The Belarusian authorities asked for the European Union’s help to fight the coronavirus crisis and its consequences, Josep Borell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said at Wednesday’s video conference.
“Yes, Belarus has requested assistance for its healthcare system and to address the macro-financial and macroeconomic impact of this situation. Also they have been asking for financial assistance,” the EEAS press service quotes the top diplomat.
According to him, EU officials are now exploring how they can respond to these requests.
“The total amount of this support has not yet been decided but I can in advance tell you that it will be around €60 mln,” Josep Borell stressed.
Over the past month, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has repeatedly hit the international headlines due his careless attitude to the pandemic of COVID-19.
On March 16, he shared with the newly appointed officials his own ways of fighting infections, including the novel coronavirus. He advised going to a dry sauna, claiming that the virus dies at 60 degrees; more frequent handwashing, regular diet, and… drinking some vodka are also on his list. Later, he called the situation ‘psychosis and foolishness’.
“There should be no panic, all you need to do is to work. I am happy when I watch TV and see people labouring in the fields, driving tractors, and no one is talking about the virus. There the tractor will cure everyone. The field will heal us all,” he said.
On April 3, Lukashenka said that the introduction of tough quarantine measures and placing a curfew would not improve the coronavirus situation in Belarus. Previously, the Belarusian leader promised that despite the coronavirus, no festivities on the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War would be canceled. With hundreds of fans in the stands, sports competitions were held.
Meanwhile, a Belarusian-born resident of France, whose mother died of the coronavirus, demands a criminal case be opened against Alyaksandr Lukashenka. In his opinion, the Belarusian leader failed to take appropriate action amid the outbreak of COVID-19.
With every passing day, the number of COVID-19 paients is growing at an increased pace. In the past single day, over 400 new cases have been reported in Belarus. By the moment, the number of the infected with COVID-19 has totalled to 1,486 in the country; 16 persons have died.
On April 8, Minsk City Executive Committee approved a plan to ‘prevent and reduce the spread of acute respiratory infections, including those caused by COVID-19’. The list of measures taken includes the ban on holding mass events; the recommendation to switch to distance learning; the parents’ right to decide whether or not to send their child to school/kindergarten, etc. But still, imposing strict quarantine measures does not seem to be on the Belarusian government’s agenda as yet.