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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

Briefing topic: On measures to combat COVID-19.

Government House, Moscow

Briefing by Tatyana Golikova and Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev

Question: Today the Government submitted to the State Duma bills on the use of QR codes in public places and on some types of transport.

Tatyana Alekseevna, please tell us about the proposed changes and when they will take effect.

T. Golikova: Before moving on to the bills that the Government of the Russian Federation has submitted, I would like to say a few words about the reasons for the preparation of these bills.

As you know, the situation with the development of a pandemic of a new coronavirus infection in the Russian Federation is rather complicated. Last week we had a non-working week. In a number of regions of the country, non-working days were announced earlier in order to reduce the tension on the spread of coronavirus infection and break the chains.

There are definite results. The rate of spread of the disease has decreased. But still, at the end of the 44th week, we observe growth in 61 regions of the country, and the prevalence is quite high – 191 units per 100 thousand population. At the same time, I want to note that the prevalence of the disease among the elderly population is even higher today – 254 units per 100 thousand population.

Unfortunately, there are not so many regions that demonstrate a slight decrease in the incidence rate: at the end of the 44th week, there are only six of them.

In addition, I would like to draw your attention to the serious tension with which the medical network, doctors and other medical personnel are working.

To date, the Russian Federation employs 301.5 thousand beds for covid purposes. This is even slightly more than the peak incidence that we saw the last time. Then there were about 290 thousand beds, now, as I said, there are 301.5 thousand beds.

If we correlate the parameters of this number of beds with the number of beds deployed as of December 31, 2020, including covid beds, then the total percentage of beds that are currently working in covid is 29%. This is a very high voltage.

Of the total number of medical personnel, 16% are employed in providing care to patients with covid. And 12% of the nursing staff from all personnel in the Russian Federation.

I would also like to draw your attention to the absolutely alarming death rates of the population from covid. In the last month and in the last days, we have seen very high operational numbers every day – more than a thousand people who die from covid every day.

And the reason lies in the fact that, unfortunately, our citizens do not comply with restrictive measures, do not take preventive measures, which primarily include vaccination of the population. We have repeatedly called and continue to call to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Unfortunately, we see that the majority of citizens who end up in intensive care and whose disease outcome is often fatal were not vaccinated. These are mainly senior citizens. Unfortunately, there are also young people, but the majority of elderly citizens, after 60 years old, who are burdened with serious cardiovascular, endocrine diseases and a number of others. But this is impossible to put up with. These are our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, relatives and friends. I think that almost every family has such losses and, unfortunately, these losses are related to our behavior. With our unwillingness to do what we have to do: just go and get vaccinated.

Today, as I said, we are recording quite serious mortality rates. For nine months of 2021 (January – September, these are the data for which we have official statistics), of the total excess mortality, 91.2% are accounted for by covid. That is, today we can safely say that this seriously affects not only the loss of our relatives and friends, but also the general demographic situation in Russia. And I think that all of you and I proceed from the fact that the most precious thing that exists is human life and it must be preserved.

And it’s a pity that one of us is guided by the principle that the neighbor will graft on, and carry me along. Perhaps at the expense of it, the same collective immunity will be formed, the level of which we should achieve, and should have achieved a long time ago – 80% of the adult population of Russia. Unfortunately, today we are only approaching the figure of 50, and this figure is added up taking into account those who have recovered, and who were vaccinated, and who have already been revaccinated, who have chosen this path.

As you know, the President declared non-working days in Russia. They are mostly over, only five regions have extended them for this week. And, as I said at the beginning, we see that the rate of increase in the incidence has decreased, and this is very important. It is important to maintain this positive trend and not lose these achievements, therefore, after consulting with the governors, consulting with experts (various kinds of experts who deal not only with covid), understanding the consequences of this disease, with which we have been living for almost two years, we came to the conclusion , which, in fact, is implemented in those two bills that the Government of the Russian Federation has submitted to the State Duma today.

