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Coronavirus Fears Trigger Panic-Buying In Tajikistan

DUSHANBE -- Authorities in Tajikistan are trying to reassure the population that the Central Asian nation has enough food supplies, after panic-buying over coronavirus fears caused food price hikes and shortages.

The Health and Social Welfare Ministry said on March 5 that there is enough food in Tajikistan to feed the country’s 9 million people for two years.

Meanwhile, the Economy and Trade Ministry called on people “not to believe baseless rumors” regarding food shortages.

The statements came a day after Tajiks on March 4 rushed to bazaars to stockpile foodstuffs, causing sudden price hikes and shortages of flour and other staples.

Prices began to return to normal on March 5.

The panic-buying followed a decision to suspend mosque prayers as a precaution against the spreading of the coronavirus in mostly Muslim Tajikistan.

The government also canceled traditional public festivities related to the upcoming Norouz celebrations in the capital, Dushanbe.

No confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in the country bordering China, where the virus emerged.

The COVID-19 disease has killed more than 3,000 people and infected tens of thousands more, mainly in China. The virus has spread to more than 60 other countries.