Thu, 26 Nov 2020

Dashboard: Coronavirus in Eurasia - June 22-28

Eurasianet
29 Jun 2020, 08:49 GMT+10

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Our latest

Abkhazia leader meets Putin hoping for Russian bailout

As coronavirus cripples the territory's tourism season and Russia has stopped sending aid, Abkhazia faces a ten percent GDP decline this year.

Moscow's delayed Victory Day in photos

Most foreign leaders stayed away, but Putin's Central Asian crew is a dependable lot.

Pashinyan, Aliyev bow out of Moscow parade

The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan cited the coronavirus for missing the big event, but the real reasons appear to be crises at home.

Azerbaijan re-introduces electronic permits to restrict movement as COVID spread worsens

The country's public health officials also have warned that the growing outbreak is straining the country's health care system.

Putin, Aliyev discuss border crisis

The two presidents spoke following the violent breakup of a protest by Azerbaijani labor migrants in Dagestan. Details of a possible diplomatic resolution of the situation have been scant, however.

Kazakhstan: Nazarbayev diagnosed with coronavirus

His spokesman said the former president is still working remotely.

Kazakhstan grapples uneasily with its second coronavirus wave

The country is experiencing a turnaround after apparent early successes.

ARMENIA

Restrictions

Prime Minister Pashinyan said Armenia is being forced to "walk through hell" with new COVID-19 cases every day and tens of thousands of lost jobs, EVN reported on June 23.

Pashinyan announced that no more patients are waiting for hospital beds, OC Media reported on June 23. Capacity at hospitals remains limited, however, and he called on the public to wear protective equipment.

Citing the pandemic, Pashinyan declined an invitation from Vladimir Putin to attend the postponed Victory Day parade on June 24, his press service said on June 19.

Starting June 17, Armenians will be required to carry official identification when outside in order to facilitate the filing of reports for administrative violations, EVN reported on June 16.

Yerevan extended the state of emergency on June 12 through July 13, OC Media reported.

A week after announcing they had tested positive for COVID-19 but were asymptomatic, Pashinyan said he and his family have fully recovered and tested negative, reported public radio on June 8. Pashinyan announced on June 3 that Armenia had run out of open hospital beds, while the same day brought the highest number of new cases in the country so far. In response to the dire epidemiological situation, the government has extended mask requirements to all public spaces, reported OC Media on June 4. Previously, masks were only required in closed spaces, such as public transport and shops. Schools are closed. Shops and restaurants reopened on May 18.

Health

Fifty Russian medics arrived in Armenia on June 21 to help with the pandemic, Radio Azatutyun reported on June 22. Accompanying the physicians was a supply of critical medical equipment.

Health Minister Arsen Torosyan posted a graphic to his Facebook page showing a positive case trend, which he attributed to new sanitary norms, EVN reported on June 17. Torosyan warned that the situation was still severe and people should continue to wear face masks and maintain distancing.

In contrast, Pashinyan said on June 18 that the 665 new cases in Armenia are due largely to continued resistance to wearing masks, in people's show of "disregard for their own health, as well as the health of surrounding people," Tert.am reported on June 18. The prime minister spent the evening walking the streets of Yerevan, where he praised people observing the sanitary rules and distributed masks, reported Radio Azatutyun on June 18.

Hospitals added 350 new beds, the health minister said on June 8. Two days earlier, a shortage had left 200 people in need of immediate medical care waiting to be hospitalized. Two patients in critical condition who were unable to access ICU beds died. A return to total lockdown was considered by the state and rejected, due to economic fallout and expectations that another quarantine would be widely violated. The number of emergency calls for domestic violence during the pandemic are higher than during the same period in 2019, reported EVN on June 1, while the number of criminal proceedings initiated from the calls has decreased.

Economy

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said on June 25 that it will provide a $20 million loan to private companies in Armenia impacted economically by the pandemic. While the government has approved 21 programs to provide social and economic assistance during the pandemic, the effects of those programs have not been equitable, Jam News reported on June 18. In some cases, police and wealthy business people received financial aid, though the programs were designed for the unemployed or economically vulnerable. The programs have also had the effect of bringing 87,000 unregistered workers out into the open, revealing the contours of the Armenian shadow economy. Pashinyan praised the performance of the Central Bank at keeping prices stable during the pandemic, Radio Armenia reported on June 15.

