Statement by Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki, the UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus

Despite strong efforts by the Government of Belarus and international partners, the country is now experiencing a larger COVID-19 outbreak, characterized by sustained and pervasive local transmission.

On Sunday, 26 April, the Ministry of Health confirmed over 10,000 cases of COVID-19 infections in Belarus.*  This number is going up exponentially – remember, on 26 March it was only 86 cases.

In addition to the strong response of the health, epidemiological structures and the Government, supported by heroic efforts of medical workers, now it is time for urgent and comprehensive implementation of physical distancing measures.

WHO recommends physical distancing and postponing all large gatherings of people.  WHO also recommends introducing options for telework, distance learning and suspending the operation of all non-essential workplaces, businesses and economic enterprises including retail stores, markets, restaurants and cafes.  WHO recommends also reducing non-essential movements, especially for high risk groups and vulnerable patients, travel between cities towns and villages, including trips to a dacha.

Community-wide public health measures that prioritize physical distancing can help prevent and slow down the spread of the virus, allowing health care facilities the opportunity to equip themselves with the appropriate capacity, including health care workers, beds, isolation wards, intensive care units and protective equipment to respond to the anticipated increased caseload.

Working as one, the UN agencies, funds and programmes of the UN Development System in Belarus are responding to the needs expressed by the Ministry of Health of Belarus and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection as well as our partners in the Belarus Red Cross Society and a range of other institutions and organisations that are confronting COVID-19 on the front lines and provide care and support to the most vulnerable people.

For all of us the picture is clear – COVID-19 attacks countries and people as a ruthless killer.  Even if you are young and strong, you can die from it.  You may not know you have it, yet still you are spreading the infection.

Nothing is more precious than life. 

Nothing is more painful than its loss among family, friends, co-workers and members of our broader human community. 

Please STAY HOME TO STOP COVID.  This will help the medics, businesses and essential workers to do their job and tackle the crisis. 

* As of April 28, 12,208 people were registered in Belarus with a positive test for COVID-19.