Speech of President Ilham Aliyev
- The production of face masks begins in our country today. This is a very significant event because many countries of the world, including Azerbaijan, are currently experiencing a shortage of face masks. We always relied on imports in this area. However, in the current circumstances, local production was organized in a short time, in a matter of two weeks. Entrepreneurs have played a major role in this and the Azerbaijani state also provided financial support. Thus, a new modern production facility was created in a short period of time, and this will allow us the opportunity to substantially provide ourselves with face masks.
As you know, the use of masks in the fight against coronavirus is of particular importance. As I already noted, many countries of the world are experiencing problems in this area these days. A deficit has also arisen in Azerbaijan. In some cases, there are no face masks in pharmacies. Therefore, this production will enable us to provide ourselves and Azerbaijan will no longer depend on imports even after the fight against coronavirus is completed.
At the same time, the production of disinfectants has been organized in Azerbaijan as well. This issue was also resolved in a short time. Our advantage was that there are several distilleries in the country where disinfectant production has begun. These disinfectants are already on sale. It has been repeatedly noted that in order to wage a more effective fight against the infection, people should be more responsible and pay attention to personal hygiene. But to do that, we need resources – face masks and disinfectants, which are already on the market today.
At present, one of the key issues is that pharmacies and other retail outlets should not artificially inflate prices. The lack of masks has already led to an artificial overpricing, and sometimes masks were sold from under the counter. This should not be allowed under any circumstances and relevant state bodies need to exercise strict control. In the event of an artificial inflation of prices, those involved will be severely punished because in the current pandemic such actions will be perceived as treason.
The production of face masks and disinfectants once again shows that the infrastructure available in Azerbaijan allows us the opportunity to succeed in organizing the necessary production in a short time. It is no coincidence that this production enterprise was set up on the territory of the Chemical Industry Park in Sumgayit. This park was established on my initiative and many enterprises are already in operation here. They are making a great contribution to our non-oil economy. At the same time, the available personnel potential, the development of the class of entrepreneurs, the partnership between the public and private sectors, the continuous state support for the private sector, both political and financial, the provision of low-interest loans – all these factors have brought about a new situation when we can organize the production and supply of the necessary resources in a short period of time. I want to note again that there is a shortage of masks even in developed countries these days. The new equipment we have purchased – there are plans to supply a second line of this equipment as well – allows us the opportunity to produce a large volume, a large number of masks in an automated mode.
Therefore, today's event is of particular importance. I have taken part in the opening of hundreds, perhaps even more than a thousand industrial enterprises in recent years, but this enterprise is of particular importance because the face masks and disinfectants produced in Azerbaijan today will protect our citizens. Our main goal is to avoid infecting people, protect people’s health, and all measures are being taken to do this.
As a result of the adoption of preventive measures, the spread of coronavirus in Azerbaijan has not gained large proportions now. Hundreds of people die in developed countries every day. The health system of no country can fully organize the treatment of an ever increasing number of patients. This should serve as a lesson for us. Therefore, the adoption of preventive measures in Azerbaijan and the implementation of these actions in accordance with the situation pursue one goal: to protect the life and health of our people and prevent the spread of the disease in Azerbaijan. All measures taken so far have produced the desired effect. Suffice it to say that 45,000 tests have been carried out in Azerbaijan to date. Currently, various Internet resources indicate the number of patients, the number of deaths, as well as the tests performed. Everyone can visit these sites and see. Azerbaijan is one of the leading countries in the world where so many tests have been performed. This has helped us to identify the disease, provide patients with prompt medical assistance and protect ourselves from even greater troubles. So far we have succeeded. At the same time, the adoption of operational measures and the implementation of actions in accordance with the situation have produced effect. The new quarantine rules which entered into force on 5 April pursue one goal: to prevent the spread of the disease in Azerbaijan. This goal was also pursued by the decisions that were made prior to 5 April and the new rules. I have repeatedly said that we have demonstrated national unity, national accord, and we must also demonstrate responsibility. But in the current conditions, taking into account the rules that entered into force on 5 April, people should demonstrate discipline, because strict measures are envisaged in relation to those violating these rules. And these measures are already in place. I am sure that our citizens will fully comply with these rules, the disease will not be widespread and we will be able to overcome this situation with minimum losses.
I should also note that coronavirus patients undergo treatment in more than 20 hospitals today, including our most modern hospital, the Yeni Clinic. This clinic was opened relatively recently, at the end of March, and is designed for 575 patients. If we take into account that the clinic was commissioned ahead of schedule, its capacity to receive patients will gradually increase – 100 patients at the initial stage, then 300 and then it will begin to operate at full capacity.
