COVID-19: Kyrgyzstan Observes National Day Of Mourning; Uzbek Deputy Finance Minister Dies


The global death toll from the coronavirus is around 668,000, with more than 17 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

Flags are flying at half-staff in Kyrgyzstan as the country observes a national day of mourning to commemorate victims of the coronavirus pandemic that has swept across the Central Asian nation.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov and other top officials attended a mourning ceremony on July 30 at the Ata-Beiit memorial complex, where a mass prayer was said to honor the deadly infection's victims.

According to the Health Ministry, the number of coronavirus cases in Kyrgyzstan as of July 30 was 35,143, of which 24,474 people had recovered and 1,364 patients had died.

In Kazakhstan, Sanitary Inspector-General Aizhan Esmaghambetova announced that as of July 31 masks must be worn by people when they are outdoors, in shops, pharmacies, public transportation, and other public places.

As of July 30, the number of coronavirus cases in the country was reported at 87,644, including 793 deaths.

In neighboring Uzbekistan, authorities said on July 29 that Deputy Finance Minister Yorqin Tursunov had died of COVID-19 at the age of 55.

According to the Finance Ministry, Tursunov was hospitalized with acute COVID-19 symptoms two days earlier.

Also on July 29, the country's Sanitary Inspector-General Nurmat Otabekov said he had tested positive and is being treated.

Uzbek health authorities said that as of late on July 29, the number of coronavirus cases in the country was 22,585, including 131 deaths.

In Tajikistan, the chairman of the State Taxation Committee, Nusratullo Davlatzoda, said on July 30 that due to restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, 27,000 businessmen and entrepreneurs had to suspend their activities, due to which the State Treasury took in 40 million somonis ($522,500) less in taxes than planned over the last six months.

Tajik health authorities said on July 29 that in the previous 24 hours, 44 new coronavirus cases were registered in the country, bringing the total number to 7,320, of whom 60 people had died.

However, an investigative report by RFE/RL’s Tajik Service last month 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.

In Turkmenistan, the only country in the region that has not officially registered a single coronavirus case, authorities in the eastern region of Lebap have ordered local residents to bury their dead in graves that "are not visible from satellites," namely to have the graves flat and without stones.

The order came after the ASSA news website reported last week about COVID-19 victims in the western region of Balkan, providing pictures taken from Google Map archives showing increasing number of new graves in the city of Balkanabat.

RFE/RL correspondents report from the Lebap region that the number of graves in local cemeteries has increased fifteenfold since July 2019.

Although Turkmen officials have insisted that there is no coronavirus in the country, 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 have released the bodies of people who officially died of pneumonia wrapped in plastic bags and covered with a chlorine-penetrated fabric, local residents who lost their loved ones told RFE/RL.

In some parts of the country, so-called quarantine zones have been established and some industrial facilities 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 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 Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Uzbek, Tajik, and Turkmen services