BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 7
The first modular hospital complex has opened in Baku.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva attended the inauguration of the complex.
The head of state and first lady were informed of the conditions created at the modular hospital complex.
The construction and installation of the first modular hospital complex was completed within three weeks. The complex, which covers an area of 3,000 square meters, will operate under the Clinical Medical Center No 1. The 200-bed modular hospital consists of three blocks and has 100 wards. All conditions were created here to treat infectious patients with moderate-to-severe symptoms.
After viewing the complex, the head of state and first lady met with health workers.
The head of state made a speech at the meeting.
Speech of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- We are marking the opening of a new hospital of a modular type. This is a very significant event. The opening of any hospital is a significant event. If we consider the fact that more than 700 healthcare facilities have been built or refurbished in our country over the past 16 years, it is easy to imagine the scope of what has been done. We believe that the already existing hospitals, especially the modern ones, will provide our needs for many years. However, the coronavirus pandemic certainly dictates its own rules, so the construction of new hospitals is inevitable. Of course, the construction of hospitals takes a lot of time – design work, the technical side, the choice of location. I believe that by giving preference to new technologies, we made the right choice, of course – we ensured the construction of modular hospitals which can be quickly assembled, disassembled and moved to another place. I recently informed the public about this, and today we are celebrating the opening of such a hospital. In a matter of one month, a hospital with 200 beds has been commissioned.
Of course, this hospital and the hospitals that will be built in the future will play a major role in the fight against coronavirus. There are plans to build 10 such hospitals in various regions of our country. Of course, the increase in the number of beds plays a special role in the fight against coronavirus for each country.
Currently, we see the experience of some developed countries. We see that due to the lack of beds, patients cannot receive treatment in a timely manner there. Many people infected with coronavirus are not hospitalized at all and stay at home. Of course, it is impossible to treat them and monitor their condition at home.
I believe that our experience in the fight against coronavirus in Azerbaijan is the most progressive and humane because all our patients are placed in hospitals where doctors take care of them day and night. The construction of new hospitals, of course, is designed for the future because the hospitals available now provide for our needs. More than 20 state hospitals, including the newest and most modern “Yeni klinika” hospital with 575 beds, have been made available for the treatment of coronavirus patients. Patients undergo treatment there now. This is the right step for the future because no-one knows how long the pandemic will last. No-one knows its further stages. Therefore, we must be fully prepared.
All the steps we have taken are preventive in nature. The commissioning of this hospital and another nine similar hospitals is scheduled to take place in the next one to two months. All these steps have been anticipatory, which is why I think we have managed to win the first stage of the fight against coronavirus. But the fight continues, the coronavirus has not disappeared anywhere, it wanders and will continue to wander, so everyone should know this.
Great success has been achieved in the field of testing today. Azerbaijan is in one of the leading places on a global scale for the number of tests per capita. To do the testing, new laboratories have been acquired. Their number has now reached 23 and the creation of new laboratories is on the agenda.
All necessary medical equipment is being purchased. As you know, 100 million manats were allocated from the President’s Contingency Fund for the acquisition of medical equipment, supplies and proper organization of work. This is the first tranche and an additional 150 million manats is already in a state of readiness. If necessary, we will use that as well. Of course, all these comprehensive measures – testing, the operation of hospitals, laboratories, the professionalism of doctors and the proper organization of work - have allowed us, as we wanted, the opportunity to come out of this situation with small losses. The death of each person is a great tragedy for their loved ones, relatives. The life of each person is very valuable to us. But cognition comes through comparison, and when we see that hundreds of people, sometimes even more than a thousand people die in developed countries, then, of course, we see that the work done in this area in Azerbaijan is of particular importance, and everyone sees that. Even in countries with similar population figures as ours, hundreds of people have been dying every day for a long time. The healthcare of these countries has always been cited as an example throughout the world, including for us. However, during this period, everyone saw that the situation there had reached a critical point. Therefore, of course, if we compare the work done by the Azerbaijani state, it has a significant advantage. We are paying special attention to keeping the situation under control, and at the first stage we succeeded in doing that. Therefore, the adoption of comprehensive measures, including the gradual introduction of a quarantine regime in accordance with the situation, its tightening and recent relaxation are all balanced steps.
