05/07/2020, 12.18
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The pandemic spreads to Tajikistan

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The country - along with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - was part of the "Mongolian triangle of denial ", which said it could not be touched. So far there are 230 cases and three deaths. A hospital for Covid-19 patients with 3 thousand beds is under construction. Aid from all over the world is requested, but above all from the former Soviet "solidarity". Censorship in the press.

Dušanbe (AsiaNews) - Tajikistan is also forced to take measures and seek help to deal with the pandemic. Until now it had been one of the nation’s most in "denial" countries on the Covid-19 emergency, having so far ruled out being involved. Instead, on May 4, the Ministry of Health confirmed 230 cases of infection, declaring the need to organize the social and health protection of the population. Three victims so far ascertained; the largest number of cases, 110, occurred in the capital Dušanbe.

Even 14 officers of the KGB (who kept the abbreviation of Soviet times here) are hospitalized in the capital. Akhbor website revealed that these include the General Radzhabali Rakhmonal, 52-year-old grandson of President Emomali Rakhmon. Officers are forced to pass the coronavirus test. Other high-ranking officials have been hospitalized, including the vice-president of the popular-democratic party currently in power, Khajriniso Jusufi, the vice-president of the National Bank, and several public figures such as poets, writers, musicians and theologians.

Also in Tajikistan, the measures of isolation and social distancing well known to the whole world were therefore applied, including the mandatory use of masks and gloves. The schools have already been closed for the summer holidays, and lessons will only officially resume on August 17th.

The football championship has been interrupted, and since April 18 the Ulema council of the country's Islamic center has prohibited celebrations in mosques. There is considerable skepticism among the population about the effectiveness of government measures, and there is talk of hospitals now collapsing and a lack of means of protection for medical personnel.

The Tajik government has asked for financial aid from all over the world: at present, more than 13 million euros in funding have been granted: 11 million from the World Bank, one million from Germany, 800 thousand from the United States and 100 thousand from the Asian Development Bank . Russia and China have offered over 20,000 test kits, Unicef's protective clothing for doctors, the UN Development Program has also offered economic support for over $ 600,000.

Neighbors Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, countries of the "Mongolian triangle of denial ", also offered help to neighboring Tajikistan, although they also had to take protective measures, although not in an official form. Several groups of volunteers and activists have formed among the Tajik population, raising funds for aid to medical personnel. The European Union has also promised funds and humanitarian aid, on the arrival and distribution of which doubts and perplexities have been expressed in various media.

The ministry of health expresses optimism, as the country "can exploit the advantage of using strategies already developed by neighboring countries, such as Russia and China, but also Uzbekistan and Belarus, where the number of infected is already in the exhaustion phase ". "Ex-Soviet" solidarity is enhanced as a privileged way to liberation from the pandemic.

In the capital Dušanbe, the construction of some temporary hospitals for the treatment of coronavirus has also started, for a total of at least 3 thousand beds. Currently in the city there are over 30 hospitals with 5284 beds and over 5 thousand doctors and paramedics, who also complain of a lack in medical equipment to fight the virus.

The problem also affects the media, which are subject to censorship on the issue of Covid-19. On May 3, on the occasion of the Free Press Day, Tajik journalists expressed their concerns by denouncing the government's reticence in reacting to the crisis and the attempts by the authorities to silence everything. The general manager of the media-holding Asia-plus, Umed Babakhanov (photo 2), believes that these events are the "litmus test" of free information not only in Tajikistan, but in the whole world.

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