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Central Asia countries take additional measures against COVID-19

20 March 2020

The five Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are taking additional measures to slow, or prevent, the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak in their territories, RFE/RL reports.

Uzbekistan's Transport Ministry said on its Telegram channel that international terrestrial and air passenger traffic has been suspended for 40 days as of March 20.

The regulation does not affect cargo transportation.

Also on March 20, state-run media in Uzbekistan reported that President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a decree to establish an anti-crisis fund of $1 billion to deal with the effects of the coronavirus.

In neighboring Kazakhstan, five more coronavirus cases were reported on March 20, including the first two cases outside Nur-Sultan, the capital, and the country's largest city, Almaty.

With three more cases in Almaty and two in the central city of Qaraghandy, the number of coronavirus cases in Kazakhstan is now 49.

As of March 19, Nur-Sultan and Almaty have been sealed off with police, security forces, and military personnel blocking roads and highways inside and around the two cities.

In Kyrgyzstan, a state of emergency was announced in the southern district of Nookat in the Osh province, where another three coronavirus cases were reported on March 20, bringing the total number to six. Earlier, a state of emergency was announced in the Suzak district of the southern Jalal-Abad province, where three men tested positive for the coronavirus.

All six persons recently returned to Kyrgyzstan from Saudi Arabia.

In Tajikistan, the government suspended all international flights as of March 20. No coronavirus cases have been reported in Tajikistan so far.

In Turkmenistan, RFE/RL correspondents report that as of March 19, Ashgabat, the capital, has been surrounded with checkpoints to regulate entrances into the city. Only residents of Ashgabat can enter the city now. No coronavirus cases were officially recorded.

According to the correspondents, intercity movement in Turkmenistan has also been restricted.