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St. Petersburg takes part in BRICS online conference

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The main topic on the agenda was countering the COVID-19 outbreak.

Learning from others’ mistakes and sharing experience – St. Petersburg has taken part in an online conference of the BRICS countries dedicated to containing the coronavirus outbreak. Saint-Petersburg TV Channel reporter Maxim Lebedev tells about the discussion.

Maxim Lebedev, reporter: ‘Empty metro, streets and parks – this is a view to be seen all over the world now that anti-COVID measures are in force. And, still, according to the statistics, some 33.5 thousand people get infected daily. The global problem should be tackled together, and international organizations should lead the way.’

One of such international organizations is the BRICS. Experts from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa discussed the main problem of 2020 at a major online conference. Municipal authorities are usually at the forefront in the anti-COVID battle. That is why they gathered at the conference.’  

Mikhail Sverdlov, Director, Development, BRICS International Municipal Forum, says: ‘We always hear the federal authorities, the presidents, etc. But today we want to talk about what is happening locally. We will share experience in order to tackle the outbreak and its consequences more efficiently.’

The main issues were, what measures the countries will implement should the contagion accelerate, how to make the transition to distant services for the public, how to maintain availability of healthcare services when people’s mobility is restricted. These questions are especially important for the countries that faced coronavirus just recently.  

Enrique Dominguez, Advisor to the Guarulius city parliament, Brazil, tells: ‘We are very glad to take part in such a conference dedicated to fighting coronavirus worldwide. Now we are taking all the necessary measures on the municipal level to contain the decease. But we experience a lack of experts, so we cooperate actively with international organizations.’

The conference participants were interested to hear the Chinese experts hoping that they probably have a recipe to fight COVID-19. China has been able to cut the contagion rate, but people coming to the country from abroad remain a threat.

Men Jinbo, head doctor, Jilin province, China, confirms: ‘During the past several days, the number of infected people in our province has dropped to almost zero, on March 15 the last patients left hospitals. How did we do it? To fight the decease, very strong  leadership is necessary on both the municipal and the federal level. That is why I suggest establishing a common BRICS anti-COVID headquarters.’

This measure could help the BRICS react quicker to the situation in each of the member countries. St. Petersburg representatives are positive that to contain the outbreak, implementing the successful practices of foreign colleagues would be sufficient. 

Vyacheslav Kalganov, Deputy Chairman, St. Petersburg Committee for external relations, says: ‘Some of the countries that take part in the conference have already passed the peak of infection, and some will have to face it. We will follow in the steps of our Chinese colleagues and those European countries that implement more serious measures.’

Following the discussion, the conference participants are to develop recommendations for BRICS municipalities to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. St. Petersburg has already implemented most of these measures.

Photo and video: St. Petersburg TV channel

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