What is the essence of the bills? I will dwell on the first of them, which concerns amendments to the Federal Law “On the Sanitary and Epidemiological Welfare of the Population.” You know that in accordance with the presidential decree last year, the powers to introduce restrictive measures in connection with the epidemiological situation in a particular region were transferred to the heads of the regions. But taking into account how the situation is developing, we came to the conclusion that it is necessary that at the federal level, at the level of the law, it is clearly stated that all heads of the highest executive bodies of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation must adopt unambiguous, understandable to the population rules for using restrictive measures on territory of a particular region. We are talking about visiting mass and other events, cultural organizations, catering, retail and a number of others, which are located on the territory of a particular subject.

We proceed from the fact that the rules for visiting events and relevant objects should contain a requirement for the need for appropriate documentation, in the presence of which a citizen can attend mass events and objects. It is important to say that the need to present such documents will not be needed for organizations that provide the population with food, essential goods, and pharmacy organizations. At the same time, of course, when visiting organizations where the presentation of any documentation is not required, citizens will have to observe the mask and glove regime.

What documents are we talking about? We are talking, in fact, about an extract from the certificate of a vaccinated citizen, a uniform form of which was approved by the Ministry of Health this week and came into force. Now the certificate of the vaccinated contains three positions – this is vaccination or revaccination, a past illness or a medical withdrawal.

Citizens need to be given the necessary time to vaccinate and draw up the necessary documents for those who do not have them, therefore the law establishes a transitional period and the full use of certificates with all components will enter into force on February 1, 2022.

At the same time, I want to draw your attention to the fact that until February 1, 2022, if a citizen does not have a document in which vaccination, the fact of illness or medical removal is noted, then he has the right to visit facilities using the already well-known PCR test if it is negative …

I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that the documents that were previously issued continue to be valid until March 1, 2022. Basically, we are talking about those documents that were issued on paper – they continue to be valid.

Everything related to automated data processing, everything related to information that is stored on the Unified Portal of Public Services – for citizens, all changes will be made within these terms, which I have indicated, automatically.

Tatyana Golikova at a briefing with the Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev

What’s important? Not all citizens today have electronic certificates and smartphones. Therefore, we have proposed the following mechanism for obtaining these documents. As I said, any certificate is a single document. It is important that both in electronic form and in printed form it contains a QR code, that is, protection against counterfeiting. We all know that, unfortunately, recently, facts have been recorded and continue to be recorded that are associated with unscrupulous purchasers of these documents. Without disclosing any personal medical data of citizens, an extract from the QR code will be issued in multifunctional centers at the request of a citizen in cases where he is not registered on the Unified Portal of Public Services or lives in a remote area. He will be given an extract from the certificate, which will indicate the last name, first name, patronymic, QR code and two words: either the certificate is valid or invalid. In addition, a citizen, when vaccinated in the same medical institution, can receive a medical certificate, but without a QR code that he has been vaccinated, in order to present this document to any other medical organization.

For military personnel and persons equated to them, the law establishes a special procedure for the validity of medical documentation and its presentation, but the terms are set exactly those that are established for the civilian population.

Also, the bill involves the regulation of visits to objects or events by foreign citizens. To date, in accordance with the draft law, practically nothing happens in relation to them.

As before, foreign citizens visit facilities and events, presenting a negative PCR test. At the same time, of course, upon receipt of a PCR test, in order to verify its authenticity, the data is transferred to the Unified Portal of Public Services.

A special position is noted on the need for organizations to comply with any organizational and legal form of the deadlines for submitting information about the resulting PCR test result to the information system. Unfortunately, today we are faced with the fact that not all organizations transmit this data and citizens receive the results of the PCR test after a fairly long time.

In order to avoid these violations, the law establishes a norm according to which, within 24 hours, a medical organization carrying out PCR testing, with the voluntary consent of a citizen (this is important), transfers data to information systems in order to check for a negative result. And in general, of course, this is important for observing the rights of citizens and the deadlines that laboratories must comply with in accordance with the decisions of the sanitary and epidemiological service.

For territorial bodies of federal institutions, the regulation of the procedure for visiting these institutions is carried out (or will be implemented) by the Government of the Russian Federation.

I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that the responsibility for the safety of data, for their presence in the personal account on the Unified Portal of Public Services, is borne by the federal body that carries out the functions of legal regulation in the field of information technology, that is, the Ministry of Digital Science.

