A Georgian medical textile company produced 40,000 medical gowns in one week, after purchasing 12 additional sewing machines with support from the EU project ‘Clusters 4 Development’.

With a total of 18 sewing machines, the company can now meet the high demand for surgical gowns in Georgia, and actively support the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. 

 ‘Clusters 4 Development’ is funded by the EU and the German government. It supports the development of business clusters in three sectors: apparel, construction materials and tourism.

The project also collaborates with the Georgian government to improve the institutional framework for cluster and business development. The project is implemented under the ‘EU4Business’ initiative.

As part of the global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission stands by Eastern partner countries and has reallocated €140 million for the most immediate needs in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine. In addition, the Commission will also redirect the use of existing instruments worth up to €700 million to help mitigate the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said: “These are very difficult times not only for the EU, but for our partner countries as well. We are doing all we can to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on human lives and livelihoods. We are responding both to the immediate needs of the health systems, as well as longer term needs to the most vulnerable groups in society and small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the backbone of the economies in the six countries”.  

Responding to immediate needs

At the request of the partner countries, the Commission will respond to immediate needs by supporting the supply of medical devices and personal equipment, such as ventilators, laboratory kits, masks, goggles, gowns, and safety suits. The European Commission is working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), and is deploying €30 million to ensure these necessary supplies are jointly purchased and effectively distributed to the health systems of the six countries in the coming weeks. In addition, the funds will support national health administrations to train medical and laboratory staff and carry out awareness raising measures to the wider population.

The Commission has also made available more than €11.3 million in small grants to civil society organisations. These funds are already responding to immediate needs, through the ongoing regional “Rapid Response Mechanism”, such as supporting local schools with distance learning. By the summer, and as part of this package, the Commission will launch the “Eastern Partnership Solidarity Programme” which will target the most affected parts of the populations through civil society support and notably sub-grants to smaller, local organisations.

Mitigating the socio-economic impact of the outbreak

The Commission is working closely with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and relevant financing institutions from EU Member States as TEAM EUROPE providing a coordinated European response for the real economy, including SMEs, in particular through: 

-    Launching of a new support programme of €100 million to help SMEs, including self-employed and others to easily access credit and boost their businesses after the crisis;

-    Facilitating, simplifying, accelerating, and reinforcing €200 million worth of existing credit lines and grants to SMEs in local currency including through its EU4Business Initiative;

-    In addition, in the current crisis the EU has mobilised its major de-risking instrument the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), worth a total of €1.55 billion, with €500 million being made available for the EU’s neighbourhood. This will rapidly provide liquidity in the EU’s neighbourhood, including through working capital, trade finance, or moratoria on debt service. This support is in addition to the ongoing macro financial assistance support to partners, including Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. 

The Commission also stands ready to provide assistance through TAIEX, its peer to peer instrument, by using EU Member States expertise, experience and examples of good practices on assessing emergency preparedness response scheme and health systems.

The outbreak of coronavirus has accelerated the spread of myths and disinformation around it, coming from various sources both within and outside of the European Union. Learn more in the report on Disinformation on the coronavirus.

More information on the European Commission’s coordination of a common European response to the coronavirus outbreak   click here

Georgia reports first case COVID-19 death

Published in Health
Saturday, 04 April 2020 13:54

Georgia reported the first case of death from COVID-19 infection – Amiran Gamkrelidze, Head of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health told journalists.

A 79-year-old woman, placed at the clinic on March 31, died from novel coronavirus and accompanied health complications. The patient belonged to Marneuli-Bolnisi cluster.

"Earlier this morning, a fatal case of coronavirus infection was confirmed. The victim is a 79-year-old woman, whose main diagnosis was Covid-19 and acute pneumonia. The complications included respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis, septic shock, spontaneous pneumothorax, acute respiratory failure, acute failure of the cardiovascular system, acute heart failure. The concomitant diseases of this patient were quite severe,” said Amiran Gamkrelidze.

The number of cases of coronavirus infection has increased to 157 in Georgia. The information is posted on the government-run website stopcov.ge.

5 526 people are in quarantine and 344 are under inpatient care.

28 out of 157 people have recovered and one has died.

 

 

 

On 23 March, the EU issued a statement in reaction to the presidential elections in the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia.

“The European Union supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, as recognised by international law,” the statement said. “With regard to the so-called presidential elections that took place in the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia on 22 March 2020, we recall that the European Union does not recognise the constitutional and legal framework in which they took place.”

