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COVID-19: Turkmenistan Imposes Restrictions 'To Prevent' Outbreak

Turkmen women are seen wearing face masks in Ashgabat on July 13, where they had been banned just 2 week before.

The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 615,000, with nearly 15 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.

Central Asia

Turkmenistan, the only country in Central Asia that has not confirmed a single coronavirus case within its borders, has imposed restrictions to "prevent" an outbreak of the deadly virus.

The restrictions were imposed for the period between July 2 and August 1, during which large shopping malls, marketplaces, theaters, parks, and sports venues will be closed.

Restaurants, cafeterias, and fast food businesses are also temporarily closed and can only offer food delivery services.

RFE/RL correspondents report from the country that in recent days, the Health Ministry has been sending text messages to the tightly controlled country’s residents, urging them to wear masks outdoors to "thwart the adverse effect of weather".

Although Turkmen officials have not formally registered coronavirus cases, RFE/RL correspondents have reported that local hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients with pneumonia symptoms, some of whom, including medical personnel, have died.

In some parts of the country, so-called quarantine zones have been established, while some industrial facilities are being shut down, RFE/RL correspondents report.

Sources in Turkmenistan told RFE/RL on July 20 that the mayor of the country's eastern Farap district, Hasan Metkuliyev, had died of COVID-19.

The leader of a World Health Organization mission, Catherine Smallwood, told a press conference in Ashgabat on July 15 that the mission had concerns about reports of pneumonia in the energy-rich country.

She advised the Turkmen government to activate "the critical public health measures in Turkmenistan, as if COVID-19 was circulating."

In neighboring Uzbekistan, 74 hospitals in the capital, Tashkent, have been ordered to remain open 24 hours a day.

A member of the state commission on efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Barno Odilova, said on July 21 that medical personnel at the hospitals had started working 12-hour shifts to handle the patient load.

Odilova added that each hospital now had a mobile team involved in outpatient treatment and delivering medicines to patients' homes for free.

According to Odilova, hospitals in Tashkent have been provided with 750 mobile phones to increase the capacity of call-centers operating around the clock.

As of July 22, the number of coronavirus cases in Central Asia's most-populous country of 32 million was 18,171, including 96 deaths.

In Tajikistan, as of July 21 the number of coronavirus cases was officially reported as 6,967, including 57 deaths.

However, an investigative report by RFE/RL's Tajik Service last month revealed that the real number of lethal cases of COVID-19 in the country might be several hundreds.

In Kyrgyzstan, health officials said on July 22 that 12,563 COVID-19 patients were currently being treated in hospitals.

In general, since mid-March, the number of registered coronavirus cases in the country was reported as 29,359, of whom 15,851 recovered and 1,123 died.

In Kazakhstan, as of July 22, the number of coronavirus case was reported as 75,153, including 610 deaths.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Turkmen, and Uzbek services
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