On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the epidemic outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as pandemic. The term pandemic does not alter the WHO’s recommendations and threats emanating from the virus. The WHO believes this is a pandemic that can be controlled.

According to the WHO’s information, in the last two weeks confirmed cases of COVID-10 increased by a factor of 13 whilst the number of countries with confirmed cases has trebled. The scale of the virus outbreak has led to the declaration of a pandemic. In accordance with international health rules, a pandemic is the highest level of alert. A pandemic is when a new infectious disease is spreading rapidly across the globe. During a pandemic, there is an epidemic in multiple countries or/and continents. [1]

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was first identified in 2019 in China’s Hubei province and started to spread rapidly. According to the latest data, coronavirus cases have been confirmed in 139 countries whilst the number of infected persons is over 145,000. Currently, the death toll from the coronavirus amounts to 5,429. The first case of the coronavirus in Georgia was confirmed on 26 February 2020. As of today, there are 30 confirmed cases in Georgia.

According to the WHO’s forecast, the number of infections, deaths and countries with confirmed cases will increase further in the upcoming days. However, every country is able to change the flow of the pandemic. The WHO calls for every country to take stricter measures to fight the coronavirus.

What has Changed in Georgia Since the Declaration of the Pandemic?

After the declaration of the pandemic in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, it was officially reported that all the bodies of the Government of Georgia have switched to a special 24/7 working mode. On 12 March 2020, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia recommended public and private institutions start working remotely. On the same day, the Ministry of Internal Affairs was put in chargeto monitor the rules of self-isolation. Those citizens, who breach the self-isolation rules, are quarantined forcibly. Since 12 March 2020, passengers coming from Germany, France, Spain and Austria after mandatory testing at Georgia’s border are subject to mandatory quarantine or self-isolation. Previously, only passengers coming from China, Iran, Italy and South Korea were subjected to the mandatory quarantine or self-isolation. The authorities unveiled a Six-Point Action Plan to alleviate the negative impact on the economy from the coronavirus.

Prior the declaration of the pandemic, the Interagency Coordination Council led by the Prime Minister of Georgia recommended the cancelation of mass events at places of public gathering on 1 March 2020. It was decided to close schools, kindergartens and universities. In addition, the spring draft for military conscripts was also postponed. Local authorities started to disinfect public transport daily with disinfection means.

What Should We Expect?

The Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia states that the country was ready for the pandemic. The healthcare system is getting prepared for three possible scenarios. As stated by the Minister, according to the first scenario there will be a few confirmed cases. According to the second scenario, the number of infected persons could be several hundreds and this process could span to 12 weeks. The third and the most difficult scenario implies having 400 patients in severe conditions.

Amiran Gamkrelidze, Director of the National Centre for Disease Control, stated: “All three scenarios of how the process could develop are based simultaneously on the experience of different countries and instruments provided by the US Centre for Disease Control. These instruments have been tested during the influenza pandemic. There are these three scenarios and which scenario will unfold – how many hospital beds will be needed for mild, several or critical patients, how many doctors, artificial respiration devices and when it will peak if such an epidemic does erupt in the country. There is readiness for such scenarios.”

1.The last time a pandemic was declared was in spring 2009 during the epidemic outbreak of the Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 (the so-called “Swine Flu”). The virus was initially identified in the USA and rapidly spread throughout the world. This virus claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and it circulates across the globe as a seasonal flu.