AZERBAIJAN

Azerbaijan has implemented a strict, stay-at-home quarantine across major cities from June 21 until at least until July 5. As under a previous regime used in April and May, residents must now send a text message to the authorities any time they want to leave home, and can do so only under a limited set of circumstances, including visiting the doctor or shopping for food. But unlike the earlier quarantine in April, people over the age of 65 may also request permission to go outside. Most commercial services are closed. The state road police say that residents of Baku, Sumgait and the Absheron Peninsula are not allowed to pass quarantine posts to travel to rural areas.

Restrictions

A "flash mob" organized by conservatory students sang "Long live Azerbaijan, long live the police" from a residential balcony, Jam News reported on June 26. The concert was widely panned on social media by people believing it was organized by the police. Azerbaijan is considering further restrictions on who may continue to work in light of the rising number of cases around the country, Trend reported on June 25. Police installed traffic cameras on secondary roads out of Baku after hundreds attempted to flee the city on June 20, JAM News reported on June 23. Officials had earlier tried to dig up these roads to make driving impossible; but drivers simply filled holes themselves to escape. Police checkpoints on main roads stop anyone from leaving the city. On a June 18 call, President Ilham Aliyev told Vladimir Putin that he would not be able to travel to Moscow for Victory Day celebrations on June 24, but would send a military delegation to participate in the parade, 1news.az reported. Cities were again under lockdown between June 14 and 16, with very few people allowed to venture outside their homes. The country has been gripped by a public backlash against law enforcement after police cracked down harshly on violators of the previous weekend lockdown. Baku residents seemed to take the second weekend of quarantine much more calmly than the first, reported Jam News on June 15, though the next day several dozen people protested police brutality in front of the Interior Ministry. Police broke up the rally shortly after it began, reported Jam News on June 16. The frustrations of hundreds of Azerbaijani labor migrants who lost their jobs in Russia and have been trying to get home for weeks blew up on the evening of June 15, with the Azerbaijanis staging a protest and Russian police breaking it up with tear gas and bludgeons. The border, in Russia's republic of Dagestan, has been closed since March 18. Eighty Azerbaijani citizens were detained following the clash, reported Ekho Kavkaza on June 18. The Motor Transport Service has required that taxi passengers sit in the back seat in order to maintain social distancing, Trend reported on June 17. Starting June 3, police began to fine citizens appearing in public without masks. The oncoming summer heat has made people reluctant to comply with mask regulations, Jam News reported, and some have begun to keep masks at hand nearby, only to don when they catch sight of police. Schools and most stores closed. Borders closed.

Health

Ambulance workers in eastern Azerbaijan are protesting poor working conditions and unpaid bonuses, OC Media reported on June 17.

Economy

The government will provide $110 in financial assistance to the unemployed in regions hardest-hit by the pandemic, including Baku, Sumgayit, Ganja and Lankaran, and the Absheron, Yevlakh, Jalilabad, and Masalli districts, reported OC Media on June 23.

Financial support for low-income families has also been extended until July 1, Trend reported on June 23.

GEORGIA

Restrictions

Georgia's Civil Aviation Agency said international flights will not resume until at least August 1, Agenda.ge reported on June 25. While Tbilisi has been eager to restart tourism, a major source of income, Economy Minister Natia Turnava said earlier that the government's priority is to protect the population from the epidemic.

The Head of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, Amiran Gamkrelidze, said that elections may be held in the fall and schools may reopen, reported Agenda.ge on June 22.

The head of a local transportation watchdog, Davit Meskhishvili, criticized the Georgian government about its management of public transport during the pandemic. Meskhishvili shared two photos on Facebook of passengers crammed together in a bus, and called for more stringent hygienic measures, including doubling the number of buses and personnel, as well as putting hand sanitizer dispensers in all public vehicles, OC Media reported on June 12.

Parliament has adopted a law requiring people to wear masks in indoor spaces, Interpress reported on June 12. The fines for noncompliance are 20 lari ($6.50) for individuals and 500 lari ($164) for businesses.

Voters will be provided with masks during October parliamentary elections, Interpress reported on June 11. Central Election Commission Chairperson Tamar Zhvania noted that maintaining social distancing during the elections would be impossible.

