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COVID-19: Russia To Close Its Borders; 139 More Deaths In Iran

By RFE/RL March 28, 2020

The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 27,700 with almost 600,000 infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.

Here's a roundup of developments in RFE/RL's broadcast countries.


Iran has reported 139 new coronavirus deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities attributed to the growing pandemic to 2,517.

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told Iranian state television on March 28 that the total number of cases in the country rose over a 24-hour period by 3,076, to a total of 35,408.

Iran is one of the worst-hit countries in the world by the deadly virus, along with the United States, Italy, and China.

Earlier this week, authorities enacted a new travel ban after fears that many Iranians had ignored previous advice to stay at home and cancel travel plans for the Persian New Year holidays that began on March 20.

President Hassan Rohani has pledged that authorities will contain the coronavirus spread within two weeks.

However, the continued rise in numbers, along with fears that the country's health-care system is incapable of dealing with the surge of infections, have raised doubts about meeting that goal.


Russia will "temporarily" close its borders starting on March 30 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the government website said on March 28.

The measure will not apply to Russian diplomats and the drivers of freight trucks, among others, the government said.

The announcement comes as the country's health officials announced three new coronavirus-related deaths on March 28, bringing the total number of COVID-19 fatalities in Russia to seven.

Two of the deaths were reported from St Petersburg and the Orenburg region, while the third case was recorded in the capital, Moscow.

According to health officials, the total number of coronavirus infections in Russia as of March 28 stands at 1,264, with seven deaths and 49 recovered.

Authorities in Moscow also closed shopping centers, restaurants, and larger parks from March 28 for at least a week.

Russian health officials warned this week that a sharp increase in the number of cases in the country is expected in the coming days due to expanded testing in Moscow. A consumer watchdog reported on March 28 that more than 166,000 citizens were under medical supervision for signs of coronavirus infection.

Earlier, the Kremlin said that a member of President Vladimir Putin's administration has been infected with the coronavirus, but that the person had not been in direct contact with the Russian leader.


The death toll among Turkmen migrants in Turkey who drank tainted alcohol has risen to 53, a source who attended funeral services told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service on March 28.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the 53rd victim died on the morning of March 28, and that at least 15 people remain hospitalized.

Doctors familiar with the case told an RFE/RL contributor in Turkey that the migrants from Turkmenistan had drunk tainted vodka and also rubbed it on their bodies in the belief that doing so would protect them from COVID-19.

The Turkmen migrants are being interred in a cemetery in Istanbul's Sariyer district.

RFE/RL has confirmed that relatives of victims have faced bureaucratic hurdles trying to repatriate bodies in the midst of coronavirus travel restrictions and border closures.

Police in Istanbul earlier said they had arrested more than 10 people suspected of selling the illegally produced alcohol.

Turkish police also reportedly confiscated tainted vodka along with guns and ammunition in the possession of the suspects when they were arrested.


Ukraine announced on March 28 that its number of coronavirus infections had reached 311, with eight deaths.

The new figures come as new measures ordered by the government come into effect.

Thousands of Ukrainians were reportedly lined up at the Polish-Ukrainian border on the evening of March 27 as they attempted to reenter Ukraine before new restrictions intended to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic went into effect.

Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in an online video address to the nation announced the country's decision to shut cross-border travel after March 27, including for Ukrainian nationals.

Previously, the cabinet had issued a nationwide directive limiting passengers in all public transportation. All above-ground transportation such as minibuses, buses, trolleybuses, and trams should only ride up to half capacity.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, TASS, Interfax, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, and AFP

Source: -covid-19-roundup-russia -ukraine/30514443.html

Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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