COVID-19: Bosnian Minister Dies; Kazakhstan Extends Lockdown
By RFE/RL July 29, 2020
The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 662,000, with more than 16.8 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.
The veterans affairs minister in one of Bosnia-Herzegovina's federal regions has died from the coronavirus.
Salko Bukvarevic, 53, the cabinet member in Bosnia's Muslim-Croat entity, died on July 29 from COVID-19 at a hospital in Sarajevo, where he had been admitted last week.
Bukvarevic had been put on a respirator on July 27.
He had served in the government of the Bosniak-Croat Federation since 2015.
The region's prime minister, Fadil Novalic, was also hospitalized with the coronavirus but was released on July 28 following two weeks of treatment.
The Balkan country of 3.5 million people has registered close to 10,700 virus cases, with 297 deaths.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization warned the country risks being faced with overfilled and understaffed hospitals.
In the Western Balkans, North Macedonia and Serbia also face surging coronavirus cases.
Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has ordered an extension of a nationwide lockdown by another two weeks to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus a day after officials began discussing a possible easing of restrictions.
Toqaev made the announcement on July 29 while meeting with Prime Minister Asqar Mamin and Health Minister Aleksei Tsoi.
A day earlier, Tsoi recommended that the government start easing coronavirus restrictions as of August 3.
Kazakhstan imposed a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, which ended on May 11 with restrictions remaining across the country.
On July 5, amid an abrupt increase in cases of the coronavirus and acute pneumonia, Kazakhstan imposed additional restrictions for 14 days. On July 13, the lockdown was prolonged until August 2.
Kazakh health authorities said on July 29 that the number of coronavirus cases in the country was 86,192, with 54,404 patients recovered and 793 died.
Kyrgyzstan says it is aiming to resume air flights to four countries -- Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and the United Arab Emirates -- as of August 1.
Kurmanbek Akyshev, the director of Kyrgyzstan's civil aviation, told RFE/RL on July 28 that negotiations on the issue with aviation officials of the four nations are currently underway.
All international flights have been suspended in Kyrgyzstan due to the pandemic since mid-March.
According to Kyrgyz health authorities, the number of coronavirus cases in the country has reached 34,592, including 1,347 deaths.
In Tajikistan, authorities said on July 29 that some 488,000 people with social and financial needs will receive one-time financial allowances of 400 somonis each ($38.5) from the government to help ease problems caused by the pandemic and lockdowns.
Citizens eligible to receive support include families with low incomes, handicapped individuals, orphans or children with one parent, and children with HIV/AIDS.
Tajik Finance Minister Faiziddin Kahhorzoda told reporters in Dushanbe on July 29 that the government's donation account opened to raise money for measures against the coronavirus had managed to collect about $2.5 million from individuals, companies, and other countries.
As of July 28, the number of registered coronavirus cases in Tajikistan was 7,276, including 60 deaths.
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 infected patients.
In Uzbekistan, health officials said on July 29 that 22,196 coronavirus cases, including 127 deaths, had been registered in the country.
Turkmenistan is the only country in the region that has not officially registered any coronavirus cases, but 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 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 energy-rich 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 Balkan, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Uzbek, and Turkmen services, AFP, and AP
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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