Health

World Health Organization Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge praised Georgia for its quick and early response to the pandemic, reported Agenda.ge on June 25.

The government's coronavirus working group is encouraging everyone to use the "Stop COVID" contract-tracing app, reported Interpress on June 17, calling it one of the most important components in fighting the pandemic. Tbilisi spent over 400,000 lari ($131,000) to purchase the app from an Austrian company, Agenda.ge reported on June 16.

On June 4, Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani offered his Armenian counterpart unspecified help fighting the pandemic. Petitioners in Georgia have asked the government to treat Armenian COVID-19 patients in Georgia, OC Media reported on June 5.

Economy

Wedding service providers protested in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi on June 19, calling on authorities to lift restrictions on the size of open-air weddings, OC Media reported on June 19. Attendance is currently capped at 10 people.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has promised 1.5 billion euros in favorable loans to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, reported Interpress News on June 19.

The Asian Development Bank's director for Georgia, Shane Rosenthal, praised the Georgian government's handling of the pandemic, noting the country's low infection rates. He offered five suggestions for economic recovery as the virus subsides, reported Agenda.ge on June 19.

Georgia's year-on-year external trade turnover for January-April 2020 saw a 16.8 percent decline, reported Agenda.ge on June 15.

Railway travel and domestic tourism reopened on June 15, OC Media reported. Authorities hope that these measures will help stimulate the economy after months of stagnation.

Plans to open the Georgian tourism sector to "green zone" countries may be put on hold as the pandemic in those states worsens, causing countries like Israel to ask Georgia to "postpone" the tourism restart, previously set for July 1, reported Interpress on June 10. Countries currently considered safe include Israel, Austria, Germany, Czechia, Greece and the Baltic states, reported OC Media on June 3. Czechia has said its citizens would be safe visiting Georgia.

BREAKAWAY TERRITORIES

The de facto government in Abkhazia declared a state of emergency on March 27, closing borders and stopping public transportation. It banned tourists, the mainstay of the economy, and closed most businesses. Schools closed on May 13. The territory eased several quarantine restrictions, allowing markets to reopen and public celebrations, such as weddings, to resume on June 15, though the borders remain closed. Abkhazia will temporarily reopen the Enguri Bridge from June 22-24 to allow residents to return home from Georgia. The de facto president of Abkhazia expressed concern that Russian aid had not been delivered to the territory so far this year, reported OC Media on June 5. Aslan Bzhaniya noted that revenues had been halved by the COVID-19 crisis, with little hope of recovery while income from tourism remains curtailed. South Ossetia, Georgia's other breakaway region, closed its border with Russia on April 5, including for freight, sealing the contested territory off for anyone without special government permission. It has extended the closure through June. The region's first case was confirmed on May 6. The patient arrived from Russia, state media reported. It is unclear how he passed the border, which has been closed. Two medical personnel have been infected in the region, reported Ekho Kavkaza on May 18. Outdoor seating in cafes, as well as open-air markets, have been allowed to reopen in South Ossetia, OC Media reported on June 12. As summer approaches and people move outdoors, police in South Ossetia say they will conduct spot checks in forests, parks and outdoor recreational areas to stop people from gathering in groups, official media reported on June 2. The Red Cross has delivered over $70,000 of PPE to hospitals in South Ossetia, OC Media reported on June 19. The ICRC has been the only international aid group to be actively involved in this disputed territory during the pandemic. Kindergartens in South Ossetia may reopen on July 1, state media reported on June 11. The de facto president of Nagorno-Karabakh extended the region's state of emergency on June 11 through July 11, reported Tert.

KAZAKHSTAN

Amid a surge in new infections, several cities are instituting weekend lockdowns June 27-28. Residents of the capital will again not be allowed to leave their homes with few exceptions, TengriNews reported on June 26. In Almaty, most non-essential businesses and public transportation will be closed. Five other cities in northern Kazakhstan including Kostanay will impose two-day lockdowns during the upcoming weekend, Reuters reported.

Restrictions

Kazakhstan replaced Health Minister Yelzhan Birtanov, who is sick with COVID-19, on June 25. Aleksei Tsoi, the approved candidate, was formerly the first vice minister of health.

