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Coronavirus live updates | Georgia to double quarantine spaces

22 March 2020
Radisson Blu Hotel in Tbilisi. Credit: Dominik Cagara/OC Media.

The latest stories:

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22 Mar 2020, 22:13

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

22 Mar 2020, 22:10

Armenia coronavirus cases rise to 194

For children whose parents cannot stay at home and are not able to leave them in the care of other adults, kindergartens in the republic will open on 23 March, reported Telegram channel COVID-19 Vladikavkaz.

22 Mar 2020, 19:19

Azerbaijan confirms 12 more cases of Covid-19

The Headquarters of the Cabinet of Ministers has confirmed that 12 more people have tested positive for Covid-19. 

Azerbaijan has confirmed a total of 65 cases of Covid-19 so far. Ten people have recovered. There has been one fatality.

22 Mar 2020, 18:35

Georgia to double quarantine spaces

Radisson Blu Hotel in Tbilisi. Credit: Dominik Cagara/OC Media.

According to Georgian Economy Minister Natia Turnava, the government plans to use hotels throughout the country to 'double' the spaces available for placing people into quarantine. She said that the hotels would be compensated but that the authorities cannot afford to lose time on 'weeks of negotiations'.

Turnava said that the government continues repatriating Georgian citizens from all over the world and that they need to be isolated, including from the relatives with which they cohabit.

According to the latest official figures, there are 2,956 people currently in quarantine, among them, 190 forcibly quarantined who have violated the rules of self-isolation at home. Another 291 individuals are currently in hospitals under supervision.

Today, the Georgian government announced that they had already repurposed 'several textile factories' to produce face masks and that they had already begun to distribute them to pensioners living alone. 

22 Mar 2020, 18:10

Internet outages reported across Georgia 

A Magti store in Tbilisi. Credit: Peter Liakhov/OC Media

There are reports of widespread internet outages across Georgia, both home and mobile connections. The outages have affected two major operators — Silknet and Magti.

22 Mar 2020, 17:01

Despite Covid-19 pandemic, presidential election goes ahead in Abkhazia

Presidential candidates from left to right: Aslan Bzhaniya, Leonid Dzapshba, Adgur Ardzinba. Credits: Apsny Today (left, right), Nuzhnaya Gazeta (centre)

Today, Abkhazian authorities are holding an early presidential vote.

The election is going ahead even though on 12 March authorities banned all public events and closed crossings with western Georgia’s Samegrelo region due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ban did not include election campaign meetings, sometimes with fully stacked venues to meet the candidates.

Meanwhile, Abkhazians not holding Russian citizenship found themselves banned from entering Russia from 18 March. The barrier to entry is one of the measures adopted by the Kremlin to try to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

[Read more on OC Media: Abkhazia and South Ossetia scramble to prepare for coronavirus]

To date, there have been no reports of Covid-19 infection in Abkhazia.

For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

22 Mar 2020, 16:06

First person placed under quarantine in Daghestan

A resident of the Shamilsky District in Daghestan who was in contact with a Covid-19 infected passenger onboard a domestic flight has been placed in isolation in the Shamilsky District Central Hospital.

He is the first person to be quarantined for possible Covid-19 infection in the republic.

22 Mar 2020, 14:44

Armenia’s Special Commission calls for halt to fundraising events for army medical supplies among diaspora

Armenia’s Special Commission on the State of Emergency issued a statement today concerning a number of organisations outside of Armenia that have launched fundraising initiatives to support the medical needs of the country’s army. 

The Special Commission emphatically called for a halt to such activities.

‘We assure you that the Armed Forces are provided with the necessary supplies and equipment and do not need any additional assistance or support,’ the statement reads. ‘Please refrain from participating in any fundraising activities that are allegedly being done on behalf of or for the Ministry of Defense.’

22 Mar 2020, 14:10

Two coronavirus patients in Kabardino-Balkaria did not comply with quarantine

According to Region.Online, two residents of Kabardino-Balkaria infected with the coronavirus did not comply with quarantine orders after returning from abroad. 

All those who are known to have been in contact with the two are currently under quarantine and have been tested for Covid-19 infection. The results have not yet arrived. All those returning to Kabardino-Balkaria from outside of Russia are required to go into self-isolation for two weeks, they can apply for sick leave online through the website of the State Service.

In Kabardino-Balkaria, a coronavirus test can only be done in a state clinic. Tests, according to the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing of the republic, are delivered centrally by the Russian Ministry of Health, but only those who have arrived from abroad or those who have symptoms of pneumonia are tested.

22 Mar 2020, 13:58

Limitations on church gatherings in Georgia remain unclear

Parishioners at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi attend Sunday morning service, led by Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II. Credit: Tabula.

In the late hours of 21 March, Chief Spokesperson of the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church Andria Jagmaidze said that Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia visited Church officials to clarify if the ban on gatherings of 10+ people enacted during the state of emergency applied to Church services.

He quoted Gakharia saying that the Church shouldn’t understand the ban ‘literally’, and that services could continue so long ‘a necessary distance’ between people could be maintained.

'Don't be afraid. God is among us’, the Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II told parishioners in his sermon at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi on Sunday.

‘You are being told: keep a distance while standing, stand outside of the church. This is all for your sake. This is all easy to follow.’

Despite entreating parishioners to stand away from each other, the Church is still continuing the Communion ritual using a shared spoon. Georgian health officials have warned that the ritual can be a vector for Covid-19 transmission.

Opposition parties have criticised Gakharia and Georgian authorities for being unclear on the requirements placed on the Church during the coronavirus pandemic.

