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President Tokayev addresses #Kazakhstan people on #COVID-19 measures

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Since 16 March, our country has been living in a state of emergency. This has been a difficult time for many citizens. Some have lost their income, some have lost their job, others had to change their life plans. I sympathize with everyone from the bottom of my heart. I had to make such a difficult but necessary decision in order to prevent the spread of a dangerous virus in Kazakhstan.

This has largely been successful. A pandemic is not growing exponentially.

Kazakhstan’s actions received positive reviews from the World Health Organization and international experts.

Tough quarantine measures have been put in place in the country, public transport has been suspended, most organizations and institutions switched to a remote mode of operation, disinfection of streets and residential facilities is being carried out, and all infected citizens are receiving medical care. Of course, the situation in different parts of the country is not the same.

In some regions, a surge in incidence has likely passed.

In other regions, the dynamics of the spread of the virus are still alarming.

Our actions are based on the specific situation on the ground.

Our main task is to preserve the life and health of our citizens. We are also taking measures to preserve the incomes of the population and ensure social and economic stability.

Once again, I want to assure you - in these difficult conditions, no one will be left alone with their problems, the state will not leave anyone in trouble.

During the state of emergency, I announced two packages of support measures. Their active implementation is under way, although this has not gone on without administrative blunders that led to fair criticism from our society.

4 million 250 thousand people have received financial assistance.

More than 570 thousand people have received food packages. We plan to provide products to more than 1.1 millionpeople of Kazakhstan. Funds are allocated from the Birgemiz Foundation, created on the initiative of the First President –Leader of the Nation. The “Nur Otan” party is carrying out active work.

In April-May, more than 1.6 million people will receive state assistance to pay for utilities.

The availability and quality of food products are monitored on an ongoing basis.

There are enough necessary products in the country.

Local authorities are controlling the prices of socially significant products.

We are trying to financially support our medical staff, who are on the front line of the fight against the pandemic. The Ministry of Health and governors are taking measures to support other categories of medical workers.

More than 1.6 million citizens and 11.5 thousand small and medium-sized businesses have received a deferral of payments of loans, as well as loans totaling more than 360 billion tenge.

SMEs are in a difficult position today. If we do not help them survive, there can be no discussion about restoring the country’s economy.

Tax incentive measures have covered more than 700 thousand companies and individual entrepreneurs, which will allow them to save around 1 trillion tenge.

Funds have been allocated for lending to small and medium-sized businesses at affordable rates.

In order to avoid job losses and reductions in people’s wages, a register of relevant companies is being formed, which will receive appropriate support. It should include genuinely important companies for our economy.

Despite all the difficulties, farmers continue to work. Their work deserves sincere respect.

The issues of conducting spring sowing work are largely resolved. There should be no obstacles here. This is the task of the Ministry of Agriculture and the governors.

200 billion tenge has been allocated for financing spring sowing work and forward purchase, including 70 billion allocated for the development of seed production, the purchase of fertilizers and pesticides.

Overall, the amount of funds aimed at supporting citizens and business amounts to almost 6 trillion tenge.

This, as you know, is a huge amount. The task of the Government and regulatory bodies is to ensure the absolute effectiveness of the funds spent, and the transparency of the entire financing process.

Having achieved these results, we cannot stop now. The situation is still extremely serious.

Coronavirus continues to attack the whole world. The number of cases is approaching 3 million people, and this figure will increase. A second wave of the pandemic is expected.

The peak of the disease in Kazakhstan has not fully passed. There is still the threat of the situation getting out of control.

Unfortunately, in some regions, primarily in Almaty, a large number of doctors and medical workers have been infected with the coronavirus. Measures are being taken to ensure the safety of medical personnel.

It is necessary to carefully analyze the reasons, determine the responsibility of officials, and prevent a recurrence of such a situation.

Without further precautions, other epicenters of infection may occur. If simultaneous removal of lockdown measures is implemented, we will face a new wave of incidence.

The danger of the disease can not be minimized. Coronavirus is highly contagious and carries a serious threat to human health. This is recognized by almost the whole world.

To say otherwise is to go against common sense or to pursue malice. Given the current situation in our country and on the basis of a proposal by the State Commission and experts, I have decided to sign a Decree on the extension of the state of emergency until May 11 of this year.

This decision is dictated by the current complex reality.