The EU added that it will continue to pursue its policy of non-recognition and engagement, and the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia will remain fully mobilised in this regard.

The prime minister of Georgia would like to thank each and every citizen, particularly the residents of Tbilisi, for the understanding with which they approached yesterday's events throughout all of Georgia, especially after 21:00. Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia made this statement at the session of the Interagency Coordination Council on the coronavirus.

According to the head of government, this shows how the citizens perceive a sense of shared responsibility.

"This is of extreme importance to us as it shows the way in which we jointly perceived the responsibility, which is our shared responsibility - not just of the government but of each and every citizen of this country. Above all, this is a responsibility toward one another, toward our parents, the older generation. Only thus will we be able to overcome this challenge quickly," Giorgi Gakharia stated.

The head of government discussed the decisions taken to support the economy.

According to the government's decision, 2 billion GEL has been allocated for the direct assistance of the economy as of today.

According to the prime minister's assessment, this is the assistance that will be aimed at the retention of jobs, as well as the retention of companies, ongoing production, and current businesses.

"First of all, we understand that every one of our citizens has suffered direct economic damage in connection with the measures that the government is forced to implement in order to protect the health of our citizens. This damage is often direct and tangible. In many cases, people have lost their income and their jobs. Precisely for this reason, at this stage, and considering the fact that this crisis differs from all other crises because it is impossible to make accurate predictions concerning duration, as well as in terms of correctly estimating damage to the economy, we are forced - and in contrast to all other actors, it is our responsibility - to utilize even the modest capabilities of our economy today in a manner that is as effective and rational as possible," the head of government stated.

According to Giorgi Gakharia, this decision is of utmost importance in order to enable the Georgian economy to develop rapidly and to restore the starting positions it had at the beginning of the year as soon as the concluding phase of the crisis has been reached.

"In this regard, it is our unequivocal decision that we will do our utmost to maintain large-scale, systemic infrastructural projects under conditions of heath safety protection, as well as to support and enable systemic production to continue operating, and to do our best to support systemic fields of the economy to the greatest extent possible. In this regard, as of today, we have mobilized 2 billion GEL in the budget. This is only the beginning and the first stage, given the data that we possess today," the prime minister stated.

The head of government noted that at some stage, after some time has passed, it is possible that the country might face such challenges that this assistance might need to be increased.

The prime minister emphasized that the 2 billion GEL does not include the 351 million GEL that was directly allocated from the budget for the purposes of healthcare in the fight against COVID-19.

"This is the sum that was reserved in the crisis budget in order for us to fight for the health of our fellow citizens and to do everything in our power to hinder the rapid growth of the scale, as well as of the geographic distribution of the infection. These funds must be utilized in an extremely rational manner," the prime minister noted.

According to Giorgi Gakharia's assessment, how the government is managing to provide every citizen with direct assistance at this stage is of the utmost importance.

To this end, the government has decided to fully fund the utility payments of all of our citizens who consume less than 200 kilowatts of electricity per month and less than 200 m3 of natural gas per month for the duration of three months - March, April, and May.

"This includes both cleaning service and water utility payments. This assistance, which we decided within the framework of government, will directly reach our citizens. We understand that this will not be enough. Of course, we understand that we must identify every one of our citizens who have lost their job and we will then make special arrangements to provide them with direct assistance. Furthermore, I would like to emphasize once again that it is of extreme importance, in our case, to utilize each and every lari that was mobilized in the budget today in a rational manner - 2 billion GEL in terms of the economy and the direct assistance of our citizens, and 351 million GEL in terms of healthcare, for the direct fight against COVID-19," Giorgi Gakharia noted.

According to the prime minister, the crisis budget, within the framework of which the government is operating today, is of the utmost importance and the main thing is that the funds have been directed in order to maintain the most effective balance in terms of the fight against the infection, as well as in terms of economic potential.

"Ultimately, all of us understand that our goal is to overcome the virus in such a manner that our economy can retain the potential for rapid growth, and for us to overcome the virus in such a way that the damage to our economy is minimal, and so that job losses are minimal. I would like to call on every individual government agency to use the resources that are mobilized in the crisis budget for your agencies today in the most rational way possible. Of course, we will further discuss the radical reduction of ongoing expenses, which is also envisaged by the crisis budget and this concerns hundreds of millions. However, we must all understand that the main challenge is the following: It is difficult to make concrete and high-quality predictions. For this reason, we have to operate while practically facing new challenges on a daily basis and our main goal should be to act in a rational and effective manner in terms of management and budget spending, while also acting effectively in terms of the fight against the virus," the prime minister stated.

