Sun, 20 Sep 2020

The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 690,000, with more than 18 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

A 101-year-old Kyrgyz man has recovered from COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, Health Minister Ainura Akmatova has said.

Akmatova said that the man, whose identity was not disclosed, was released from a hospital on August 3 along with a 80-year-old man, who also recovered from COVID-19.

Akmatova also said that in the last 24 hours, 410 new coronavirus cases had been registered in the country, bringing the total number of the cases to 37,129, including 1,420 deaths.

In Kazakhstan, dozens of vendors rallied in the capital, Nur-Sultan, on August 3, demanding that city authorities allow them to resume their activity at the Artyom shopping mall.

Kazakhstan on July 29 extended its lockdown over the coronavirus for two more weeks until mid-August.

The vendors have also rejected a 42,000-tenge ($100) relief sum offered by the government to compensate for the losses caused by the lockdown, saying it is insufficient.

Health Minister Aleksei Tsoi had said that as of August 1, Kazakhstan would start adding patients who died of acute pneumonia -- which is on the rise in the country -- to the COVID-19 death toll statistics.

However, on August 3, he gave the numbers separately, saying that the total number of registered coronavirus cases was 92,662, including 1,058 deaths, while the number of pneumonia cases registered in the country between January 1 and August 2 was 256,541, including 4,042 deaths.

Tsoi added that last year, the number of pneumonia deaths in the country in the same period was 2,333, almost 50 percent less than this year.

Serious concerns have been raised about the pneumonia data in Kazakhstan. From July 1 to July 8, Kazakhstan registered 56,809 cases of pneumonia -- on top of the confirmed cases of COVID-19.

These pneumonia cases included 'common' pneumonia -- viral (7,348) and bacterial (9,759) -- as well as 39,702 'unspecified' viral pneumonia cases that present a course of disease similar to COVID-19, according to the Health Ministry.

RFE/RL's Coronavirus Crisis Archive

Features and analysis, videos, and infographics explore how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the countries in our broadcast area.

In neighboring Uzbekistan, the Employment and Labor Ministry said on August 3 that unemployment in Central Asia's most populous state had reached 13.2 percent since January.

According to the ministry, the unemployment rise in the country of 32 million was caused by restrictions imposed to slow down the pandemic.

Uzbek health authorities said that as of August 3, the number of coronavirus cases in the country was 25,828, including 155 deaths.

In Tajikistan, health authorities said on August 3 that over the weekend, 86 new coronavirus cases were registered, bringing the total number to 7,495, of whom 61 people died.

However, an investigative report by RFE/RL's Tajik Service in June revealed that the real number of lethal cases of COVID-19 in the country might be several hundred, including dozens of physicians and nurses who treated COVID-19 patients.

Turkmenistan is the only county in the region that has not registered a single coronavirus case, but 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 Ashgabat, the capital, morgues release the bodies of people who officially died of pneumonia wrapped in plastic bags and covered with a chlorine-penetrated fabric, local residents who lost loved ones told RFE/RL.

In some parts of the country, quarantine-like zones have been established, and some factories are being shut down, RFE/RL correspondents report.

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 tightly controlled energy-rich country.

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

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

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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