1. Preventing transmission
The section on PREVENTING TRANSMISSION includes information on key public health measures that aim to prevent the further spread of the disease. It details how countries are advising the general public and people who (might) have the disease to prevent further spread, as well as measures in place to test and identify cases, trace contacts, and monitor the scale of the outbreak.
1.1 Health communication
The government / National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) has been working actively with mass media to inform the public about measures put in place. Official advice on hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and physical distancing has been issued and disseminated widely starting already in January 2020. Information on outbreak severity and responses are conveyed to the public through mass media and social media and it is updated regularly. The official website for information is https://stopcov.ge/ - the website is available in Georgian, English, Azeri, Armenian and Abkhaz languages, Ossetian is expected to be added soon. In addition to NCDC and Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs (MoH) websites and it provides governmental institutions as well as the general population with evidence-based information on COVID-19, including risk communication, epidemiological information, control mechanisms, and recommendations for different groups. The website was set up to help prevent COVID-19 in Georgia, soon after the first case was registered on 26 February 2020. There is also an information hotline open 24/7 (tel: 15 05). Since 20 January 2020, the NCDC Director General and NCDC taskforce have held daily briefings for the public to give a situation update and explain prevention measures. There is ongoing dissemination of communication materials, video lectures and education materials for different target groups. New, WHO based recommendations and guidelines are regularly published on the MoH web site for health facilities on IPC and case management, as well as new regulations and MoH orders.
Research conducted by the European Regional Bureau of World Health Organization and WHO Country Office in Georgia found that 76-84 % of respondents believe that the Georgian government took adequate and timely measures for COVID-19 prevention and that 90% are aware of the symptoms and transmission routes of COVID-19, and follow preventive measures. However, the research also found people living in rural areas were less informed about the virus than people living in the cities. The telephone survey was carried out in the period from April 21 to May 15 in three stages with 1-week intervals and covered all regions. The margin of error is 3.1%.
When a second surge of cases occurred in September, the Interagency Coordinating Council led by the Prime Minister called on businesses and citizens to follow MoH recommendations and specialists as much as possible in order to avoid additional regulations being imposed.