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COVID-19: 'Virus-Free' Turkmenistan Reportedly Locks Down Two Major Hospitals


An employee told RFE/RL that the hospital was overwhelmed with patients with pneumonia, including people in grave condition, some of whom had died. (illustrative photo)

The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 435,000, with more than 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.

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan, the only country in Central Asia that has not officially registered coronavirus cases, has reportedly locked down two major hospitals amid concerns of a possible COVID-19 outbreak.

Sources close to health authorities told RFE/RL on June 15 that medical personnel at the Infection Hospital in Ashgabat had not been allowed to leave the facility for days and were barred from using phones.

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"One of the physicians managed to call his relatives and told them to leave their homes as little as possible and to not send their children to kindergartens," one source said.

A hospital employee told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that the medical institution was overwhelmed with patients with pneumonia, including people in grave condition, some of whom had died.

Sources close to local health authorities in the capital of the eastern Lebap province, Turkmenabat, told RFE/RL on June 15 that a major hospital in the city had been locked down as well after a coronavirus test of one nurse came positive for the second time.

According to the sources, the hospital is currently cordoned off by police and its medical personnel for the first time since the pandemic had started received individual protection garments and equipment.

Another source close to the government told RFE/RL that Turkmen officials were getting ready to officially announce for the first time registered coronavirus cases in the country. It has been impossible to get either confirmation or denial of that information from the officials of the tightly controlled Central Asian nation.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Turkmen Service
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