WHO Representative Criticized For Hike After Calling On Azerbaijanis To Stay Home For Coronavirus
By RFE/RL June 16, 2020
The World Health Organization's (WHO) representative in Azerbaijan has been harshly criticized on social media after she traveled to a picturesque mountain region despite calling on Azerbaijanis to stay home to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Hande Harmanci posted photographs of her weekend trip -- standing in front of waterfalls and mountainous landscapes -- on her Instagram account after publicly calling on people to remain at home.
In a statement on June 16, Harmanci said she had traveled to the region as part of her professional duties, visiting several districts to assist local doctors.
She apologized for posting the photographs, though it was unclear whether the hike was also part of her official duties.
"I accept that I shared these photos at the wrong time, and I apologize for that," she said.
The photos angered many social-media users in Azerbaijan who accused her of not respecting a weekend curfew imposed by authorities.
"You told people to stay home. Why are you out there?" one user, identified as shahri_yar, wrote in response to the posted photographs.
"Have you really gone to [the mountains] during quarantine? So everyone was told to stay home also because of @WHO recommendations and you were relaxing in" the mountains another user, named rustfatali, wrote.
Harmanci later deleted the photographs from her Instagram account.
Azerbaijan has reported 10,324 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and just 122 deaths. Infections have been steadily increasing in recent weeks.
With reporting by APA and Azerbaijan24
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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