And one more point to which you should pay attention. You know that today, in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation on sanitary and epidemiological welfare, the chief sanitary doctors of the regions and the sanitary doctor of Russia have special powers during the spread of an epidemic or pandemic. In accordance with the new bill, the chief sanitary doctors of the regions are endowed with one more authority: they provide information about the situation to the governor of the corresponding region and also recommendations for responding to the situation. If the governor does not agree with these proposals, then he must promptly submit a reasoned opinion on why he does not agree with these proposals. If such a situation develops, then the Chief Sanitary Doctor of Russia should take response measures.

There are a number of other points that are reflected in this bill, but I would like to draw your attention to the following. The bill is urgent and is valid until June 1, 2022. Why until June 1, 2022? Because we expect that we will still be able to achieve the indicators of herd immunity, which we have established for ourselves as criteria: 80% of the adult population. Although I want to emphasize that countries that already have experience of large-scale vaccination of their populations are raising this bar to 90–95% in order to defeat the spread of the pandemic.

Reaching 80%, taking into account how vaccination is going on today, and, I really hope, compliance with the restrictive measures that will be introduced in the regions of our country in accordance with this bill, will give us the opportunity to form these indicators during this period. and no longer allow the level of spread of the pandemic that we are seeing now.

Question: Tatyana Alekseevna, will these changes, these measures affect children and adolescents?

T. Golikova: No, the law in no way affects children and adolescents. You know that the Russian Federation has not yet made a decision on the vaccination of the child population. Vaccination starts at the age of 18. Therefore, all regulation, which is reflected here, is aimed at citizens over 18 years of age.

Question: Tatyana Alekseevna, you said that the bill contains a rule that medical organizations must transmit the results of PCR tests to the portal of state services within 24 hours. Is there any liability for violation of the deadline?

T. Golikova: This law does not provide for such responsibility. But let me remind you that medical organizations – and laboratories have the status of such organizations, since they receive a medical license – can be verified by authorized federal authorities in case of violations, and if such facts are confirmed, they may lose this license.

Question: Another very important question. For example, a child fell ill or a relative died. What should a person do if he urgently needs to fly to another region, but he does not have a QR code?

Tatyana Golikova: I want to repeat once again: this norm is not being introduced now, these norms are being introduced since February 1, and all our citizens have a full opportunity to be vaccinated during this period. Moreover, the formation of immunity is carried out within 42 days, and until February 1 there is enough time to realize this opportunity.

Question: Vitaly Gennadievich, the bill on the use of QR codes in transport concerns only interregional and international air and rail transportation. Why was this decision made?

Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev at a briefing with Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova

V. Savelyev: The decision was made because the analysis showed the following results: from August 2020 to August 2021, 90 million people were transported by air, of which only 34 million were unique passengers, that is, 34 million passengers made 90 million flights.

In railway transport, with 84 million passengers transported (also during this period, from August to August), there are 24 million unique passengers. That is, there are only 58 million of those who traveled during this period. We asked the Ministry of Digital Science, which, through state services, gave us the opportunity to combine the systems and see how many of these 58 million passengers were vaccinated: 29.5%, that is, about 30%, this is about 18 million people. That is, out of 58 million 40 million people, Russians who travel are not vaccinated. This is shown by statistics. We must take into account, of course, that there are some who have recovered. We are working on this now. The figure will be slightly corrected, but nevertheless it is very large.

Therefore, it was decided to introduce restrictions and the presentation of documentation in accordance with the law, which Tatyana Alekseevna, 52-FZ, was now talking about: when buying tickets and boarding both an airplane and a railway carriage, special medical documentation approved by law will be presented. The start time will be determined by the Government if such laws are adopted. And then we, without waiting for this, begin to work with airlines, with our railway companies, in particular with Russian Railways. And we are working out the technology how to quickly check the medical documentation that will be presented so as not to delay passengers on boarding.

If such a decision is made, such measures will be taken on the railway and air transport. We have a lot of experience that we have gained over two years in the fight against the pandemic. Aviation is practically recovering. The passenger railroad has recovered. Therefore, I think there will be no big difficulties here.

To be continued.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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