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COVID-19: Russia overtakes China with more than 87,100 cases

COVID-19 (Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 206,000 with nearly 3 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.

Here’s a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL’s broadcast regions.

Russia

Russia has overtaken mainland China in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

The Russian authorities reported 6,198 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total to 87,147. That’s about 3,200 more than those reported by the Chinese authorities — 83,912.

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The virus, which first emerged in China, has caused a total of 794 deaths in neighboring Russia.

Meanwhile, pressure rose on the Russian government to consider easing lockdown restrictions for businesses to help shore up the rattled economy.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishushin on April 27 asked his government to submit proposals this week to ease some of the restrictions on businesses.

“As soon as the situation will be changing for good, we would need to consider a step-by-step cancellation of restrictions on certain companies…operations,” he told an online government meeting.

The head of the state consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova, told state television that, in her opinion, restrictions should be in place until May 12.

Russia has been on lockdown since President Vladimir Putin announced the closure of most public spaces in late March. These measures are due to expire on April 30 and Putin has not announced plans to extend them.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan will start easing some restrictions imposed on March 16 to slow down the spread of the coronavirus even as it extends a countrywide state of emergency.

President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev said on April 27 that flights between Nur-Sultan, the capital, and the Central Asian nation’s largest city, Almaty, will resume operations on May 1, while the state of emergency that was due to be lifted on April 30 will be prolonged until May 11.

Kazakh health authorities said that the number of registered coronavirus cases in the country was 2,780, including 25 deaths, the highest official COVID-19 death toll in the region.

Georgia

Georgia has started easing restrictions imposed to slow down coronavirus spread, though a ban on travel between major cities remains.

Georgian government spokesman Irakli Chikovani told reporters in Tbilisi that as of April 27, food markets and taxi services could resume operations in Georgian towns and cities.

Chikovani added that restrictions to online trade and delivery had been also lifted, except in areas where stricter limitations had been introduced due to extreme situations over the pandemic.

According to Chikovani, restrictions were lifted only for companies, facilities, and organizations that fully complied with the instructions and recommendations of the Health Ministry regarding the coronavirus.

The movement ban between Georgia’s major cities, the capital Tbilisi, Rustavi, Batumi, and Kutaisi, remains and as does a curfew regime across the country between 9.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m.

Chikovani added that restrictions may be reimposed in the future if the situation with the virus worsens.

As of April 27, the number of coronavirus cases in the South Caucasus nation was officially reported as 496, including six deaths.

Uzbekistan

In Uzbekistan, Inspector General Nurmat Otabekov said on April 27 that the number of coronavirus cases in the country had reached 1,887, including eight deaths.

Over the weekend the Uzbek government allowed some retailers and other businesses to reopen after being closed for weeks due to the pandemic.

Among those allowed to resume operations were retailers of construction materials, car parts, seeds and seedlings, as well as services such as dry cleaners, insurers, notaries, and those servicing construction and agricultural machinery.

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan

In Kyrgyzstan, Deputy Health Minister Nurbolot Usonov said on April 27 that 695 coronavirus cases had been recorded in the country, including eight deaths.

In Tajikistan, where not a single coronavirus case had been officially reported as of April 27, all public events were suspended and kindergartens, schools, and colleges were closed until May 10 to prevent the “spread of infectious diseases.”

While the Tajik government refuses to admit to any cases, the country reportedly has seen a suspicious increase recently in the number of deaths being attributed by government health officials to pneumonia.

Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are two Central Asian countries where no coronavirus cases have been reported, but experts are skeptical given the lack of transparency within their governments and a lack of independent media.

Turkmenistan marked national Horse Day on April 26, an annual holiday particularly loved by authoritarian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

The country continues to host crowded festivities, sports competitions, and horse races despite the coronavirus pandemic.