During Thursday’s press conference on COVID-19 in the European region, a top WHO official has expressed gratitude to the country leaders who decided to postpone the Victory Day celebrations.
Hans Kluge, Regional Director of the WHO regional office for Europe, the organisation has been witnessing ‘positive signs’, i.e. the decrease in the number of coronavirus infections per day in many countries of the European region since 12 April. However, the situation in the eastern part of the region remains a concern, he stressed.
“Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Ukraine have seen increases in the new cases over the last week,” Kluge said.
According to him, holding mass events may result in another outbreak while putting off parades does save lives.
“There is a very important day coming, Victory Day, the 9th of May. I would really like to commend those governments that have made a brave decision to postpone or cancel Victory Day parades, putting the people’s health first. The regional office has a great respect for the historical date, but now it is the time to look for alternative solutions in order not to jeopardise human lives,” Kluge stated.
On Twitter, the WHO Europe also thanks ‘everyone who has made this difficult decision’ and reminds that ‘people’s health is paramount’.
Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka is the only post-Soviet leader who refused to postpone the mass celebration of the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. A few days ago, the head of state said there was no reason to call off the Victory parade as the situation was ‘normal’ despite the lack of quarantine. He expressed confidence that the event would not do any harm to the participants’ health. In his view, the authorities do not need to urge people to attend it as there are ‘thousands’ of volunteers.
As of May 7, Belarusian health professionals have registered 20,168 persons infected with the novel coronavirus; 116 patients have died.. In spite of the increasing infection rate, the Belarusian authorities have not introduced any quarantine measures. President Lukashenka believes that imposing a nationwide lockdown would not improve the situation in Belarus. In his opinion, such steps might deal a crippling blow to the daily life of the nation. Although the Belarusian leader admitted that the recommendations by the World Health Organisation should be studied in detail, he stressed the country would run its own course.