Coronavirus: pandemic in Tajik way

Coronavirus: pandemic in Tajik way

At the invitation of Mayor Rustam Emomali, 14 Chinese virologists arrived in Dushanbe to help Tajik doctors in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus infection. The situation in the republic is complicated - every day the number of cases increases by an average of 200 people. In less than a month, 3266 people contracted the virus, 47 died.

The Tajik authorities confirmed the first COVID-19 cases only on April 30, when the world pandemic was in full swing. However, Tajikistan closed its borders almost simultaneously with its neighbors. Hundreds of people who were left without work in Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and other countries could not get home. However, no other measures were introduced in order to avoid panic, officials say. On the contrary, Tajikistan widely celebrated the spring holiday of Navruz on March 24 and even held several festivals attended by students and schoolchildren. Only on May 5 they were released for the holidays. The rest of the country continues to live a normal life, they have no restrictions. Experts attribute this to economic reasons.

"The Tajik authorities quite reasonably fear that the quarantine will simply bury the local small and medium-sized businesses, which are far from being in the best condition. In addition, lobbying activities of large monopolies tied to the import of consumer goods and luxury materials - building materials, cement, furniture, etc  - cannot be ruled out. The introduction of quarantine will mean significant losses for them. Large monopolies enjoy significant tax benefits, so it is the small tax sector that has the main tax burden. Its collapse will hit the budget, so they will have to remove the benefits from monopolies," Tajik expert Parviz Mullodzhanov believes.

Now the situation in Tajikistan is, if not critical, then very difficult. There are 200 new cases per day in average and high mortality. If the Ministry of Health says that 47 people died from coronavirus, then according to activists and citizens, already 350 people died.

A team of Chinese doctors from Shaanxi province came to help Tajik doctors, the press service of the Dushanbe City Hall said. A special charter flight of China Southern Airlines, with Chinese specialists also delivered humanitarian aid - 15 ventilators, medicines and protective equipment worth $700 thousand. The Dushanbe City Hall said that humanitarian aid will be distributed among the city hospitals.

A group of Uzbek virologists worked in the Sughd region for 13 days. With their assistance, a virology laboratory was opened in Khujand. Uzbekistan also sent 144 medical containers as humanitarian aid that were used to build a temporary hospital at the Bofanda Stadium. The hospital is designed to lessen the burden of hospitals, and can accommodate up to a thousand people. So far, however, it is unclear who will be hospitalized there - those infected or the stadium will become a quarantine area. The authorities of the republic began to return their citizens from Russia, Turkey, India and other countries. These are mainly labor migrants who have lost their jobs. The return of migrants creates additional problems - much less money will be transferred to the budget.

Economists say that Tajikistan is poorly prepared for the survival and support of its economy, business and citizens in the face of the global crisis, given the many-month blockade and pandemic. Dushanbe turned to international financial institutions for help. The IMF has already approved a disbursement of $189.5 million for Tajikistan to help it meet urgent balance of payments and fiscal needs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. But this is not enough, so the IMF has proposed that Tajikistan cut its state budget by nearly $225 million.

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