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COVID-19: Azerbaijan Reinstates Lockdown; Pakistan Opens Afghan Border Crossing


Cleaners disinfect the streets of Baku amid a coronavirus lockdown. (file photo)

The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 460,000, with more than 8.8 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the respiratory illness.

Here's a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL's broadcast regions.

Azerbaijan

Highlighting the difficulty of keeping a balance between the need to reopen hard-pressed economies and the risk of a new surge in infections, Azerbaijan on June 21 reinstated a tight lockdown to contain a spike in new cases that followed the easing of restrictions weeks ago.

Azerbaijan imposed a state of emergency to contain the outbreak on March 24. It was then lifted on May 31, with most restrictions relaxed.

But now Azerbaijanis will only be allowed to leave home "once a day for a maximum of two hours after receiving permission via text message" from the authorities, Prime Minister Ali Asadov said in a statement on June 21.

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The new measures will remain in force until August 1 in the capital, Baku, and several other major cities and provinces.

Shopping malls, cafes, restaurants, and hair salons were meanwhile ordered to close as of June 21, along with cultural and educational institutions.

The move came after the number of infections in the oil-rich nation doubled in the space of the last two weeks.

Overall, the country of around 10 million people has so far reported 12,238 cases of the coronavirus and 148 deaths.

Pakistan

Pakistan announced it was reopening a key border crossing with Afghanistan on June 22 to allow trade between the neighbors.

Trucks carrying fruits, vegetables, and other items will start crossing the Ghulam Khan border in northwestern North Waziristan district.

Pakistan has already reopened its border with Iran.

Pakistan put its entire population of 220 million in lockdown in March, but the government last month eased restrictions, saying it was necessary to save the economy even though cases went up.

On June 21, Pakistan reported 119 more COVID-19 deaths and 4,951 new cases, raising its total to 176,617 cases including 3,501 fatalities. Critics say, however, that a lack of sufficient testing is preventing a clearer picture of the extent of the outbreak in the country.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa
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