A doctor in Aktau posted a video online of an overcrowded hospital with people being treated in corridors. The regional government published the video on June 25 to warn residents to stay indoors.

Hospitals in Almaty have suspended routine clinical appointments and preventative work due to the worsening of the pandemic, reported Fergana News on June 24. The duration of the new measures is unknown.

Almaty public health chief Kamaljan Nadyrov announced plans to convert a large sports complex into a hospital field for coronavirus cases, reported TengriNews on June 23. The same day, he also encouraged citizens to follow his example and donate plasma if they have recovered from COVID-19, Akipress reported.

Kazakhstan's former president Nursultan Nazarbayev has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is isolating himself, his press secretary revealed on June 18. The 79-year-old resigned last year but still wields considerable powers. He is one of several senior officials to contract the disease in recent days.

A number of quarantine measures have been put in place in the Almaty region, including the closure of parks and pools, TengriNews reported on June 19. Free movement within the region, as well as entry and exit, is still allowed, with the exception of people over 65 and minors.

Journalists found 64 graves in a cemetery for COVID-19 victims outside Almaty, Vyacheslav Abramov of Vlast.kz tweeted. The number of graves has doubled since the beginning of June, and does not align with official numbers on death from the virus, which remained at 13 in Almaty as of June 16. Almaty authorities are refusing to answer questions about the spread of COVID-19, Abramov tweeted on June 15. One concern local media are trying to address: official statistics appear to be undercounting positive tests and deaths.

Health

In Pavlodar, 30 COVID-19 patients are on ventilators in intensive care units, TengriNews reported on June 24, amid a steadily growing number of cases of double pneumonia in the region.

A top infectious disease specialist, Ainagul Baisheva, disputed rumors on social media that drinking vodka cures COVID-19, TengriNews reported on June 23. Baisheva called the theory "fake news," explaining that the amount of alcohol required to kill the virus would kill a human.

Health Ministry advisor Zhanar Suleimanova asked that people exhibiting mild symptoms, including a light fever, stay home and not appear for testing, reported TengriNews on June 22. Suleimanova also said she believes the virus is mutating, as fewer people are exhibiting serious cases of pneumonia, while more asymptomatic and light cases have been registered recently.

In Nur-Sultan nearly 500 people a day have been admitted to hospitals since the beginning of June, with every other patient suffering from viral pneumonia, TengriNews reported on June 17.

The head of Nur-Sultan's Department of Public Health warned of catastrophic days ahead if residents "continue to act carelessly," saying overworked doctors and nurses will not be able to cope with an additional surges of cases, reported TengriNews on June 17.

An internal report by the Health Ministry stated that a major reason so many doctors have become infected with the coronavirus is their negligence, reported Fergana News on June 16. The investigation reports that medical professionals in Almaty have failed repeatedly to follow sanitary protocols necessary to contain the pandemic. The statement echoes Almaty's former chief sanitary officer, Aizat Moldagasimova, who recently resigned after a backlash from doctors over her critique.

A recent outbreak at the Rakhat chocolate factory in Almaty began with a handful of positive diagnoses. Widespread testing revealed that 467 factory workers carried the virus but were asymptomatic, TengriNews reported on June 15. Deputy Health Minister Liyazat Aktayeva confirmed that an eventual vaccine against the coronavirus would not be compulsory, reported TengriNews on June 12, stating that "citizens retain the right to informed consent or refusal." COVID-19 patients have begun receiving antibody treatments with plasma transfusions from donors who have recovered from the virus, reported Fergana News on June 8. Nearly 600 police officers have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, reported TengriNews on June 9. No police fatalities have been recorded. A kindergarten in Petropavl closed for a 14-day period after a three-year-old attendee was confirmed to have COVID-19, reported TengriNews on June 9.

Economy

Kazakhstan has expanded the list of countries with which it has resumed flights, reported TengriNews on June 26: People traveling from Hungary, India, Germany, the Czech Republic and Malaysia now face minimal restrictions to entry. Kazakhstan resumed flights to Turkey, South Korea, Japan, China, and Thailand on June 20, reported Fergana News on June 22.

Finance Minister Yerulan Zhamaubaev assured the press on June 12 that governmental reserves could sufficiently cover a second wave of COVID-19, TengriNews reported.