In accordance with the law, the state of emergency will be completed on May 11, unless, of course, a new massive outbreak of the epidemic occurs. I hope this will not happen.

Our common task is to prevent a negative scenario in Kazakhstan. For me there is nothing more important than the life of every compatriot.

At the same time, the State Commission for ensuring the emergency regime is ready to soften the quarantine regime, primarily in areas and cities where the spread of the virus is under control.

The State Commission is entrusted with determining the list of organizations that will begin their work in all regions of the country, following the example of the capital.

First of all, these are industrial enterprises, construction and road construction companies, transport companies, banks, and public service centers.

But at the same time, it is necessary to ensure compliance with all sanitary standards, and conduct regular disinfection of workplaces. In everyday life you need to adhere to the rules of social distancing.

Company managers and local executive bodies are personally responsible for this. The role of the governors’ offices of all levels is growing significantly.

The Government will provide assistance in the amount of 42,500 tenge to citizens who have lost income for the second month. You do not need to apply again. Payments will be made based on previously submitted documents.

Families who are in need will continue to receive food packages. During the isolation period, it is not easy for parents with young children, who find it especially difficult to sit inside four walls.

The State Commission, together with the governors’ offices, should work out the issue of opening access to playgrounds and courtyards.

Naturally, this should be done with strict adherence to all sanitary standards and requirements.

Those with a summer residence are very worried, as we are in the midst of the most important spring period. The State Commission has considered this issue, and the decision will be announced publically.

All passenger flights were suspended in the country. This was completely justified. But taking into account the relative stabilization of the situation, the Government will open flights from May 1 between the capital and Almaty.

This is necessary both for citizens and for the work of many specialists, including those involved in the fight against the virus.

At the same time, it is important to carefully consider all safety precautions, to develop regulations for the interaction of aviation and sanitary-epidemiological services.

Partial relaxation of quarantine measures cannot be seen as a return to the normal way of life.

Shopping and entertainment centres, cinemas, restaurants, parks and other crowded places will be closed for visiting. Distance learning will continue in universities, colleges, and schools.

I urge the people of Kazakhstan to treat these measures with understanding, it is necessary to be patient.

Warm weather and quarantine fatigue should not lead to irresponsibility. Violations of the lockdown regime can increase the number of coronavirus victims.

The main risk groups are people with chronic diseases and the older generation.

But there are examples of children becoming infected, and we have no right to risk their health.

There are no vaccines yet for coronavirus. Only strict observance of quarantine measures saves thousands of people from a dangerous virus. I ask you not to leave your homes without a specific need.

This is especially important during the holy month of Ramadan. This year, on the recommendation of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kazakhstan, we will have to abandon some traditions, including gathering guests for iftar during fasting.

Ahead are also the May holidays, which will also have to be celebrated at home.

But none of the veterans of World War II will be left without attention.Governors will provide material assistance to war and home front veterans. The Ministry of Health is faced with the task of increasing the volume of testing to at least 20-25 thousand tests per day, which corresponds to leading international standards.

The Government is instructed to bring the production of domestic test systems to the industrial level as soon as possible.

We need to take measures to use the available capacities for the production of immunobiological supplies.

When the vaccine formula is available, Kazakhstan should not depend on its supply from abroad.

In the post-crisis period, we will give priority to the development of medicine. This area will receive massive government support.

The Government should make practical proposals for improving the public health system in the draft new Code on Public Health and the Health Care System. I hope Parliament will adopt the Code before the end of the session.

Overall, we must now prepare for the post-crisis period. This was convincingly stated by the Leader of the Nation at a meeting of the Security Council on April 24.

By May 11, the Government and the National Bank will prepare a Comprehensive Plan for Restoring Economic Growth, including support for the most affected sectors.

Our country is entering a new phase of its development. In fact, we will live in a new reality.

Therefore, it is necessary to carry out a large-scale, in-depth transformation of the economy and public administration.

Today I again appeal to citizens who are on the front line of the fight against the pandemic.

Once again I express my gratitude to our doctors and all medical personnel, law enforcement officers and the military, who steadfastly and selflessly ensure the safety of our people.

I also thank the volunteers. Despite the risks, they are helping citizens in need on a daily basis.

I want to express my gratitude to journalists and media workers who continue to provide citizens with timely and reliable information.

The employees of the state apparatus deserve support too, as they are ensuring the vital activity of the state and the implementation of the package of anti-crisis measures in the most difficult conditions.

