Turkmenistan’s Commission to Combat the Spread of Disease Steps Up Restrictions – turkmen.news Exclusive
The new Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been found in the coastal city of Turkmenbashi (formerly Krasnovodsk), according to turkmen.news sources in different Turkmen government departments. The infected person is from the Philippines and is an employee of Dragon Oil, the well informed sources said. Turkmen.news has confirmation of the exact date of his arrival in Turkmenistan and the country from which he came.
Sources told turkmen.news that the case is the reason for the imposition of tough quarantine conditions in mid-January. In the past few days Turkmenistan’s Emergency Commission to Combat the Spread of Disease approved a list of new requirements and restrictions to prevent COVID-19. The main measures include restricting air, rail and road transport between regions, the cancellation of repatriation flights from abroad, restrictions on the work of eateries and leisure facilities, the strengthening (in fact the resumption) of control on the boundaries between districts and regional centers, and travel restrictions on residents of border areas.
Sources report a total blockade of Lebap region’s Farap district, which borders Uzbekistan.
According to preliminary data, the illness caused by the Omicron variant is generally milder than other strains of COVID-19. However, this variant is much more contagious than its predecessors. It could, therefore, cause significant spikes in infections and, subsequently, deaths (while on average people are not so seriously ill, the high rate of spread of the disease leads to a larger number of patients for whom it is potentially very dangerous).
The government is continuing to deny the presence of coronavirus in Turkmenistan despite numerous testimonies to the contrary. Turkmen.news has managed to confirm conclusively the deaths of some 70 people from COVID-19. They include the president’s adviser on oil and gas, Yagshigeldi Kakaev; Turkish diplomat Kemal Uckun; and the head of Farap distict, Hasan Metkuliev. The names of dozens of doctors, teachers, and private businessmen also feature in our memorial record.
Judging from the frequency of reports on deaths and infections, Turkmenistan has experienced three waves of the pandemic: summer 2020, late 2020-early 2021, and August-September 2021. It may soon be time to talk of a fourth, Omicron, wave.
At the end of November the World Health Organization completed its second mission to Turkmenistan, after which it recommended directly that the authorities “step up efforts to find” coronavirus. There are now four countries in the world untouched by the pandemic: Turkmenistan, North Korea, Tuvalu, and Nauru. While the latter two are island states and really could have kept infections out, experts no longer believe that the virus is not present in the two authoritarian states.
In the last months of 2021 Turkmenistan’s authorities avoided talking about coronavirus directly and the topic was covered in a veil of silence. The country even seemed close to acknowledging the presence of infection. However, on December 21, after the WHO visit, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov again declared: “We can now say that as a result of such extensive work no cases of coronavirus infection have been found in Turkmenistan.”
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