KYRGYZSTAN

Restrictions

Amid a surge of infections, Bishkek's mayor has ordered residents to observe a weekend curfew starting at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, June 26, Akipress reported. Public transport will be shut and taxis banned.

Minibus drivers in Bishkek are seeking an increase in bus fare to 20 soms ($0.27) during the pandemic, reported 24.kg.

Rates of pneumonia are spiking, with 57 patients in Bishkek admitted for the condition overnight, reported Akipress on June 25.

City Hall pleaded with Bishkek residents on June 25 not to believe social media posts denying the virus, pointing to the 100 new cases that had been reported in the capital since the day before. He also threatened to close cafes and restaurants that do not properly observe sanitary regulations.

Vice Prime Minister Almazbek Baatirbekov has ordered government agencies to investigate remote work for their employees, 24.kg reported on June 25, in accordance with the surging pandemic.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov flew to Moscow to attend Victory Day celebrations, but on arrival two of his entourage tested positive for the coronavirus, reported Akipress on June 24. He stayed away.

If the number of coronavirus cases does not fall by mid-July, Bishkek will likely close down again, the city government's chief of staff said on June 23, 24.kg reported.

Officials in Bishkek are removing passengers without masks from public transport, reported 24.kg on June 22. Some city residents consider those efforts futile, reporting that those passengers expelled from one bus will simply board the next. "About 50 percent of the people on minibuses do not wear masks," wrote one Twitter user.

A new crisis center for victims of domestic violence has opened in response to the pandemic, reported Fergana News on June 19. In the first three months of this year, incidents of domestic violence rose 65 percent compared to the same period in 2019, Deputy Prime Minister Aida Ismailova said recently.

Deputy Education Minister Nurlan Omurov has announced that university classes in the fall will be held online, reported 24.kg on June 8. Parliamentary elections scheduled for October may be postponed due to the virus, reported 24.kg on June 3.

Health

President Sooronabi Jeenbekov has blamed regional and local leaders for not doing enough to prevent the virus from spreading, 24.kg reported on June 19. The president also called on restaurants and public transport companies to realize the role they play in facilitating infection and take appropriate measures.

President Jeenbekov threatened to sue members of the Cabinet of Ministers for taking a large group photo on June 17 in which only one person appears to be wearing a mask, reported Radio Ozodi on June 19. The photograph was taken after a ceremony for the new Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov. Boronov apologized for the photograph, and promised that he and members of his government would pay the appropriate fines. Jeenbekov has rarely appeared in a mask since the beginning of the pandemic.

Health Minister Sabirzhan Abdikarimov said that asymptomatic patients will no longer be admitted to hospitals, in contrast to previous policies, reported Kloop on June 16.

Children will not be required to pass a coronavirus test before beginning kindergarten this fall, 24.kg reported on June 9, only to provide a certificate of good health. Meanwhile, six kindergarten employees were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, reported Kloop the same day.

Economy

Kyrgyz students across Russia are unable to return home and they are falling increasingly into debt without part-time work to support their studies, Vecherny Bishkek reported on June 23. One student recorded a video on behalf of his peers pleading for help getting home.

Kyrgyzstan has sent humanitarian aid to ethnic Kyrgyz living in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, Akipress reported on June 22.

TAJIKISTAN

Parliament has approved legislation allowing fines for people not wearing masks, reported Avesta.tj on June 26. Both houses of parliament have also approved a contentious amendment allowing the police to find people for spreading false information about the coronavirus, reported Radio Ozodi on June 26.

Tajik civil rights organizations drafted an open letter to President Emomali Rahmon protesting a draft law which would fine people for spreading fake news on the pandemic, reported Fergana News on June 24. The letter pointed out protections of freedom of speech guaranteed to Tajiks both through the constitution and international treaties.

Thirty Tajik citizens who returned home from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan tested positive for the coronavirus, Fergana News reported on June 23. All were between the ages of 30 and 36 and were asymptomatic. They were among the 600-odd Tajik citizens previously stranded between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan who were transported home on June 19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) intends to send another mission to Tajikistan, Fergana News reported on June 5, noting "there are also suspicions that the authorities are either hiding cases or at the very least making little effort to detect them."

Tajikistan has blocked a website that is trying to independently track COVID-related deaths. The crowd-sourced site, kvtj.info, lists hundreds of deaths caused by COVID-19 or related pneumonia, many times the government's official tally.

