Moscow - PhosAgro CEO, member of the Management Board of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE), and President of the Russian Association of Fertilizer Producers, Andrey Guryev, took part in a round table hosted jointly by the Russia-24 television network and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). The round table was devoted to the experience of industry in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
Measures designed to prevent COVID-19 and protect the health of employees and residents of the cities where the companies operate, as well as the uninterrupted operation of continuous-cycle enterprises during the pandemic, were among the topics discussed by Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of RDIF; Anna Popova, Head of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection (Rospotrebnadzor); Andrey Chibis, Governor of the Murmansk Region; Alexei Teksler, Governor of the Chelyabinsk Region; Dmitry Konov, Chairman of the Management Board of PJSC SIBUR Holding; Pavel Grachev, CEO of
PJSC Polyus; and Sergey Ivanov, CEO of ALROSA.
As Rospotrebnadzor head Anna Popova noted in her speech, Russia currently has only several cases of group sickness and infection in production facilities, which speaks to the positive practice being followed in the country.
“All production facilities that have organised the process in a timely and proper way and that don’t permit violations are operating normally and don’t have issues with infections,” Popova emphasised.
Popova maintains that the set of anti-epidemic measures in place at production facilities contains two key elements. The first involves organising work process in a way that eliminates the risk of infection among people in the workplace who are in close proximity to one another. The second involves restricting worksite access to those who have tested positive for the virus. Important safety measures that have successfully been deployed in industrial enterprises include the use of personal protective equipment, measuring the temperature of people at the entrances to worksites, holding video and audio meetings, and testing. Regarding the latter, the emergence of reliable and sensitive rapid test systems, funded by the RDIF, is both timely and important.
Diagnostics can be carried out promptly both directly at production sites and in nearby settlements that do not have special laboratories. Making this possible is rapid testing technology developed jointly by Russian and Japanese scientists with the support of RDIF, which was discussed in detail by RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev.
“Thanks to our network of 18 leading sovereign funds, we were able to begin analysing the situation back in January and saw that testing is one of the key elements for keeping the situation under control. Separation of the infected from the uninfected, especially at industrial enterprises, is to a large degree key to success and safety on rotation shifts, at production operations, and at large investment projects,” said Dmitriev.
He argued that the speed of diagnosis – one of the key elements in the fight against the virus – is a distinctive characteristic of testing systems produced by EMG with the support from RDIF. These testing systems make it possible to establish reliably within 30 minutes whether a person is infected.
Andrey Guryev, PhosAgro CEO and co-chairman of the RUIE Coordinating Council for Combating the Coronavirus, spoke about the pilot experience in using these rapid tests.
“When a patient suspected of having coronavirus was found on 24 March in Apatity, where a significant number of PhosAgro mining and processing plant employees live, we decided to deliver rapid tests manufactured by EMG with RDIF support to the city as quickly as possible. We sent a plane to Kazan and brought 100 of the express tests that were available at that time to Apatity.
“They helped us to check the first and second circles of people who had been in contact with the alleged patient zero, as well as the medical staff, within three hours. This quick and effective solution made it possible to isolate the infected group and put a barrier in place to stop the spread of infection,” emphasised Guryev.
PhosAgro’s CEO noted that the company moved swiftly to enact active anti-crisis steps, having begun developing instructions for pandemic action in advance based on Russian and Soviet epidemic control protocols and relevant foreign experience of partner companies based in Europe and China.
“I am certain that the measures taken by companies, authorities, municipalities, and governors have been highly effective today. In many respects, the key to this is sharing best practices in combating the epidemic both between regional command centres and between large companies. This sharing is facilitated by the work of the RUIE Coordinating Council for Combating the Coronavirus, which combines the best Russian and foreign practices for implementing action protocols during a pandemic. Information about this experience is available on the RUIE website as collections of best practices for business and regions,” said Guryev.
He emphasised that continuous-cycle enterprises would not be able to operate steadily during a pandemic without close coordination with Rospotrebnadzor and regional authorities, noting the role of governors of the regions where the company operates who headed regional command centres.
According to Murmansk Region Governor Andrey Chibis, the experience of combating a pandemic has once again demonstrated “how important and proper it is for the government and large businesses to work hand in hand to ensure people’s safety.”
Commenting on actions to combat the outbreak of coronavirus in Apatity, he noted that “the clear and well-coordinated work of the command centres, Rospotrebnadzor, and PhosAgro allowed us to quickly identify a circle of contacts, test them rapidly, and localise the outbreak. This experience helped us greatly moving forward.”
“It is fundamentally important that large companies not only help with testing, but also provide necessary preventative regimens in their workplaces and help us deploy additional beds to treat COVID patients,” Chibis emphasised, citing as an example PhosAgro’s assistance in deploying additional capacity at medical institutions in the cities where it operates.
“As governor, I feel really good about how clearly and harmoniously we have managed to work with big business,” Chibis said in summary.
Agreeing with him was Alexei Teksler, governor of the Chelyabinsk Region, who noted that adherence to general sanitary and epidemiological requirements, as well as collaboration with large industrial enterprises, is what is needed today to maintain control over the situation in the regions as a whole.
“It seems that the activities undertaken today are allowing us to maintain precautionary standards, as employees are monitored and handled appropriately, and people are constantly supervised while on the enterprise territories. This is extremely important,” said Teksler.
RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev concluded by emphasising that Russian companies are taking very fast and active steps to combat the coronavirus:
“We believe that in many ways Russian enterprises are better prepared than many companies in other countries. The fast mobilisation work that we see at PhosAgro, Polyus, Alrosa, SIBUR, and other companies is producing results.”