Kazakhstan is absolutely transparent in front of the international community, we are publishing all the data, no matter how sad it may be. In this regard, I ask some citizens to refrain from conspiracy gossip.

Yes, there are lapses in the work of state bodies, including systemic ones. We see them, we are learning lessons, and in the post-quarantine period we will take the necessary measures. But most government workers are working honestly and even selflessly.

The crisis has shown that Kazakh citizens are a nation of true patriots. With your interested participation, we will be able to achieve all the goals. There is no doubt about that.

Together we will cope with all the difficulties and problems!

We are together!

~Head of State President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

coronavirus

Recovery and Resilience Facility: Hungary submits official recovery and resilience plan

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The Commission has received an official recovery and resilience plan from Hungary. This plan sets out the reforms and investment projects that Hungary plans to implement with the support of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The RRF is the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU, the EU's plan for emerging stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. It will provide up to €672.5 billion to support investments and reforms (in 2018 prices). This breaks down into grants worth a total of €312.5bn and €360bn in loans. The RRF will play a crucial role in helping Europe emerge stronger from the crisis, and securing the green and digital transitions. The presentation of the plan follows intensive dialogue between the Commission and the Hungarian national authorities over the past months. The Commission will assess the Hungarian plan within the next two months based on the eleven criteria set out in the Regulation and translate its content into legally binding acts. The Commission has now received a total of 15 recovery and resilience plans, from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, and Slovakia. It will continue to engage intensively with the remaining member states to help them deliver high quality plans. A press release and a Q&A are available online.

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Coronavirus: EU helps Nepal to tackle infections surge

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Nepal has requested EU assistance to help contain the explosion in COVID-19 cases. In response, the EU has mobilized an initial €2 million in humanitarian funding, which will support monitoring of all home isolated cases through tele-health / tele-medicine services and rapid referral to hospitals; national emergency medical teams deployment and international emergency medical teams mobilization facilitation; procure COVID-19 equipment and supplies in Nepal. Key equipment and supplies will include oxygen equipment including oxygen gas cylinders, oxygen concentrators, home care kits, diagnostics including antigen test kits; personal protection equipment.

Nepal has also activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Finland is the first member state to offer more than 2 million surgical facemasks, 350,000 FFP2 masks, 52,500 pairs of vinyl gloves and 30,000 isolation gowns. Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said: "The COVID-19 surge in Nepal is claiming more lives every minute as it spreads across the country. We stand in full solidarity with Nepal in its fight against the pandemic. We are quickly mobilising emergency support with initial €2 million funding. I am very thankful to Finland for their quick offers of assistance via our Civil Protection Mechanism. We stand ready to provide further assistance.” The European Union's 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre is in regular contact with the Nepalese authorities to closely monitor the situation and channel the EU assistance.

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Bulgaria

EU Cohesion policy: €133.4 million for Bulgaria and Sweden to tackle the social and economic impact of the coronavirus crisis

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The Commission has approved the modification of three operational programmes (OPs) under REACT-EU to provide €75.9 million to Bulgaria and €57.5m to Sweden to help tackle the effects of the pandemic. Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, said: “The coronavirus has put our social fabric to the test and has hit the most vulnerable people the hardest. The EU is showing solidarity by supporting the provision of aid in these difficult times and promoting social inclusion.” Cohesion and Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira (pictured) said: “The decisions approved today are the result of good policy measures. They will provide much needed investment resources for the post-coronavirus crisis move to a green and digital recovery.” The Bulgarian programme for the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) will receive an extra €19.9m in 2021 to provide daily warm meals to 50,000 people from vulnerable groups living in poverty. This is the first amendment of a FEAD OP under REACT-EU. In addition, the Bulgarian programme ‘Science and Education for Smart Growth', co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will be topped up with €56m to support distance learning. At least 10% of students and teachers will receive laptops or tablets and 30% of teachers will receive training in online teaching. In Sweden, the Commission has approved the modification of an OP that will increase the funding available for investments by nearly €57.5m. The amendment of the national OP co-financed by the ERDF will support the sustainable green and digital transition of the Swedish SMEs that were most negatively impacted by the crisis, such as from the tourism and hospitality sectors. REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.5 billion additional funding over the course of 2021 and 2022 to programmes under the ERDF, the ESF and the FEAD.

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