In view of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic raging across the globe, Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom has announced that it has put in operation the contingency plans on health safety and security that the organisation has always had ready to deal with emergency situations.
Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev said in a statement here that ensuring nuclear safety and safeguarding the lives and health of both employees and the general public has been the organisations’s first and utmost priority for decades.
“At present, we have introduced additional measures at all of Russia’s nuclear power plants, including regular health check-ups of our personnel. We have arranged for as many employees as possible to work remotely and purchased personal protective equipment and hygiene-related products in bulk. We are also constantly disinfecting our production facilities and vehicles and have essentially cancelled all business trips,” Likhachev said.
“We have taken similar measures at nuclear power plant construction sites. We are carrying on with all our foreign construction sites despite challenges related to the spread of the coronavirus in a number of countries. The most stringent measures have been put in place at our sites in such countries in order to ensure the safety of personnel, and we are fully prepared to strengthen measures to counter the spread of this infection, including by means of quarantine, if said measures are introduced by local authorities,” he added.
The statement also said Rosatom is taking all necessary precautions to minimise the negative impact of coronavirus on supply chains, and to ensure that the company fully meets its obligations to customers according to the timelines stipulated in all contracts.
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said it will provide diagnostic kits, equipment and training in nuclear-derived detection techniques to countries asking for assistance in tackling the worldwide spread of COVID-19.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement that the assistance, requested by 14 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, is part of intensified global efforts to contain infections.
“The diagnostic technique, known as real time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), can help detect and identify the novel coronavirus accurately within hours in humans, as well as in animals that may also host it,” Grossi said.
The first training course in detection techniques will shortly take place at the Joint IAEA/Food Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Animal Production and Health Laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria, in two weeks’ time and will include medical and veterinary experts from Cambodia, Republic of Congo, Cote d´Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.
“Additional regional courses will be organized for other countries, including from Latin America and the Caribbean. Participants will be trained in biosafety and biosecurity procedures to protect health and veterinary workers during sampling and analysis and to prevent further external contamination,” the statement said.
Nuclear-derived techniques, such as real time RT-PCR, are important tools in the rapid detection and characterization of viruses, like the one causing COVID-19, it added.