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Majlis Podcast: Central Asia Eases Lockdowns And Coronavirus Cases Shoot Up

A Kazakh health worker takes a swab from a woman at a mobile testing station for COVID-19 in Almaty earlier this week.

At the beginning of June, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan started to ease restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

It was not long before all three countries started registering record numbers of new cases.

Since mid-June, Kazakhstan has been reporting around 1,000 new cases every day. Hospitals are rapidly filling, and top officials, including the former president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, have reportedly been infected.

Just after the middle of June, Kyrgyzstan started reporting more than 100 cases a day, where earlier the country was reporting, at most, dozens of cases daily.

Uzbekistan reported its first COVID-19 cases in mid-March and by the start of June had registered a total of some 3,600 cases, but by June 19 that number had grown to nearly 6,000.

Tajikistan and especially Turkmenistan remain something of a mystery. The figures from Tajikistan have gradually crept upwards during June but anecdotal evidence suggests it is much higher. In Turkmenistan, where the government continues to deny any cases of the coronavirus, deaths from pneumonia are unusually high and several hospitals have been put under quarantine.

None of the figures Central Asian governments have provided appear credible but it seems apparent that the virus is spreading rapidly.

On the latest Majlis Podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager for South and Central Asia, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion about the recent spike in cases of the coronavirus in Central Asia, looking at what the governments and people of these countries are, and are not doing about it.

This week's guests are, from Almaty, Gulnara Zhakupova, a social worker based in Kazakhstan; from Bishkek, Aibek Mukametov, the head of the health-care program at the Soros Foundation in Kyrgyzstan; from Nur-Sultan, Darkhan Umirbekov, a journalist who has been covering Kazakhstan's battle with the coronavirus, and Bruce Pannier, author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.

Majlis Podcast: Central Asia Eases Lockdowns And Coronavirus Cases Shoot Up
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Listen to the podcast above or subscribe to the Majlis on iTunes or on Google Podcasts.

About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.​

The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.


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