The coronavirus situation in the country is going into a stalemate.
"Now more and more medics are learning foreign languages and are ready to immigrate. Medics are not able to withstand the strain, so they decide to bow out of the profession or leave the country."
Administrators of the White Coats telegram channel, with whom Belsat spoke under the condition of complete anonymity, describe the trends in the medical field. "WC" has already been captured once, they are still receiving threats in the bot, and common medics are encouraged "from above" not to subscribe to the channel. At the beginning of October, "WC" was declared extremist, and now any reference to the name and spreading of information threaten with fines and arrests. However, "WC" is the channel for honest information about the pace at which Belarusians are being killed by coronavirus - and how the Health Ministry hides it, about the problems Belarusian doctors are facing, and whether anything can change the situation except major reforms in the health care system.
The channel is run by real Belarusian medics who see the situation with their own eyes and the eyes of their colleagues, and much of the information is verified - although it is not possible to tell about the methods of verification, as it is dangerous for the participants.
"And we haven't even passed the peak yet!"
The coronavirus situation in Belarus is close to a stalemate. The complete lack of containment measures, the actual failure of the vaccination campaign, the lies in the official statistics regarding covid, the failure of many medical institutions to work with increased loads, the dangerous frivolity of most Belarusians in matters of personal protection, the outflow of personnel from medicine - all these factors have led to a situation that is out of control.
The increase in the number of patients cannot be compared with the figures published by the Ministry of Health. According to our data, in the days when the Ministry of Health reports 1,900 or more patients, in Minsk alone there could be the same number of positive tests for COVID.
The numbers of COVID deaths in the republic are comparable to the number of deaths in one hospital in Minsk. Now the situation is already much worse than in previous waves, and we haven't even passed the peak yet.
Covid hospitals are overcrowded and they admit mainly severely ill patients, which means that a lot of sick people stay at home.
The reserves are being mobilized to work: doctors are called back from courses, vacations, and six-year students of medical universities are taken off studies. The situation with the payment of bonuses is not clear: many medics do not have them or receive minimal amounts. The oxygen supply systems are operating in a tensioned mode, there are not enough oxygen facilities. There is a shortage of personal protective equipment, there is a periodic shortage of reagents to make a number of blood tests, some medical equipment (catheters, infusion pumps) is not available, and diagnostic equipment works with an increased load and breaks down.
In addition to all of this, there are lies in the statistics, people's distrust of vaccination, and ignoring the mask regime and social distancing measures. It is becoming clear that without full-fledged reform of the medical system, most of the problems cannot be solved."
"These numbers inspire deceptive optimism"
"We are frightened by the ease with which the Department of Health falsifies statistics on morbidity and mortality from the coronavirus. These figures instill deceptive optimism and false confidence in people who believe the ministry that the disease is not scary, that it is possible not to get vaccinated, that it is "like the flu." The Ministry of Health has begun agitating for vaccination, but continues to publish false numbers, and the common people look at this and ask themselves: "If there are so few people getting sick, why would I bother with the mask/vaccine/not going to the movies?"
Honest statistics would show the complexity of the situation, help people start thinking about vaccination, and demonstrate that the government is working together with the people.
Why are the statistics being concealed? We can only speculate: the medical system, like any state system, is built on the principle of the vertical: there is a boss over the employee, and another boss over the boss. And each subsequent boss requires from the previous one certain figures to meet the required level. The figures are corrected before they are sent to the top. This system is built on fear and subordination of the lower to the higher".
"The situation in medicine in Belarus is deteriorating"
"The last year has changed the healthcare system, and not for the better. First, the pandemic keeps it under constant stress, it leads to overwork and burnout of medics. Secondly, a distinctive feature of the last year in Belarusian medicine was the great loss of highly professional medical workers".
One of the reasons for the loss of medics was deaths from coronavirus. At the moment at least 200 medical workers are known to have died from COVID. The Ministry of Health does not provide any official figures, all information is collected literally in drips: from the colleagues and relatives of the dead medics and non-indifferent Belarusians.
