Georgia has registered a record 54 deaths due to the coronavirus in a single day as the number of infections in the country continues to spiral.
On Tuesday, the authorities announced that 5,697 people had tested positive for the virus in 24 hours, breaking the previous record of 5,450 in November.
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze said the country was ‘going through the worst-case scenario of the epidemic’.
For weeks medical workers have complained about the dire situation in hospitals, where the number of available beds is running low.
Alexander Goginava, an infectious disease specialist, told OC Media that medical workers in the country were being pushed to their limits.
‘Doctors and nurses have been spending a colossal amount of energy at work for more than a year and a half. It’s very hard, not only physically, but also psychologically’, he said. ‘Especially working with patients in difficult conditions, with those who have difficulty breathing and where they are the only hope for their survival'.
‘However, when patients have a high degree of lung damage, it is no longer helped by anything, neither medication nor oxygen. It is very difficult for the medical staff to be at the epicentre of all this, but they still work tirelessly’, Goginava said. ‘You cannot relax even for a moment in such moments.’
‘It’s very important to encourage and support medical workers, and not just materially, because their daily work is really tantamount to heroism'.
Georgia began to gradually ease coronavirus restriction in late February. At the end of June, the country lifted almost all of the remaining restrictions, including a nightly curfew.
The authorities have insisted that a new lockdown would not be introduced citing public opinion.
On Tuesday, however, the government announced some new measures, including mandatory facemasks in open spaces where five or more people have gathered.
New penalties of ₾10,000 ($3,200) have also been introduced for catering facilities and other venues which host social gatherings such as weddings and funerals. Repeat offences will result in the facilities being closed.
Alexander Goginava told OC Media that before introducing any new measures the government should more strictly enforce the current restrictions.
‘The state must toughen up the implementation of existing regulations and control this.’
Goginava also highlighted the slow progress of vaccination. According to the National Centre for Disease Control, as of Tuesday, just over 200,000 people have been fully vaccinated, around 5% of the population.
‘It’s very important that the vaccination process doesn't slow down and that as many people as possible get vaccinated’, he said.
[Read on OC Media: Datablog | Data suggests Georgia has handled the pandemic poorly]