Why has the quarantine regime tightened? In order to prevent the spread of the infection, and we did achieve that. At the initial stage, this virus, if I may say so, was imported to Azerbaijan, but then cases of internal infection began to occur. Operational measures were taken immediately and it was thanks to the strict quarantine rules that we completed this stage with minimum losses. On seeing that the number of people those recovering significantly exceeds the number of those infected every day for three weeks, we began to take mitigating measures. Unfortunately, some people perceived this as the removal of the quarantine regime. Unfortunately, some people do not comply with the quarantine regime. Mitigation measures pursued only one goal: to restore the customary way of life to some extent. The mitigation of the quarantine regime does not mean the end of the quarantine regime. No. The quarantine regime will be in place until at least 31 May, after which it may be extended if necessary. Therefore, frankly speaking, the picture of recent days frustrates and worries me because in the last two to three days the number of infected people exceeds the number of those recovering, and if this trend increases sharply – I want to say this openly for everyone to know – we will have to bring the quarantine regime to its previous state, tighten it and take stricter punitive measures in relation to those violating order, so that we can constantly keep the situation under control.
The policy of the Azerbaijan state and the day-to-day management of the Task Force of this work pursue one key goal: protect the life and health of our citizens and, within the framework of the restrictive regime, create maximum opportunities for people so that they do not move too far away from their usual way of life. Therefore, we took mitigating measures. On 27 April and then from 4 May, a milder regime was introduced. But what do we see? We see that some irresponsible people don’t comply with any rules, don’t wear masks, don’t mind their distance, act as if the virus has already been defeated. This should not be allowed under any circumstances. Therefore, strict measures will be taken against such people. Let everyone know this and make the right conclusions. We cannot allow some irresponsible citizens to endanger people's lives. This is absolutely impossible!
Therefore, it seems as though a new stage of the pandemic is beginning in some regions of our country today, in particular in Ganja. We must treat this very seriously. This is why the current quarantine regime provides for special rules for Baku, Sumgayit, Absheron, Ganja, Lankaran. Why? Because there are more patients and cases of infection in these places and cities. In recent days, it is possible to say that 30, 40 or 50 percent of those infected were in the city of Ganja. Therefore, the situation there should be the cause for concern. We are currently clarifying what the reason for this is. The main reason is the failure to take timely measures by people and leaders. Where timely measures are taken and the adopted rules are implemented, the situation is under control. We will tighten control. Therefore, the tightening of measures in relation to the quarantine regime is not ruled out. I want to say again that we won the first stage of the fight against the virus. But the virus has not disappeared, it wanders and will continue to wander here. Doctors and specialists know this very well, and I would like our people to know this. Awareness work should be expanded. Some people believe that the virus is not there more, the whole world is in crisis but in Azerbaijan, as if on an island at sea, everything is and will be good. Of course, the situation in comparison with many countries is good, but we can’t say that it is absolutely good.
Of course, people need to maintain personal hygiene. I believe that this will be a kind of new reality for a long time and we must come to terms with it whether we want it or not. Wearing a mask, keeping a distance, washing your hands with soap several times a day, using disinfectants – all should be the rule. You know, sometimes we compare ourselves with several countries and say – I am also saying this today – that the situation in many developed countries is deplorable, critical. Unlike Azerbaijan, these countries do not know how to deal with the crisis. But, on the other hand, we see that in these countries, developed countries, countries where responsibility and discipline are at a high level, people keep a distance. We see on TV that people in queues keep a distance of one and a half to two meters and wear masks. Do we have people keeping distance? Watch any TV channel. I saw yesterday: people stand in front of a bank close to each other and there are no masks. Correspondents ask them why, but they, like schoolchildren, provide thousands of reasons – I forgot, I do not need a mask in the open air, I have it in my pocket. We cannot tolerate such an attitude. This is no joke. Everyone should take this very seriously. Severe penalties will be applied in relation to such people. I am telling all relevant authorities today: tighten the penalties. We must protect citizens. We cannot allow our citizens to get sick or die because of some discipline violator and irresponsible person. Therefore, everyone must abide by these rules, from now on and for a long time.
