The epidemiological situation in Georgia appears relatively stable as we welcome the new year, with the number of new cases detected daily reducing from over 3000 pre-Christmas to 1500-2000 on average this week, against a background of intensive testing. The country’s capital Tbilisi remains a hotspot in terms of the virus spread, with at least 500 newly detected cases daily.
The above decrease in new cases can be considered the result of current regulations and restrictions in force across the country. Accordingly, the government on Monday decided to further expand the period of restrictions and announced that the current COVID restrictions will be maintained until February 1.
The current restrictions clarified
Shopping malls will be allowed to open and function in compliance with the regulations from February 1, with employees having to be tested for coronavirus.
Restrictions on the operation of municipal and intercity public transport (trains, buses and minibuses), and on shops and both outdoor and indoor markets, have been extended until February 1, despite suggestions that they would be freed mid-January. Municipal and intercity traffic has been banned since November 28, 2020, with only cars and taxis allowed.
Government representatives note that they will use the period before February 1 for active meetings with representatives of the business sector to ensure safe opening in February for both transport and businesses.
Regarding the vaccination plan, on Tuesday, Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze announced that the Georgian population will be vaccinated with Pfizer “in the near future.” She made the relevant statement during a meeting with US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan.
The Minister of Health informed the American diplomat in detail about the epidemic situation in Georgia.
“We are actively cooperating with Covax and we have made some progress. Namely, in the near future, it will be possible to vaccinate the population of Georgia with Pfizer,” Tikaradze said.
During the meeting, Ambassador Degnan assessed the steps taken to contain COVID-19 in Georgia.
“We had a very useful meeting, where I received updated information about the plans of the Georgian government to manage the pandemic in 2021. It is important to have a clear vaccination plan, not only in Georgia and the United States but around the world, to ensure the safety of our community and to rebuild the economy and open schools as soon as possible,” the Ambassador stated.
To ensure the maximum safety of citizens until the vaccine is available, Tbilisi City Hall ruled that starting January 10, taxi drivers in the Georgian capital must undergo coronavirus testing every two weeks. Further, they will be obliged to carry and show the test results to patrol police when performing their duties.
Paata Imnadze, Deputy Head of the National Center for Disease Control, said this Wednesday that more than 6,000 taxi drivers have been tested for coronavirus so far, and the number of positive cases is less than 1%.
“More than 6,000 taxi drivers have been tested, and it seems that the number of cases of infection is less than 1%. The number of tests at markets has also increased: 4,000 tests have been conducted and the number of cases there is also less than 1%. Further, over 2,000 representatives of different religions have been tested and the number of cases is about 1%,” Imnadze said.
Despite the decreased numbers of newly detected cases, Health Minister Tikaradze projected a third wave of coronavirus in Georgia is expected to start in the second half of February.
“When the world is talking about a third wave, of course, Georgia can be no exception. We need to use the global experience regarding a potential third wave, not only in the preparedness component, but also in the control phase, in order to minimize the spread of infection. We need to focus on this and be more effective in infection retention. We expect a third wave to hit Georgia late February,” she said.
By Ana Dumbadze