"Besides this, the doctors are leaving the country, and some who are disloyal to the authorities have been fired. Those who have stayed are working with colossal workloads. This problem has always been acute; every physician knows the joke that there is nothing to eat if you work nine-to-five and there is no time if you work 24 hours a day. But with the arrival of the coronavirus and the outflow of staff, the situation has worsened greatly. Now the medics are doing a monstrous amount of work, not comparable to their work norms.
We regularly monitor the vacancy situation at various medical institutions, and we see that the number of vacancies is only growing.
The number of vacancies for medical workers, according to the state employment service, is indeed steadily increasing. Today there are vacancies for about 3000 medical specialists, 3000 nurses and 1000 paramedics in Belarus.
"Doctors were prepared for the pandemic from the professional point of view, but the human resource is exhaustible, and doctors cannot cover all the needs only with their own efforts. Also, the bed fund, diagnostic capabilities, the number of oxygen units, the number of intensive care beds, ventilators and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines are limited.
In the first wave, it wasn't so bad, because the ByCOVID19 volunteers and common people helped provide medics with protective equipment, oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, food and water. Now every such initiative will be repressed by the authorities. In fact, the medics have been thrown to the wolves."
"Hope for the best, prepare for the worst"
"It doesn't look like the fourth wave caused by the delta strain will pass with minimal casualty. In addition to the high rate of mortality from the coronavirus, the pandemic has stolen a lot from patients with other diseases."
In September, the Department of Health released a statistical report with data on deaths in 2020. The overall mortality rate increased 1.7-fold. For example, people died from coronary heart disease 2.5 times more often in 2020 than in 2019. When these figures were first published in the media, the report was taken down from the public domain.
"We repeat it like a mantra: wear masks to cover your nose and mouth, get vaccinated, avoid crowded places, wash your hands thoroughly, teach these rules to your family and friends. So and in no other way, by working together, we can slow down the pandemic, give our medical system a chance to regain some resource."
"Everything is spoiled by a catastrophically low level of trust in the official authorities."
"You can't say the vaccination campaign has been successful, and there are reasons for that.
First, the lack of transparency. In 2021, it is not enough to say to a person, "You must get vaccinated or you will die!" For everyone to be aware of the need for vaccination, it is important to give the most complete information about the vaccines, written in accessible language, about post-vaccination reactions, about how vaccination will be organized in the country, and so on.
In Belarus, independent sources, certain physicians and Telegram-channels were giving information about the vaccination, while the Ministry of Health was stubbornly repeating the studied phrase "We must get vaccinated!".
Now the Ministry has started releasing videos that encourage people to get vaccinated, some companies have started offering their employees bonuses for being vaccinated, and this may have accelerated the pace of the vaccination, but everything is spoiled by the catastrophically low level of trust in the authorities.
The second thing is that although the authorities say in almost every vaccination announcement that "vaccination is not compulsory" in Belarus, it is de facto compulsory. We know about the situations when employees are not allowed to work without being vaccinated, when sanctions are applied, when there is an order "from the top" about having at least 70% of the vaccinated in the organization. All this does not contribute to confidence in the vaccination, given that the people got used to it: if they force you, then it is bad.
Compulsory vaccination will definitely discourage people from getting vaccinated. It is possible that a temporary measure of not allowing unvaccinated people into places of public entertainment, cafes, restaurants, airplanes, etc., could be effective for as long as the percentage of immunized people in the country is low - this could curb the increase of infection". The United States has published data showing that 99.5 percent of those who died from Covid-19 in the past six months were not vaccinated. The other day, a study from the UK was published and it also showed the high effectiveness of full vaccination in preventing deaths.
"The whole world is already coming to a new norm that a vaccinated person is free to travel and go to public places.
In order to make the vaccination campaign a success, we need to publish information about vaccines written in accessible language, to start recording, researching and openly displaying the results of observations about post-vaccination reactions that have occurred, to create an information portal where people can get answers to their questions with links to authoritative sources, to explain things patiently. The purchase of vaccines used worldwide and approved by the World Health Organization would definitely move vaccination forward.