Doctors and specialists are well aware of this and the general public should know this as well – the fight against coronavirus will end when the vaccine is developed. The whole world is waiting for this vaccine today. Scientists in many countries are working to develop it. After the vaccine is developed we will be able to say that we can protect ourselves from this virus. Until that time, the virus will be there and let everyone know this.
Therefore, I believe that as a result of all the comprehensive measures, responsibility of citizens and discipline we will be able to keep the situation under control because the issue here depends not only on the activities of state bodies. State bodies, civil society, citizens – all of us must work towards one goal. We have solidarity and show unity. One of the manifestations of solidarity is that the state, the private sector, entrepreneurs and ordinary individuals help and provide assistance to the poor, provide them with food. They make donations into the Fund to Support Fight against Coronavirus set up on my initiative. The Fund has already accumulated more than 100 million manats. All this testifies to the highest qualities of our people – mercy, attention to the poor, desire to help, unity, solidarity. But it is also necessary to show responsibility and discipline. We are still talking about this in the form of an appeal but, if necessary, this will be enforced.
Doctors are risking their lives and health, the health of their loved ones. They take care of the sick around the clock. We highly appreciate the dedication of doctors. The people of Azerbaijan have once again become convinced that in the most difficult time, during the pandemic, doctors are the leading people, the people who protect people’s lives. Of course, along with all other factors, the state is taking the necessary measures. But at the end of the day, it is the doctors who treat patients and bring them back to life. Doctors work day and night to save people. All patients who have got rid of this disease should first of all be grateful to the doctors. Our police officers, employees of the internal troops are on the streets day and night, risking their lives and trying to reason people. We must appreciate their work. Why should anyone want some special privileges? I must note in this regard that the pandemic has shown the whole world: everyone is equal before this disease. No-one has or will have any privileges. This is one of the main components of our policy – the rule of law and equality must be always ensured. Therefore, no privileges will be granted to anyone. Strict punitive measures are being taken in relation to those who violate the quarantine regime, who want to spend time in some public catering facilities, including senior officials. Some of them have already been punished for violating the quarantine regime.
At the same time, unfortunately, we see the true colors of national traitors in this situation. Those who set their eyes on the property and the food ration of the poor are traitors. There is no other name for that. This is not a theft, not some petty crime. How can one describe the actions of officials trying to appropriate the food rations sent by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation? Only as betrayal. I have already said this but want to say again: many call the pandemic a war. In fact, it is a war. How can one describe these people in this situation? Therefore, they will inevitably be punished. In addition, to embezzle the wages, especially those of the poor, the payment cards of those involved in community service, withdrawing their money in the current circumstances is also a betrayal. All five heads of the executive authority arrested recently are accused of these abominable acts. Recent arrests also testify to this. Hundreds of payment cards were found in the offices of these heads of executive authority, their relatives and assistants. Hundreds! I am told that 140 payment cards were found in the office of the head of the executive authority who was last to be arrested. What it this? We give these cards to those who cannot find a job. We gave them earlier too. Every year we engaged 30,000, 40,000 of such people in public work – painting a building, landscaping a garden and other work. They received a salary at the level of the minimum wage, which is 250 manats today. But the cards due to them are appropriated by the heads of the executive authority and then this money is appropriated. And poor people are left without work and money. Is this a petty crime? No! This is betrayal. There is no other name for that. They continued doing this in the current conditions. These people have no conscience, they have lost it completely. We will continue to mercilessly fight such elements. Today, all the healthy forces of our society have rallied around one goal: to come out of this situation with small losses, to save people, to cure the sick. We must take care of the doctors so that they could take care of our people and themselves. Therefore, such dirty acts in the current situation are completely unacceptable. I want to say again: those who take such steps and commit such crimes will receive a deserved punishment.
