Featured: COVID-19 Pandemic: Georgia becomes one of the most severely hit countries in the world
On December 12 Georgia has confirmed 3907 new cases of the novel coronavirus, which has already claimed 1 744 lives. The overall number of active cases has reached 30 995. Georgia, which used to enjoy one of the most enviable rates in the world, is now suffering the world’s worst outbreak of coronavirus, writes Giorgi Lomsadze for Eurasinet.org.
Measured per capita, a number of new infections and deaths in Georgia are recently the worst in the world. “We are at the peak now, but how long this peak is going to last will depend on how well we comply with the new regulations,” claimed Amiran Gamkrelidze, director of the National Center for Disease Control. He added that with strict adherence to the rules, especially wearing face masks, Georgia could halve the rate of transmission by the end of December.
Georgian government was praised for its containment efforts back in spring, but in summer, as Georgians let their guard down on their seaside vacations, the epidemiologic situation in the country has started to worsen steadily.
Georgia held parliamentary elections on October 31, and the ruling Georgian Dream party shied away from reinstating strict containment measures even as the transmission was growing out of control a public health expert, Zurab Tatanashvili told Eurasianet. Although Georgians were at first supportive of the restrictions in spring, public opinion quickly swayed against the lockdown as it began to take a toll on the economy.
On November 28, the Georgian government has finally reintroduced a lockdown throughout much of the country to counter the coronavirus. On November 26, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said they would reintroduce a host of tight restrictions coming into force on Saturday, including closing shops in major cities and increasing curfew hours. The curfew will now be extended from 21:00–05:00 until January 31. and will apply nationwide. However, it will be lifted entirely on New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day.
Lorenz Hilfiker, a Tbilisi-based blogger with a PhD in mathematical physics, wrote for the OC Media that, in the highly optimistic scenario of a constant R=0.6 over the next two months of lockdown, the country might just about limit its total coronavirus death toll to 2,500 until the beginning of March. “Crucially, infections by that point would be so low again that the first batch of vaccines announced for spring could come in time to prevent much further carnage, even if the lockdown is not prolonged and R ticks up again,” he added.