MOSCOW, March 25. /TASS/ Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Russians to show discipline and responsibility and "to stay home" due to the coronavirus pandemic during his address to the nation amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
"All recommendations must be followed. We need to protect ourselves and those close to us," the Russian leader said in an address to the nation. "Believe me, the safest thing right now is to stay home," he stressed.
He called on Russians to carefully follow all measures taken to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). "I urge all citizens to carefully follow the recommendations of doctors and the government. A lot depends on it right now," the Russian leader said. Putin noted that this especially concerns the older generation and those suffering from chronic illnesses.
Vladimir Putin declared the next week to be an official holiday with pay due to the coronavirus. "Now it is extremely important to prevent the threat of the rapid spread of the disease, therefore, I declare the next week to be a public holiday with pay, that is, days off will last from Saturday March 28 to Sunday April 5," President Putin said in his address to Russian citizens on Wednesday.
Putin clarified: "All vital services, including medical facilities, pharmacies, grocery stores, banking and financial accounting organizations, transportation as well as all authorities of all levels will continue working."
The leader warned Russians that the coronavirus pandemic should not be taken lightly. "The long weekend is provided to slow down the spread of the virus. I appeal to all citizens of the country: let’s not act irresponsibly. Please don’t take ‘the leave it to chance’ attitude that ‘It won’t affect me.’ It can affect everyone," he stressed. According to him, in this case "what is happening now in many Western countries — in Europe and overseas — can become our immediate future."
The situation with the coronavirus spread is severe globally, Putin said, adding that it puts at threat all economies around the world. "We see how severe the situation with the coronavirus pandemic is globally as the number of infected continues growing in many countries, and the whole international economy is exposed," he commented.
Russia is managing to contain the coronavirus spread but cannot fence off the threat completely, the president stated. "Thanks to the measures taken, we are managing to contain as a whole the wide and rapid spread of the disease but we should understand together with you that Russia cannot fence itself off from the threat simply due to its geographical position," he noted.
The president announced that the constitutional vote has to be postponed due to the coronavirus.
"I believe that the vote needs to be postponed to a later date. We will see how the situation unfolds in the regions and in the country on the whole, and will make a decision on a new date based on expert opinion," Putin emphasized.
The president pointed out that the vote had initially been scheduled for April 22. "You know how serious I take it and I will definitely ask you to come and voice your opinion on the matter, which is key and crucial for our society," Putin noted.
He stressed that ensuring public safety and health was a top priority.
In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus — named COVID-19 by the WHO — have been reported in more than 190 countries, including Russia.
On March 11, WHO declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a global pandemic. As of now, over 410,000 people have been infected around the world and more than 18,000 have died. Russia has identified 658 cases, 29 patients have recovered. The Russian government has launched an Internet hotline to keep the country’s people informed about the coronavirus situation.