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COVID-19: Russia Hits Record Fatalities; 'Coronavirus Free' Tajikistan Shuts Schools

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Vehicles spray disinfectant as they sanitize a road near the main building of the Lomonosov Moscow State University in Moscow on April 24.

The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 191,000 with over 2.7 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.

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

Russia

Russia has recorded its largest single day tally of fatalities from the novel coronavirus as the number of new cases reached nearly 6,000.

The country registered 66 deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, Russian media reported on April 25, bringing the fatality total from the disease to 681.

Russia's death tally from COVID-19 is very low compared to Western Europe and the United States and has raised questions about whether fatalities are being artificially lowered by ascribing them to other causes, such as pneumonia.

New cases rose by nearly 6,000 over the past 24 hours, lifting the total number of registered cases in Russia to just under 75,000.

Eight children at a Russian military academy in Tver, a town about 180 kilometers from Moscow, have been infected with the disease, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on April 25.

Meanwhile, Dmitry Novikov, a member of the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, said he had contracted COVID-19.

Novikov is the second Communist Party Duma deputy to catch the virus after Leonid Kalashnikov, who is in a hospital with a fever.

Belarus

Thousands of Belarusians have taken part in a day of civic labor even as the new coronavirus spreads in the former Soviet republic.

Citizens working in groups planted trees and cleaned parks and streets on April 25 as part of the annual event that dates back to the communist period.

Belarusian President Alyaksander Lukashenka, who has repeatedly dismissed concerns about the virus, took part in the government-decreed event, as did other state officials.

At one park, Belarusian state television showed bottles of antiseptic available for workers, few of whom wore face masks as they worked.

Belarus has been criticized for not imposing social-distancing measures or restricting public activities in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The country has nearly 10,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and nearly 70 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Tajikistan

Even as the lack of an officially declared coronavirus infection draws skepticism, Tajikistan has announced that it will close schools for two weeks, ban public gatherings, and temporarily halt grain exports as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government's body tasked with preventing a coronavirus outbreak announced on April 25 that the measures will affect institutions of learning from preschool to high school, and were implemented in order to "protect the public health and safety of the population, especially children and adolescents."

Universities will continue to operate, according to Ministry of Education's press center.

The suspension of grain exports is intended to conserve domestic supplies, according to the government, while the ban on public gatherings will affect cinemas, theaters, and sporting events.

Tajikistan borders China, where the coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 2.8 million people and killed nearly 198,000 originated.

But the Central Asian country has officially yet to record a coronavirus case, leading to concerns that officials could be hiding the presence of infections or that the country's beleaguered health-care sector may not be testing adequately.

Galina Perfiliyeva, a representative for the World Health Organization, in an April 22 interview reversed earlier comments and said that "to categorically state that there are no cases [of coronavirus] in the country is not possible."

The Muslim-majority country of nearly 9 million people has shut the borders and closed mosques, but has continued to hold events such as soccer games, although without spectators.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Tajik Service, RBK, Novaya gazeta, AP, Mir24, and TASS
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