Shortly after the state of emergency was decreed on 21 March, the Georgian Prime Minister was asked if the prohibition on the gatherings of 10 or more people would include religious services. He replied that it would include ‘everything and everyone’. 

Talking to journalists on the evening of 21 March, Talakvadze said that President Salome Zurabishvili's decree on a state of emergency, which was quickly approved by the Parliament, 'did not imply limiting a right of freedom of conscience and religion’ but curbed the right to assembly and protests. He said under the decree it was still legal to congregate in churches. 

According to Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria, a limitation on public gatherings applies to churchgoers too, unless the government makes an exception which she said was not specified in the Presidential decree.

22 Mar 2020, 13:11

No cases of coronavirus in North Ossetia

At the moment, no cases of Covid-19 infection have been detected in the republic, announced Zarema Kabolova, the deputy head of the Management of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing for North Ossetia. The number of citizens in self-isolation in North Ossetia is currently at 118.

22 Mar 2020, 11:48

No confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Nagorno-Karabakh and elections remain on schedule

A campaign poster for Masis Mayilyan (left), with his slogan ‘Together we can’, and Arayik Harutyunyan (centre) with the slogan ‘Towards a prosperous future’. Photo: Mariam Sargsyan/OC Media.

Since Armenia declared a state of emergency on March 16, Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh authorities agreed to allow people to cross the border only for extreme cases.

According to Hetq, from 18 March to 20 March, 4500 people have had their temperatures taken at the four entry points between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Only 25 had temperatures higher than 37°C and were turned back.

For the moment, Nagorno-Karabakh has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Thirteen coronavirus test samples have been sent to Yerevan, all have come back negative. 

As a preventive measure, schools have been closed until 14 April, and students are taking part in online classes.

The parliamentary and presidential elections slated for March 31 have not been postponed. However, several presidential candidates have called for the government to declare a state of emergency which would entail the postponement of the elections.

For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

22 Mar 2020, 11:30

140 Armenian citizens stranded at Russia/Georgia border permitted to go to Armenia

Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday that 140 Armenian citizens who had been stranded at the Upper Lars checkpoint near the Russia-Georgian border since March 18 were able to return to Armenia. The checkpoint had been closed for several days due to bad weather conditions. The Upper Lars checkpoint is currently open only for cargo transportation, as well as Georgian and Russian citizens returning to their respective countries.

The Consul General of Armenia in Rostov Vardan Asoyan had been at the border for the past three days ensuring that the stranded citizens received food and first aid supplies.

Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs once again urged all Armenian citizens who wish to return to Armenia to do so through available flights.

22 Mar 2020, 11:08

Restaurants and cafes in Azerbaijan will work on a limited schedule

The Headquarters under the Cabinet of Ministers announced that beginning from 22 March, cafes, restaurants, tea houses, internet cafes and other public food facilities will work from 09:00 to 15:00.

They added that restaurants and other food facilities may deliver their products to addresses via online orders until 21:00.

22 Mar 2020, 11:01

Two more coronavirus patients recover in Georgia 

Photo: Tamuna Chkareuli/OC Media.

Two more patients have recovered in Georgia, according to Marina Ezugbaia, the director of the Centre of Infectious Diseases. One of them was discharged yesterday and the other one will be discharged today. Three patients total have recovered from the coronavirus in Georgia. The three individuals in question were also the first three confirmed cases of the virus in the country. 

As of 22 March, there are 54 cases in Georgia. On Sunday five more cases were confirmed. There are 1966 people in quarantine and 259 under inpatient supervision.

22 Mar 2020, 10:52

Baku streets will be washed twice a day

Washing the streets of Baku. Photo: Trend.

The Baku City Administration has reported that Baku streets will be washed twice a day — from 06:00 to 08:00, and from 21:00 to 23:00.

Every day disinfecting measures will also be carried out in the public areas within and outside of residential buildings.

22 Mar 2020, 10:38

Georgia coronavirus cases rise to 54

Georgian authorities confirm another five cases in the country with the total at 54. Three people have recovered. There have been no deaths.

22 Mar 2020, 10:27

Armenia coronavirus cases rise to 190

The Armenian Unified Infocenter announced today that the number of coronavirus cases has risen by 30 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 190. So far, two have recovered. There have been no deaths. 

According to Health Minister Arsen Torosyan, the second patient to recover was discharged yesterday.

22 Mar 2020, 10:22

Gilan Holding hotels will operate as quarantine sites in Azerbaijan

Gilan Holding, one of Azerbaijan’s largest businesses, has offered up many of its hotels in Baku and throughout the country as quarantine sites. The costs of quarantine at these sites will be covered by the company. 

Gilan Holding is owned by Kamaladdin Haydarov, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Emergency Situations.

22 Mar 2020, 09:00

Welcome to OC Media’s coronavirus live updates for Saturday, 21 March. We will be bringing you the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic around the Caucasus.

The biggest developments from yesterday:

Georgia declared a state of emergency and the president issued a decree limiting the constitutional right to freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and access to public services.

The first case of the virus was confirmed in the North Caucasus. Two residents of Kabardino-Balkaria who had recently returned from abroad tested positive for COVID-19.

Armenia closed shopping centres, bars, nightclubs, cinemas, casinos, and bookmakers, but eased slightly reporting restrictions.

Media outlets and individual users online were previously only allowed to refer to reports on the spread of the virus from the State Commission implementing and overseeing Armenia’s emergency response. 

The new amendments will also allow people to refer to comments by public officials, heads of state and government bodies, and international organisations accredited in Armenia.

Read more from yesterday as well as the latest stories:

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