Coronavirus Update In The Caucasus & Central Asia
Last updated May 12.
Georgia said on May 12 that it has had 639 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and eleven deaths, one of the lowest infection rates in the region. Even so the virus is still infecting people. All food markets have been closed in Georgia, while Police are stopping cars travelling into Tbilisi and taking the temperatures of motorists. Schools and universities have been closed since March 2 and shopping malls, shops and other businesses were closed two weeks later. People have been confined to their homes, only allowed out for trips to the pharmacy, to buy groceries, to the post office and the bank.
3,392 people have been infected with the coronavirus in the country and that 46 people have died, The Armenian authorities said on May 12. This is the highest infection rate in the Central Asia and South Caucasus region. A state of emergency has been imposed until May 14, although some manufacturing businesses have been allowed to restart operations. Schools and universities have been closed for the duration of the state of emergency, people told to work from home and police given powers to ask for people’s papers if they are on the street. Armenia’s borders with neighbours Iran and Georgia have also been closed during the state of emergency.
Azerbaijan has reported 2,589 coronavirus infections, with 32 deaths. Azerbaijan has imposed one of the harshest lockdown protocols, although it has not yet formally announced a state of emergency. Locals wanting to leave their homes will now have to send an SMS to a police control centre to get permission. People are only allowed to leave their home to go to a funeral, visit a shop or a pharmacy or a bank or to see a doctor. The Azerbaijaini government extended its lockdown over the country until May 31, although it also said that it would start to allow some shops to reopen. Reports say that some residents have been fined up to $60 for breaking the lockdown protocols. In addition to shops and businesses, taxis and public transport have been closed.
Officials said on May 12 that Kazakhstan has 5,279 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, mostly in Almaty and Nur-Sultan, with 32 dead. Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that the state of emergency will lock down the country’s biggest cities until May 11. Regional governments and city authorities have been told to slowly allow some businesses, under strict controls, to reopen. Kazakh police have been using drones to patrol streets. People have been ordered off the streets of Kazakhstan’s cities in a strict lockdown. People are only allowed to leave their homes every other day to buy food or to go to a doctor.
Kyrgyzstan has reported 1,016 infections of the coronavirus, including twelve deaths, as at May 12. Most have been reported in the south of the country and are blamed on pilgrims returning from the Hajj in Saudi Arabia. The highest concentration of confirmed coronavirus cases is in Osh and Jala-Abad. Officials said that around a third of the recorded cases of the coronavirus are health workers, highlighting the lack of personal protective equipment in Kyrgyzstan for health workers.
The authorities have placed Kyrgyzstan’s major cities under a lockdown. Citizens are only allowed to leave their homes to buy food ro to go to the doctor. Some essential businesses, such as a flour producer in Bishkek, have complained that police have prevented their workers from getting to work.
People are allowed to go no further than 100m from their homes. Like other countries in the region, Kyrgyzstan has closed its borders and cut its air links during the coronavirus pandemic. On April 28, it extended its state of emergency and lockdown rules until May 10.
Tajikistan has now begun reporting coronavirus cases after previously stating zero cases. As at May 12, Covid-19 infections have reached 661 with 21 fatalities. Russia is likely to fall into a recession this year because of the pandemic, and a fall in oil prices, and this is bad news for Tajikistan. Tajikistan relies on Russia for remittances to prop up its GDP. With remittances drying up, its GDP growth will be stunted.
Turkmenistan has not reported any cases of the coronavirus and, instead, it celebrated World Health Day with mass bike rides across the country. Even so, the government is preparing the country for an economic knock-on and has imposed some lockdown features across the country. It has recently blocked a WHO check. More information here.
Uzbekistan has said on May 4 that it now has 2,509 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Ten people have died. The Uzbek authorities rolled out a lockdown across the country from March 24. Gatherings of more than three people are banned and businesses have been told to work from home. Construction, such an important part of the economy, has been allowed to continue.
Inter-regional transport between Uzbekistan’s 12 provinces has been stopped, and a decree issued to make car use illegal except for medical reasons or to buy food.
Police, with backup from the National Guard, patrol the streets of Uzbekistan’s cities, challenging people on why they are not at home. Facemasks on the street, have also become mandatory. Uzbekistan has closed its borders and cut air links. Uzbekistan’s government said that it was going to start easing lockdown restrictions with a staggered red, orange and green system that twill signify an areas infection level.
We are grateful to The Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin.
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Silk Road Briefing is written by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm provides strategic analysis, legal, tax and operational advisory services across Eurasia and has done since 1992. We maintain 28 offices throughout the region and assist foreign governments and MNC’s develop regional strategies in addition to foreign investment advice for investors throughout Asia. Please contact us at email@example.com or visit us at www.dezshira.com