Representative Office in Belarus. Photo credit: un.by.


According to the WHO representative, some measures taken by the Belarusian authorities are insufficient and require further elaboration.

“Although Belarus has increased its bed capacity and healthcare infrastructure to treat the number of patients with COVID-19, the rapid growth of new cases in the absence of adequate physical distance measures could soon lead to a significant overload of the existing potential of the healthcare system. Accordingly, the availability of care may be limited, including for patients in serious and critical condition. This, in turn, can lead to an increase in the number of deaths,” warns Batyr Berdiklychev.

“The number of the infected can exceed 115 thousand people”

According to earlier forecasts of the Ministry of Health, the peak of COVID-19 cases in Belarus will be at the end of April, beginning of May. The WHO representative in Belarus agreed with this assessment. But experts from the Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Research disagree. The Center has made calculations using the mathematical model based on SEIR. Experts believe that the peak of the disease can occur in mid-May. In the third decade of May, the total number of deaths in the negative scenario may be about 3 thousand people, the total number of people infected can exceed 115 thousand.

The fact that the time frame to stop the growth of the number of infected people in our country is limited has been emphasized by the representative of the WHO in Belarus Batyr Berdiklychev. According to him, our country is moving into a new phase of the epidemic — the sustainable transmission of infection to the population. Therefore, the WHO mission now recommends that national measures be taken immediately to enhance physical distance at national and regional levels:

  • reschedule all mass events, including sports, cultural, political and religious;
  • introduce formats of remote work and distance learning, suspend the activities of all minor organizations, enterprises and economic entities;
  • ensure strict implementation of prevention and infection control measures in workplaces where remote work is not possible: hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, distance at a safe distance of 1-1.5 m;
  • ensure distance between workers, limit meetings and meetings, and provide adequate ventilation, especially in health facilities;
  • minimize casual movements, especially for high-risk and vulnerable patients.