The epidemiological situation in Georgia continues to shock. Given the extremely low vaccination rate against this background, the Georgian government this week decided to introduce the ‘Green Passport’ concept from December 1, which means that unvaccinated citizens and those without proof of corona-free status will not be allowed to enter various facilities.
The government administration published a list of facilities where citizens will be able to enter only with a “green passport” from December 1.
“Green” status is granted to those fully vaccinated, those who have passed a 72-hour-validity PCR or 24-hour-validity antigen test, and those who have recovered from coronavirus. From December 1, Green Passports will be required of all citizens over 18.
“On the Coordination Council’s decision, ‘Green Passport only’ admission will apply from December 1 to the following: eateries, restaurants, cafes and bars (both outdoor and indoor), cinemas, theaters, opera houses, museums, concert halls, entertainment centers, casinos and gambling sites, spa centers, fitness clubs, hotels, and aerial lifts in winter resorts. Said requirement also applies to guests of the listed facilities. In entertainment centers for children, Green Passports are mandatory for all citizens aged over 18.”
Further, on the Prime Minister’s instructions, the immunization campaign is to be bolstered, and vaccination promotion activities will be held in every municipality of Georgia.
“The Interagency Coordination Council once again urges citizens to become actively engaged in the process of vaccination, wear facemasks, maintain social distancing, and protect their own and their loved ones’ health,” a statement read this week.
Covid Passports can be received from justice houses and service centers, free of charge and without booking a visit. In order for citizens to be able to get a Green Passport, a special application covidpass.moh.gov.ge has been launched, which can be downloaded from smartphones and is connected to the databases of the Center for Disease Control. Those who do not have a smartphone can get a paper passport at the House of Justice.
“Covid passports will be of little use to the rural population,” said Amiran Gamrelidze, head of the National Center for Disease Control. “I do not think the rural population goes to restaurants and entertainment centers, where we have established this requirement. But I think the incentive mechanism we have for the elderly will work well for the rural population.”
To stimulate the vaccination process, the Coordination Council also ruled this week that each pensioner who is vaccinated with even one dose before January 1 will receive a one-time pension supplement of GEL 200.
“The supplement will be issued after the first vaccination, on December 1,” said Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.
In addition, this week, the Immunization Council permitted the vaccination of children aged 12-15 with Pfizer.
“Based on the decision of the Immunization Council, it is now possible to vaccinate children aged 12-15 with Pfizer,” Deputy Minister of Health Tamar Gabunia told journalists.
“The council supported the vaccination process in the age group of 12 to 15 years, with two doses of Pfizer vaccine, with the consent of a parent, which is a necessary requirement in case of medical intervention for a minor.
“Accordingly, children between the ages of 12 and 15 can go to vaccination centers and get a dose of Pfizer,” Gabunia added.
She noted that the rate of infection in children is not high, but their vaccination is important.
Until now, only citizens over 16 could be vaccinated with Pfizer in Georgia.
NCDC Head Amiran Gamkrelidze further announced that Georgia is working to get a drug to treat coronavirus.
“Many drugs are in different research phases today. Merck and Pfizer were the first to complete the third phase of research. They will appear on the market soon. We confirm that Georgia is working to get these drugs,” he said.
He pointed out that these are the two most advanced drugs available. Britain was first to approve the Merck drug, and Pfizer will soon be approved by the US’ Food and Drug Administration. Both are drugs that work by different mechanisms but both directly affect coronavirus, which works with the same mechanism as the flu drug Tamiflu.
“If you take it at the beginning when the virus is confirmed, within 5 days, then the effect is very high. It reduces further complications, and mortality of the disease, complications from about 80% to 90%,” Gamkrelidze said.
This week’s COVID statistics are particularly alarming in terms of fatalities.
The latest data is as follows:
2191 coronavirus cases, 4348 recoveries, and 74 deaths on Monday;
6021 coronavirus cases, 3792 recoveries, and 75 deaths on Tuesday;
5751 coronavirus cases, 3647 recoveries, and 78 deaths on Wednesday;
4563 coronavirus cases, 4744 recoveries, and 77 deaths on Thursday.
A total of 771,381 cases of coronavirus infection have been identified in Georgia, of which 705,312 have recovered and 10,739 have died.
A total of 2,025,471 vaccinations have been given so far.
The Cases Worldwide
The World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting that coronavirus deaths rose by 10% in Europe in the past week, making it the only world region where both Covid-19 cases and deaths are steadily increasing, reported the Associated Press. It was the sixth consecutive week that the virus has risen across the continent.
The countries with the highest numbers of new cases worldwide were the United States, Russia, Britain, Turkey and Germany. The number of weekly Covid-19 deaths fell by about 4% worldwide and declined in every region except Europe.
In the Americas, WHO said that new weekly cases fell by 5% and deaths declined by 14%, with the highest numbers reported from the United States.
The United States on Monday ended a pandemic travel ban that was in place for more than a year and a half. The ban, put in place by then-President Donald Trump in early 2020 and later expanded by President Joe Biden early this year, prohibited visitors from 33 countries, including the UK, much of Europe, China, Brazil and South Africa.
Now, visitors can fly into the US with proof of full Covid-19 vaccination and a recent negative Covid test, though there are exemptions for travelers under age 18 and passengers from countries with low vaccination availability.
In Southeast Asia and Africa, Covid-19 deaths declined by about a third, despite the lack of vaccines in those regions.
WHO’s Europe director, Dr. Hans Kluge, said last week that Europe was once again “back at the epicenter of the pandemic.” He warned that if more actions weren’t taken to stop Covid-19, the region could see another 500,000 deaths by February.
By Ana Dumbadze