Health

A second group of Polish health workers and WHO experts arrived in Tajikistan on June 14, Avesta News reported. The specialists are sharing their experience containing and treating the coronavirus with Tajik doctors.

According to the UN, over 1,700 medical workers in Tajikistan have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, Avesta reported on June 11. On June 8, medical personnel represented 36 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the country.

Economy

Tajikistan will receive a $50 million grant from the Asian Development Bank to help ease economic and social damage from the pandemic, reported Central Asia Media on June 24.

A 50-60 percent spike in the price of fertilizer is forcing farmers to skimp, which will reduce output, the United Nations in Tajikistan reported on June 15. "The use of agricultural inputs, particularly fertilizers for wheat production, is price sensitive. Farmers often use less fertilizers even with only slight increases in prices, leading to decreased yields and a consequent reduction of available food stocks," the report said. A reduced wheat harvest in 2019 has increased imports from Kazakhstan, the country's chief supplier, and prices are about 30 percent higher than a year ago. Wheat imports "still account for more than half of the domestic consumption needs of cereals, and wheat represents more than 90 percent of the cereal imports."

TURKMENISTAN

Authorities continue to deny the pandemic has reached the country.

The U.S. Embassy on June 23 warned that a number of people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 have appeared in Turkmenistan, though Ashgabat continues to insist the country is virus-free. The Embassy also warned that anyone taking a test "may be sent to involuntary quarantine at a government-selected facility at their own expense with no control over the amenities for an unspecified period of time." In response, the Foreign Ministry called the warnings "fake news," and described the Embassy statement as "counterproductive."

Ashgabat's hyper-secretiveness is evidenced by its chronic efforts to delay a visit from the World Health Organization. As long ago as May 8, Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov was assuring reporters that the WHO was welcome to come. And yet, the visit never happened. More recently, it has been suggested the delegation could arrive in June, but that too was untrue. Meredov has now promised the mission will definitely be coming in early July. Our Akhal-Teke columnist writes: "Given such evasiveness, the smart money is on the likelihood that Turkmenistan is, in fact, trying, and probably struggling, to cope with a coronavirus outbreak, which makes the sight of much of Ashgabat's international diplomatic community - including the WHO country representative - packed into one meeting room to discuss the pandemic all the more bewildering."

Amsterdam-based website Turkmen.news said on June 15 that there were at least 34 patients diagnosed with acute pneumonia at a regional hospital in Turkmenabat, which is just across the border from Uzbekistan. Unnamed sources cited by the website have described the number of people undergoing observation for pneumonia as unprecedented. The precedent of Tajikistan indicates that a surge of hospitalizations attributed to pneumonia is strongly suggestive of the arrival of the coronavirus in Turkmenistan. The government has steadfastly stuck, however, to the line that no cases have yet been detected.

Economy

Not a week passes now without a fresh report of public anger about food shortages in the regions. Vienna-based Chronicles of Turkmenistan reported on May 10 that the head of the Turkmenbashi district in the Dashoguz province was, while he was out inspecting cotton fields, manhandled by residents indignant at the scant supplies of subsidized flour at the local state store. People are particularly exercised that more emphasis has been placed in the area on cultivating cotton, which can be used to raise foreign currency but cannot be eaten, instead of wheat. Police eventually got involved, Chronicles reported

UZBEKISTAN

Restrictions

New cases of the coronavirus appeared in eight regions on June 23, with high concentrations in Khorezm, Surkhandarya and Tashkent, reported Podrobno on June 24.

In Tashkent, 71 neighborhoods have been labeled "red zones" for recent surges in infections, Podrobno reported on June 17; traffic entering and leaving these zones has been prohibited.

Soldiers from Uzbekistan, as well as 11 other countries, have arrived in Russia to prepare to take part in the Victory Day parade on June 24 marking 75 years since the end of World War II. President Vladimir Putin initially had postponed the celebration, held annually on May 9, due to the pandemic. Delegations from Azerbaijan, Armenia, China, Belarus, Mongolia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Serbia and Tajikistan are scheduled to attend, contributing to a total of 64,000 troops in the parade, Prodrobno reported on June 17.