Also, the hospitals I attended the opening of in the regions in early March of this year were also made available to the patients infected with coronavirus. The most modern hospitals located in the cities of Gazakh, Goranboy and Shamkir are treating patients with coronavirus. The number of beds in these three hospitals is around 500. So more than a thousand hospital beds meeting the most modern standards were put into operation in a matter of just one month, and patients infected with coronavirus are being treated there.
Taking into consideration the prompt actions of the Azerbaijani state and entrepreneurs, I also want to inform that there are plans to set up modern hospitals in Baku and a number of regions in the near future. They will be built on the basis of new technologies. These technologies make it possible to completely reconstruct a hospital in a short time, possibly within three weeks or one month. They will be built using the principle of assembly technology and fitted with the necessary equipment. The number of beds in each hospital is 200. The establishment of such hospitals in our country in a short time will, of course, provide us with additional opportunities in this fight. One of the key issues in this struggle is time. The more time we gain, the more quickly we do the work, the more success we can achieve in the fight against this disease. Therefore, the time factor and, of course, the professionalism of doctors, our capabilities, a combination of all these factors are allowing Azerbaijan the opportunity to overcome this situation with minimum losses today. However, of course, the subsequent development of events will show what our next steps will be. In any case, a strict quarantine regime will remain in effect until 20 April day. After that, we will take steps in accordance with the current situation.
I should also note that a great success was achieved as a result of operational steps taken to return the citizens of our country living and staying abroad. To date, about 15,000 Azerbaijani citizens have been evacuated from foreign countries and the vast majority of them are now in quarantine. Currently, 4500 citizens are in quarantine. The most suitable places have been allocated for that. Most of the quarantined people are in the Athletes Village. About 1,300 people are accommodated there now. At the same time, quarantined people are accommodated in Baku and in the regions in 4-5-star hotels, recreation areas and recreation centers of some government agencies. They are provided with daily meals and undergo medical examination. The vast majority of them are very pleased with the conditions created and have expressed their gratitude to the state and doctors.
In a word, faced with a serious situation, the Azerbaijani state demonstrated its strength again. It showed that our main goal is to protect the people and the state. Any steps can be taken to achieve this, and we are doing that. As a result of operational measures, we did not allow this disaster to assume large proportions in the country. But our further success will largely depend on the actions of our people. The state has done everything possible. Tight restrictive measures have been applied. People should be responsible, take care of themselves, their loved ones, family members. As we demonstrate unity and solidarity, we must also show responsibility and be disciplined.
I must also note that coronavirus has created big problems for the global economy. This is already being acknowledged by leaders of the world's senior financial institutions. The International Monetary Fund has already stated that the crisis caused by the coronavirus will be even more severe than the crisis of 2008-2009.
As far as Azerbaijan is concerned – it is possible to say that the oil price has dropped by more than in half – the coronavirus has adversely affected many sectors of the economy and the service sector. However, despite this, the problems of those working in these areas have been taken into account. The four working groups set up on my instruction have largely completed their work. I have received an update. Based on the instructions, the Cabinet of Ministers has already approved an Action Plan. The initial plan was to allocate about 1 billion manats for this purpose. However, subsequent additional calculations showed that this was not enough and at least 2.5 billion manats will be allocated so that economic stability in Azerbaijan is maintained, employment problems are resolved and our macroeconomic and financial situation remains stable.
If we take into account the areas that were most affected by the coronavirus, as well as the people engaged in private entrepreneurship, 600,000 people suffer from this situation the most because their jobs have been closed. Everyone already knows about my appeal, my unequivocal demand to entrepreneurs: no staff cuts should be made in this period. However, we must create opportunities for entrepreneurs so that they are not affected. A total of 600,000 workers, including private entrepreneurs, will be financed at the expense of the state in Azerbaijan. The state has taken on a significant part of their wages and these payments are already beginning. The problems of students and the amount of unemployment benefits – all this is being taken into account. It is for this that 2.5 billion manats are provided. This is a huge figure. I want to say again that our oil revenues have declined, but the health, safety, comfort and well-being of our people are above everything for us. We are demonstrating this again. Turning to all the people of Azerbaijan, I want to say again: be responsible, do not violate discipline and rules, take care of yourself, your children, relatives, so that we can overcome this difficult situation with small losses! Together we are strong! Thank you!