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Coronavirus live updates | Patriarchate claims ‘clergy exempted from transportation ban on easter’

17 April 2020
On 17 March, priests in mobile ‘blessmobiles’ drove through Tbilisi’s streets spraying holy water to combat the novel coronavirus. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media

The latest stories:

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17 Apr 2020, 20:06

That’s it for today, join us again tomorrow for more Coronavirus live updates.

17 Apr 2020, 19:55

Strict quarantine declared in Chechnya

The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov has declared a strict quarantine this weekend and has forbidden everyone, except doctors, employees of utility companies, emergency services, and those who have special passes from the authorities from leaving their homes.

17 Apr 2020, 19:28

Man who shared conspiracy video in Kabardino-Balkaria charged

Photo credit: Instagram of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kabardino-Balkaria.

Administrative proceedings were launched against a resident of the town of Tyrnyauz in Kabardino-Balkaria, on charges of ‘disseminating in the media as well as information and telecommunication networks knowingly inaccurate socially significant information under the guise of trustworthy messages’.

He had shared a video online containing a conspiracy theory about COVID-19. 

This violation incurs a fine of 30,000-100,000 rubles ($400-1350).

17 Apr 2020, 17:36

Physicians fall ill in Stavropol Krai

Several doctors of City Hospital No. 2 in Stavropol, one of which is the head physician, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the governor of the region Vladimir Vladimirov wrote on his Instagram.

He also published a video message from the head physician of the hospital to his fellow citizens with a request not to leave home unless absolutely necessary.

According to the governor, 150 additional beds have been equipped for new COVID-19 patients in the settlement of Solnechnodolsk.

17 Apr 2020, 17:33

Georgian social workers forced to pay for taxis to visit domestic abuse victims

Photo: Robin Fabbro/OC Media.

Social workers in Georgia are being forced to pay for taxi services from their own pocket in order to visit beneficiaries, including victims of domestic abuse. 

Job-related travel expenses have been a long-running issue for the country’s social workers, however, the problem has become more acute after the government shut down public transport in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full story: Georgian social workers forced to pay for taxis to visit domestic abuse victims.

17 Apr 2020, 17:27

Easter without parishioners in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia

The Archbishop of Pyatigorsk and Cherkessk Feofilakt urged the residents of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia to stay at home on Easter and refrain from visiting cemeteries and attending sermons in churches.

‘The life and health of everyone is a great gift of God. We must take care of our neighbours, even if for this we have to bear the sadness of temporarily limiting our joint prayer,’ the Archbishop said in a statement.

From today, until further notice, sermons in Orthodox churches in the two regions will be performed without parishioners, with only clergy and necessary staff participating and broadcasting them.

17 Apr 2020, 16:55

Study suggests large numbers in Georgia to celebrate Easter in church

As Easter celebrations approach in Georgia, a study by CRRC Georgia suggests that a large number of Georgia’s Orthodox Christians still intend to celebrate at Church. 

A survey of 7,560 Facebook users found that around 40% of people who usually celebrate Easter in Church intended to do so again this year despite the pandemic.

Read the full story: Analysis | Study suggests large numbers in Georgia to celebrate Easter in church.

17 Apr 2020, 15:35

Travelling circus in Kabardino-Balkaria says animals have no food

Due to the restrictions introduced in Kabardino-Balkaria,  a travelling circus stuck in Nalchik states that they have nothing to feed their animals, including tigers, bears, and dogs, among other animals.

The newspaper Gazeta Yuga published a request from the circus administration to help them with feeding the animals.

As of yesterday, the activity of bookmakers, sweepstakes, and betting shops has also been temporarily prohibited in the region.

17 Apr 2020, 15:15

Azerbaijani Press Council member detained for selling fake documents during quarantine 

A joint statement by  Interior Ministry and The Prosecutor General’s office released on Thursday, reports that Niyaz Niftiyev, a journalist and a member of the Board of the Press Council, who is also a chair of the Binagadi village municipality of Baku, has been detained by Azerbaijani police for selling 431 fake documents that allowed free movement during the quarantine regime.