 

Press Service of the Government Administration

An Eastern Partnership that delivers for all

Published in World
Wednesday, 01 April 2020 14:48

High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell and EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Olivér Várhelyi

In this challenging time, marked by the coronavirus outbreak, we can see how important international cooperation is. Over the last decade, the Eastern Partnership has brought concrete benefits for people in Georgia and across the European Union’s eastern neighbourhood. In particular:

  • Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Georgia’s economy, and since 2009, EU support has helped over 40,000 Georgian SMEs and microenterprises access loans on better terms to develop their activities, increase incomes and create jobs;
  • Since 2013, EU assistance to link Georgia’s education programmes to market needs have helped over 30,000 Georgians find employment through more relevant vocation education courses and labour market tools such as Worknet.ge;
  • Over 90,000 Georgians living in smaller towns and villages have easier access to 200 public and banking services as well as free internet and libraries through the EU’s support to the establishment of 76 Government Community Centres throughout the country
  • Under Erasmus+, almost 7,500 students and academic staff exchanges have taken place between Georgia and the EU. Over 9,300 young people and youth workers from Georgia have been involved in joint exchanges, training and volunteering projects.

To ensure our partnership continues to deliver in the fast changing world of today, we need to do even more and better. To shape our priorities, we consulted last year with people, businesses, organisations and governments of 33 countries from across our shared region. While there was an appreciation for the results achieved, there was also a clear expectation that we enhance our cooperation when it comes to jobs and prosperity, investments, connectivity, good governance and common challenges such as climate change and the digital transformation.

And now we presented our response to these consultations with long-term objectives for our policy beyond 2020. Our continued engagement with the Eastern Partnership countries remains a key priority for the European Union. Our proposals for the future are ambitious yet achievable. They build on existing cooperation but also identify areas where we need to go further. They are built on fundamental values as the heart of the EU project, such as the rule of law, protection of human rights and fight against corruption.

Concretely, we are proposing to our partners to work together on the following objectives: 

  • Together for resilient, sustainable and integrated economies: Strengthening the economy is key to meeting citizens’ expectations and reducing inequality and for making our partnership a success. We will focus on job creation and economic opportunities, through increased trade, investments, stronger connectivity, in particular in transport and energy, and linking education, research and innovation better with private sector needs.
  • Together for accountable institutions, the rule of law and security: Good governance and democratic institutions, the rule of law, successful anti-corruption policies and security are essential for sustainable development and the consolidation of democracy. They are the backbone of resilient states and societies as well as strong economies.
  • Together for environmental and climate resilience: To protect our world for generations to come, we all need to take responsibility. The EU will work with its partners to improve the resource-efficiency of economies, develop new green jobs and promote local and renewable sources of energy. 
  • Together for a resilient digital transformation: The EU will further invest in the digital transformation of our partners, aiming to extend the benefits of the Digital Single Market to partner countries. Our joint work will also focus on strengthening e-Governance, scaling up digital start-ups and supporting the cyber resilience of partner countries.  
  • Together for resilient, fair and inclusive societies:  Free and fair elections together with transparent, citizen-centred and accountable public administrations are essential for democracy. The EU will continue to focus on these key areas, engaging with civil society, which needs to be given sufficient space, and supporting free, plural and independent media and human rights, as well as ensuring mobility and people-to-people contacts, all particularly important also due to growing disinformation against EU values.  

Over the past decade, trade between the EU and its eastern partners has nearly doubled. Over 125,000 small and medium-sized businesses have directly benefitted from EU funding, creating or sustaining more than 250,000 jobs. We are better connected thanks to improved transport links and easier access to high capacity broadband. And according to recent surveys, the EU is the most trusted international institution among Eastern Partnership citizens. We will keep this results-oriented approach and look to do much more together in the face of today’s challenges, including when it comes to crises such as COVID-19 pandemic.

And through this we will build an even more ambitious Eastern Partnership that delivers for all and continues to bring our shared continent closer together.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia reaffirms its support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan and does not recognize the so called presidential and parliamentarian elections held on March 31, 2020 in N. Kharabkh. Georgia supports exclusively peaceful settlement of N. Karabakh conflict in line with the norms and principles of international law. https://mfa.gov.ge/News/sagareo-saqmeta-saministros-ganckhadeba-(32).aspx?CatID=5&lang=en-US

The government made the decision to significantly tighten measures within the framework of the state of emergency, which will take effect at 8:00 in the morning tomorrow, stated Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia at a briefing held after the conclusion of a session of the Interagency Coordination Council on the coronavirus.

