COVID-19: Turkish Embassy Official Dies Of Pneumonia In ‘Coronavirus-Free’ Turkmenistan


An official of the Turkish Embassy in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, has died of pneumonia in the only Central Asian nation that has not officially registered a single coronavirus case.

Citing unnamed officials at the Turkish embassy, and the Turkish TRT Avaz media outlet reported that an adviser on religious issues, Kemal Uckun, died in an Ashgabat hospital overnight between July 7 and July 8.

According to the reports, Uckun, who worked at the embassy since January 2018 was hospitalized with lung problems, a heavy cough, and a fever on June 27.

RFE/RL correspondents report from Turkmenistan that hospitals in the country 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.

However, Turkmen officials continue to say that there is no coronavirus cases in the country.

Earlier this week, a long-delayed mission from the World Health Organization arrived in the country to assess the situation and work with Turkmen officials to prevent any spread of the coronavirus in the country.


In neighboring Kazakhstan, President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev addressed the nation late on July 8, blaming the former health minister that he replaced two weeks earlier for an abrupt surge of coronavirus cases in recent days.

In the televised address, Toqaev also said that many citizens who ignored sanitary and epidemiological regulations related to the pandemic had contributed to the current situation with COVID-19 in the country, which he called “complex, but not worse than in many other countries.”

Toqaev announced that July 13 would be a day of mourning to commemorate Kazakhs who died of COVID-19 and promised to allocate more finances and efforts to tackle the virus.

He also said that “some people have organized political games” during the pandemic to “try to ignite social discord.” He did not give any details, but vowed to take measures against such people in accordance with Kazakh law.

Toqaev’s address to the nation came three days after the country reintroduced a partial lockdown amid a spike in the number of coronavirus cases.

On July 9, Kazakh health officials said that 1,962 new coronavirus cases had been registered in the country in the last 24 hours, a single-day high for the country.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the country, as of July 9, was 53,021, including 220 deaths, the highest in Central Asia.


In Kyrgyzstan, the State Committee for National Security (UKMK) said on July 9, that jailed former President Almazbek Atambaev, who was hospitalized with pneumonia symptoms on June 30, had been transferred back to his cell in a Bishkek detention center after he received treatment.

According to the UKMK, Atambaev’s coronavirus test came back negative. The former president was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison last month for his role in the release of a crime boss in 2013.

Kyrgyz health officials said on July 9 that 361 new coronavirus cases, including 83 medical personnel, have been registered in the country in the last 24 hours, putting the total number of cases at 8,847, including 116 deaths.


In Uzbekistan, a member of the government’s special commission on measures to curb the outbreak, Habibulla Oqilov, said on July 8 that hospitals in Central Asia’s most-populous nation of 32 million people were at full capacity and had no free beds for coronavirus patients.

“If the number of new coronavirus cases reaches 1,000 per day, the health system will collapse,” Oqilov said. The commission has announced it will impose a second lockdown of the country between July 10 and August 1.

As of July 9, the number of coronavirus cases in Uzbekistan was reported at 11,259, including 47 deaths.


In Tajikistan, officials in the northern city of Khujand, have locked down the main regional maternity clinic that was turned into a hospital for COVID-19 patients in April, after its chief physician, 49-year-old Shoira Buzurukova, died with coronavirus symptoms last weekend.

According to the latest official data made public by Tajik health officials on July 8, the number of coronavirus cases in the country is 6,364, including 54 deaths.



Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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