Niftiyev, is also an associate of Assistant to the President for Political Affairs Ali Gasanov, was also previously the editor-in-chief of the Azadinform news agency.

Along with Niftiyev, the Binagadi village department head Sahib Abishev was also detained by police.

17 Apr 2020, 15:13

In pictures | Tbilisi (almost) without cars

The Georgian government has banned driving private vehicles nationwide, a decision which came to force today at 12:00. 

The measure excludes those transporting goods and making deliveries but includes taxis. Using bicycles and motorcycles is also permitted for the general public. 

Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other commercial activities previously permitted will operate as before.  

The government has also made it mandatory to wear protective face masks inside any building open to the public.

17 Apr 2020, 14:10

The city of Pyatigorsk in Stavropol Krai goes into lockdown

As of today, the city of Pyatigorsk in Stavropol Krai has gone into lockdown

For the period of the lockdown, entry into and exit from the city of any vehicle is prohibited, with the exception of those having a special pass from the ministries of defence, emergency situations, or internal affairs.

City clinics must cancel planned appointments and all medical institutions, except for those providing emergency medical care, are shutting down.

The mayor of the city, Andrei Skripnik resigned yesterday, following a sharp increase in the number of cases. His duty was taken by Lev Travin, who had been mayor until 2017.

17 Apr 2020, 12:52

Patriarchate claims ‘clergy exempted from transportation ban on easter’

The ban on transportation with private vehicles will not apply to clergy and church personnel, the Georgian Patriarchate announced in a statement published today. 

‘As it was explained to us over a phone conversation, clergy, chanters, and acolytes will be allowed to drive for today’s communion and on Easter. Unfortunately, churchgoers will not have this opportunity’, the Patriarchate’s statement reads. 

The Patriarchate also said in their statement, that the government’s decision to bar private vehicles from the streets has triggered ‘big dissatisfaction among both clergy and believers’.

The nationwide ban on driving private vehicles began on 17 April, at 12:00, and will last until 21 April. 

The measure excludes those transporting goods and making deliveries but includes taxis.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other commercial activities previously allowed to stay open will operate as before.  

The government has also made it mandatory to wear protective face masks inside any building open to the public.

17 Apr 2020, 11:05

Georgian Health Minister not sure if sharing spoon during Holy Communion might spread COVID-19

Georgian Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze has said that there has not been any specific scientific research on if using a shared spoon for Holy Communion might help spread coronavirus.

Tikaradze was asked by journalists whether a shared spoon might become a source of infection. 

‘In general, in science and medicine, it’s important to have evidence for everything. There has been no such scientific research, therefore, I can’t give a definitive answer’, said the minister. 

The Georgian Orthodox Church has objected to advice from health officials that they use disposable spoons to try to minimise the spread of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 is spread through water droplets and can survive on surfaces, including metal. For alcohol to work as an effective surface disinfectant, it must be at a concentration of at least 60% by volume, a much higher concentration than the wine used during Holy Communion. 

17 Apr 2020, 09:00


Welcome to OC Media’s coronavirus live updates for Friday, 17 April. We will be bringing you the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic from around the Caucasus.

The biggest developments from yesterday:

Georgia announced that the country may go into full lockdown, with the public required to inform the authorities before leaving their homes, if the number of confirmed cases reached 2,000.

Authorities across the Caucasus have been bracing for Orthodox Christian Easter celebrations this weekend.

In Georgia, the authorities announced that cemeteries would be closed in Tbilisi and other places for the Easter period. 

The announcement came as the Georgian Orthodox Church prepares to host thousands of worshipers overnight for Easter services, a move they said they coordinated with the government.

In Abkhazia, Chief Medical Officer Lyudmila Skorik criticised the Sukhum-Pitsunda diocese for continuing church services without necessary sanitary precautions and called on worshippers to stay at home. 

Metropolitan Kirill of Stavropol and Nevinnomyssk said that churches in Stavropol Krai would be open for Easter but called on people to stay at home. 

The authorities in North  Ossetia announced that churches and cemeteries would be closed until 30 April.

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Read more from yesterday as well as the latest stories:

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