I can also say that our economy is also suffering from the pandemic, of course. It is possible that the results of the second quarter will not be very reassuring. But this is a secondary issue. The primary issue is the health of our citizens. We know that if we tighten the quarantine regime for the reasons I have mentioned, this will have a very negative effect on our economic situation. But we will go for it because the health and social well-being of our people are in the first place. For this purpose, 3.5 billion manats were allocated. The state pays a significant part of the salaries of about 700,000 people who lost their jobs in the areas worst affected by the pandemic. To this end, 600,000 unemployed, low-income and unofficially employed people are provided with material assistance by the state. We are doing all this work in order to keep the social and material situation of citizens stable. Of course, all these steps are also being evaluated by the international community. I have already said this but I want to say again that the World Health Organization appreciates the measures taken in Azerbaijan in the field of combating the pandemic and describes us as an exemplary country. This is really the case. We are taking all necessary measures in Azerbaijan, first of all domestically. At the same time, we are speaking our word on the international plane. I can say that we have provided assistance to more than 10 countries. We sent technical and financial assistance, airplanes, transport airplanes to countries that asked us for help, countries with limited financial capabilities which had no-one else to turn to, let’s put it that way. We have assisted more than 10 countries, and I believe that we did the right thing. Because it is on such days and at such a time that the true face of both people and countries is manifested. In a good situation, everyone is friends with everyone. Everyone says nice words, speaks at international events, discusses mutual support, but this must be shown in practice. In practice. We are the country that has demonstrated this in practice. In the global fight against the pandemic, we were one of the first countries to donate $5 million to the World Health Organization. Recently, as the country chairing the Non-Aligned Movement, we donated an additional $5 million to the World Health Organization so that, in agreement with us, assistance was provided to member countries of the movement. As you know, two summits were held on my initiative – the Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States and the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. Azerbaijan currently chairs both these organizations. This initiative was timely and appropriate. We can say that the whole world community welcomes this and acknowledges the role of Azerbaijan.
We didn’t have to do that. Would anyone blame us for that? No! Who could blame us for not putting forward this initiative in such a difficult time? But we did this because we are a responsible country and a reliable partner. The Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States was the first summit in an online format on a global scale. And the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement brought together 120 countries. I should note that UN Secretary General Guterres, the President of the UN General Assembly, the Chairman of the African Union and the Vice President of the European Commission sent greetings to the Summit. I must also say that, as far as I know, there were no serious contacts between the Non-Aligned Movement and the European Union because these two institutions are at different poles and their views often don’t coincide. Therefore, this was also the first time. If we take the number of countries, we can see that 120 members are united in the Non-Aligned Movement, 27 in the European Union, which makes up 147, and there are 55 members in the African Union. True, some of them are members of the Non-Aligned Movement too. Despite this, the absolute majority of the world has, on the initiative of Azerbaijan, formed a single platform against COVID-19. I can say quite frankly – not for boasting but simply to voice the truth – that Azerbaijan unites the world. First, on a national basis, i.e. all work and the measures carried out on the territory of the country are exemplary. In terms of the per capita spending, the socioeconomic package we have initiated is perhaps among the first in the world. Azerbaijan acts as a responsible participant on the international plane. Again, in proportion to the gross domestic product, there is no country that would make such a donation as us. True, some countries have declared large figures but where are these funds? They are not there. We provided cash. Initiatives put forward within the framework of international organizations are also appreciated and endorsed by the international community. In this difficult time, it is possible to see the true face of everyone. Who is capable of what, who and how controls the country, who does what against the crisis, who was able to mobilize people, society and who simply remains dependent on external assistance and asks for outside help. So we have once again shown ourselves, our people and the whole world that we are a dignified country. National interests are a priority for us. And people's health takes priority among national interests.
Today's opening ceremony is of great importance. First, because after the commissioning of 10 hospitals, we will have an additional 2,000 beds. But most importantly, it shows that having mobilized all the resources in a short time we, we were able to achieve great results.
Of course, I would like to once again note the activities of doctors. They have indeed shown great dedication and heroism. I wish you continued success. But I also want to ask you to take care of yourself, don’t come down, always live on and create as patriots, professionals and people who love others and provide medical services to citizens. Thank you!