Today's session took place in an extended format and was attended by the mayor of the capital, members of the Cabinet of Ministers, and senior officials from the Center for Disease Control, in addition to members of the council.

"We have decided to significantly tighten measures within the framework of the state of emergency. Effectively - and I would like to emphasize this - effectively, we are declaring universal quarantine, which will begin tomorrow, at 8:00 in the morning. This quarantine means the following:

• It is completely forbidden to travel using any type of public transport (including the subway), both within and between cities and municipalities.

• It is only permissible to travel using light vehicles (including taxis), and only if the recommendation of the Ministry of Healthcare has been taken into consideration, i.e., if there are no more than three persons in an automobile, with the essential condition that the two persons are seated in the rear seat. This is a very important recommendation and relevant state bodies will make the appropriate decisions in case of noncompliance.

• Also, it is only permissible to carry passengers for the purpose of transporting employees of facilities of strategic importance in an organized and safe manner.

• Gathering of more than three persons is forbidden, with the exception of grocery stores and pharmacies, where maintaining a social distance of two meters is mandatory
.
• Furthermore, rules governing the operation of enterprises that are permitted by the government will be set out separately; they will have separate protocols that will be agreed with the Ministry of Healthcare. We are doing this so that the economy can continue to function and to ensure that the potential that the Georgian economy possesses is not brought to a standstill, as well as, of course, to ensure that our citizens can retain their jobs as much as possible.

• Our citizens above 70 years of age will be forbidden from leaving their homes, unless they are going to their nearest grocery store, their nearest pharmacy, or their nearest medical facility.

• If our citizens above 70 years of age live alone, the Ministry of Healthcare and the Ministry of Economy, as well as local municipalities, are obligated to provide them with assistance.

• Most importantly: Effectively, a full quarantine will be declared for the duration of the state of emergency. It will be forbidden to move on foot or using any other mode of transportation in the cities and throughout the entire country between the hours of 21:00 and 06:00. Effectively - and I would like to emphasize this once again - effectively, this means that a so-called curfew is being declared throughout the entire country between the hours of 21:00 and 06:00.

• Checkpoints will be set up in the cities of Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Poti, Zugdidi, and Gori in order to control the movement of individuals, to check their health status, and to ensure the fulfillment of the tightened measures under the state of emergency, as well as to provide initial thermal screening and to control the administrative borders of these cities. These measures will be carried out by the forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with the involvement of the relevant agencies of the Ministry of Defense.

• A very important point: Every citizen must carry their identity documents while moving within the city at any time," the prime minister of Georgia stated.

Press Service of the Government Administration

The United States is providing $1.1 million in health funding to Georgia to help prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, bolster risk communication, and more. This information was reported by the administration of the US Embassy in Georgia.

For information a total number of people worldwide infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has reached 720,100, according to Johns Hopkins University. 33 550 people died from the virus and 150 734 recovered.

Top 5 virus-hit countries include United States (139,675), Italy (97,689), China (82,122), Spain (80,031) and Germany (62,095).

On March 11 World Health Organization(WHO) declared COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

 

COVID-19 cases in Georgia reach 97

Published in Health
Monday, 30 March 2020 11:09

The number of cases of coronavirus infection has increased to 97 in Georgia, the government-run special website stopcov.ge reports.

There are 4 876 people in quarantine and 264 in inpatient care. 18 out of 97 people have already recovered.

For information, the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Russia rose by 228 in the past 24 hours to 1,264, according to the Russian media reports. The cases are reported from 62 regions of Russia, while Moscow identified 114 more cases. Moreover, 49 people have currently recovered, the Russian headquarters for prevention of the coronavirus spread said Saturday.

"Overall, Russia has now 1,264 coronavirus cases across 62 regions. In the past 24 hours, four people recovered and were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recoveries to 49 over the whole period," the headquarters’ statement reads.

Russia’s coronavirus death toll rose to 4.

A total number of people worldwide infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has reached 720,100, according to Johns Hopkins University. 33 550 people died from the virus and 150 734 recovered.

Top 5 virus-hit countries include United States (139,675), Italy (97,689), China (82,122), Spain (80,031) and Germany (62,095).

On March 11 World Health Organization(WHO) declared COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

 

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