Uzbekistan Airways is planning 18 additional charter flights between June 22 and July 5 to transport Uzbek citizens home from the countries where they were forced to reside during the epidemic, Fergana News reported on June 23. Destinations include New York, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Istanbul and Tel-Aviv.

Over 250 people are in quarantine after attending a wedding in the Muzrabad district of Surkhandarya Province, Central Asia Media reported on June 18.

Quarantine measures have been prolonged until August 1, reported Fergana News on June 14.

After weeks of confusion, authorities have confirmed that drivers in vehicles by themselves are not required to wear masks, Podrobno reported on June 15.

The country has been divided into zones to indicate the level of permitted movement: red, yellow and green. In the green zone, cars can move freely without special permits and more businesses are allowed to reopen.

Health

A 42-year-old from the Fergana region was found hanged in a quarantine container cell in Tashkent region, reported Fergana News on June 22. Authorities insist an investigation has begun and stress that the man did not have any known conflicts with medical staff or other quarantined persons. The man had tested for the coronavirus, but not yet received a result. The chief sanitary inspector of Uzbekistan denied allegations of manipulating the data on the number of coronavirus infections, Kun.uz reported on June 18. Hospitals will no longer admit patients with the coronavirus who are asymptomatic or only exhibit mild symptoms, Fergana News reported on June 17.

Economy

The number of officially unemployed persons in Uzbekistan has reached 2 million, an increase of about 600,000 since the start of the year, Central Asia Media reported on June 25.

The Asian Development Bank approved a $500 million loan to Uzbekistan for efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, reported Podrobno on June 25.

Uzbekistan has promised $3,000 to any visitor on an organized tour who is infected with the coronavirus, Fergana News reported on June 22. Flights between Tashkent and Turkey are scheduled to resume on July 1.

Despite the pandemic, exports of several types of produce to Russia have grown, reported Podrobno on June 15. Led by tomatoes, cabbages and lemons, the exports grew 42 percent year-on-year for the period January through April.

The government's decision to force businesses to pay for the treatment of COVID-19 patients who became infected working or visiting their property has ignited widespread indignation, Fergana News reported on June 15. Businesses protest that it is impossible to prove that anyone was infected in a particular location, and that these measures are an effort by the state to shift the cost of the pandemic to private enterprises.

Previous coronavirus dashboards:

June 15-21

June 8-14

June 1-7

May 25-31

May 18-24

May 11-17

May 4-10

April 27-May 3

April 20-26

April 13-19

April 6-12

March 31-April 5

March 23-30

March 16-22

Our recent headlines

Hundreds of Azerbaijanis languish on Russian border

The labor migrants are trying to return home after losing their jobs in the coronavirus pandemic. Tensions are rising, and a protest on the border has been violently broken up by Russian police.

Turkmenistan: Is coronavirus facade slipping?

A "pneumonia" outbreak, more floods and a warm Russian embrace: this and more in our weekly Turkmenistan bulletin.

Kyrgyzstan: COVID-19 brings pain, but no gain, to fitness industry

New precautions make exercising an unappealing undertaking - for those who can still afford it.

Tajikistan: COVID-19 outbreak offers cover for fresh assault on free press

It's open season on journalists in Tajikistan and officials aren't shy about blaming the victims.

Azerbaijan imposes second weekend lockdown amid anti-police outrage

The authorities have indicated some sensitivity to the public mood, announcing that they are investigating evidence of excessive use of force.

Kazakhstan changes methodology, lowers COVID count

The government has altered how it tallies infections and deaths to favor rosier statistics.

Kazakhstan: New study uses COVID-19 lockdown to isolate causes of air pollution

Pollution fell along with traffic during quarantine, but airborne levels of several toxic chemicals rose far above WHO limits.

Georgia offers Armenia help to fight COVID-19

The neighborly gesture comes after the two countries sparred over their respective responses to the pandemic.

Despite stimulus efforts, many Armenian workers fall through the cracks

In several cases, the employers themselves have been the ones thwarting their workers from getting stimulus money.

Georgia's tourism reopening to be selective

Georgia is getting ready to host tourists, but would-be backpackers should not get their hopes up.

The mystery of Tajikistan's "win" on COVID-19

Officials are poised to reopen the country only weeks after the crisis began.

More Central Asia News

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