9 March 2020 Press Conference of the President of the Republic, H.E. Ilir Meta
Today the two cases were officially confirmed, which are the first and we would very much like to be the only ones affected by coronavirus.
Wishing speedy recovery to our two citizens, I express my solidarity with them, their families and the entire medical team, which is serving with utmost professionalism and dedication.
I appreciate the commitment and measures taken so far by the responsible state institutions against the spread of this pandemic, including the government decisions today.
I invite all citizens to handle this situation with maximum responsibility, calmness and solidarity.
To strictly and rigorously adhere to the health protocols and advice of specialized medical staff, and to follow and implement at all times only the suggestions of state institutions.
There is no room for panic!
But in the first place there is no room for the slightest underestimation by all institutions, and in particular by every citizen of this country.
This situation requires maximum accountability, prompt cooperation, professionalism, dedication and transparency.
The health of every citizen and his/her life is everyone’s priority today!
For this reason:
I strongly support once again all the health personnel who are facing a major challenge. Our doctors and nurses across the country, who will need, in addition to other major problems, to face this serious and major risk.
I urge the necessity of engaging and coordinating all state structures with qualified human and scientific forces, especially those with experience in the field of hygiene epidemiology, be they also out of active service.
I call on all central and local institutions to take measures to ensure the life of every citizen, to provide in the first place the necessary safeguards, especially for doctors and nurses, to launch staff training that will be committed to coping with this situation, not only for setting quarantines and their security perimeter and for disinfection of public places, but also for the equipment and everything necessary for the treatment of those affected.
As President of the Republic, I am following the situation step by step and together with the state institutions, and together with the other institutions we will do our best to activate all our capabilities, capacities and powers to be at this moment close to each citizenship and overcoming with the lightest consequences this situation, doing everything to prevent its escalation!
In assessing the situation,
– For detailed plans for the pandemic, with responsibilities assigned to each structure and individual at central and local level.
– Very rigorous and detailed monitoring plan for real functioning and full responsibility of the structures.
– Full funding to meet the needs and the purchasing of all medical protective materials for health personnel, but not only, also the security forces or all other personnel who will be involved in this operation, to successfully cope with this pandemic.
– Clear action plan for health structures and their capacities in the face of eventual risk of pandemic escalation.
– Detailed economic plan for supportive financial actions that the government must take immediately to cope with the consequences of the pandemic in the economy.
Today the family and the entire Albanian society are together to face a very serious health emergency and only the unfolding of nationwide solidarity should be the greatest security and strength in the face of the pandemic.
The prudence and lessons learned from other, even more developed countries that have been most affected, such as neighboring Italy, are the safest instruments to cope with such a stressful situation with calm and determination.
Every citizen should be aware that the slightest understatement not only endangers his health and his life, but also that of his children, his parents, his grandparents, his neighbors, his friends. That is why we all need to show maximum responsibility and maximum cooperation in these moments.
I am convinced that only in this way will we succeed in preventing this difficult situation we are facing, from allowing it to escalate and endanger the health and lives of our citizens.
I hope and believe in the responsibility of everyone, every representative of our health institutions and all other institutions involved in this plan, but also of every citizen in the Republic of Albania.
Question: Mr. President, do you think there is room for a National Security Council meeting?
President Meta: It’s not the time to hold meetings over meetings. On January 31, 2020, I have publicly requested that measures be taken before the cases in Italy, and subsequently formally requested that all institutions be prepared for this situation and onwards.
Yesterday, I made an even stronger request for the escalation of measures following the dramatic developments in neighboring Italy. The government today has taken a series of measures in this regard.
We are in constant communication with state and government institutions to do everything, not just investigate these two cases, as it is very important to understand that the slightest undervaluation of a citizen can pose a great risk, as the entire potentially contacted network can turn each of them into a carrier and an unwitting distributor of this virus, which can put the situation out of control.
But I believe that actions are being done with full responsibility and we are in constant contact and communication with everyone.
As of today, we also have a Task Force headed by the National Security Adviser in the Presidency and will also have an address for all those who have concerns who see underestimates on the ground by certain persons or who do not receive proper treatment and are not given proper attention.
So I believe that with maximum responsibility we will be able to get the situation under control.
Today I have spoken both to our ambassadors, also in Rome, as well as Greece, especially Italy, extremely affected by this virus and with potentially dangerous potentials to penetrate into our country as well, but I believe we will all do our best.
I invite every citizen to show the utmost responsibility for his health, his family and our entire society. And in particular the safeguards for medical equipment necessary for physicians, nurses are a top priority, as well as all other security personnel who will be engaged in the whole process.
There are some things that require funding and the funds are definitely to be found, because if you neglect some funds early on, then much more will be invested in the future and the situation can get out of control. But there are two things, which do not require funding, they only require accountability, citizenship and patriotism.
These are the cooperation of every citizen and every citizen cares about his health, his family and everyone. And second is volunteering. I think it’s another moment of volunteering. All those intellectuals, all those professors, all the students of the Faculty of Medicine can be very helpful at this moment.
The Red Cross volunteers, who have the knowledge and experience, are therefore all of these potentials that can be deployed in an organized manner to the whole team that is dealing with this issue, because physicians and nurses understand the daily workload, which is not scarce.
Question: Mr. President, have you requested through your staff information from the government on the measures it has taken, whether to cure these confirmed cases so far or in the event of a further outbreak of the epidemic, or even quarantine sites? Are these measures sufficient?
President Meta: We have been in contact at every moment since early February with government representatives on this issue and from today onwards. We will follow up on all the concerns that are raised, carefully monitor the opinion of every expert that appears in public.
We urge health executives to also draw the opinion of all experts who may make an opposition, or who do not have the proper information about the measures that have already been taken and are being taken.
We believe that transparency is necessary to calm the situation, but at the same time to focus on the message of how the citizen can be better protected in these moments. Thank you very much and we will be in constant touch!