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Coronavirus live updates | Georgia's libertarians hold anti-lockdown rally, leader detained

23 April 2020
Zurab Japaridze facing a police officer. Photo: Dominik Cagara/OC Media.

The latest stories:

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23 Apr 2020, 20:00

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

23 Apr 2020, 19:45

Anti-Plague Institute specialists going to North Ossetia

Due to the sharp growth in the number of cases of COVID-19 in North Ossetia, Russia’s Rospotrebnadzor has sent specialists from the Stavropol Anti-Plague Institute to the region, TASS is reporting.

Over the past 24 hours, 33 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the republic, increasing the total to 275.

On April 20, a rally against quarantine measures was held in the capital of the region, Vladikavkaz, in which protestors clashed with police. A criminal case has since been launched

23 Apr 2020, 19:39

CT scans to be used for COVID-19 diagnosis in Kabardino-Balkaria

CT scan. Photo via kbrria.ru.

The Minister of Health of Kabardino-Balkaria, Rustam Kalibatov, told the regional branch of RIA-Novosti that due to the ‘large number of false-negative and false-positive tests’, the primary method of diagnosing COVID-19 will be through CT scans. The scans will be performed for free. 

In Nalchik, patients with a positive test result will be referred for CT scan to the City Clinical Hospital No. 1, while those with a suspected infection — to the Republican Children's Clinical Hospital.

Patients with COVID-19, pneumonia, or acute respiratory viral infection symptoms from the Baksansky, Elbrussky, Prokhladnensky and Zolsky districts will undergo CT scans in a private medical centre in the city of Baksan.

23 Apr 2020, 19:32

About 3/4 of those infected in Karachay-Cherkessia treated at home

According to local medical authorities, 74% of those who had tested positive for coronavirus infection are recovering at home.

Karachay-Cherkessia remains the only Russian region in the North Caucasus without a single officially confirmed fatality from COVID-19 infection. Currently, there are 168 total confirmed cases.

23 Apr 2020, 19:20

Armenia lifts ban on travel within the country

Armenia’s State Commission on the State of Emergency announced that the restriction on movement between provinces has been removed and that checkpoints will be dismantled. Public transportation both between and within municipalities remains prohibited.

Those communities where there is a greater spread of the virus will be placed under lockdown. 

Prohibitions on a number of domestic economic activities have also been lifted, primarily in the manufacturing and communications sector. According to the Commission, current trends of the virus spread are under control, and if they continue this way, restrictions on more forms of economic activity will be lifted very soon.

23 Apr 2020, 15:28

Georgia's libertarians hold anti-lockdown rally, leader detained

Zurab Japaridze facing a police officer. Photo: Dominik Cagara/OC Media.

Police have detained Zurab Japaridze, the leader of Girchi, the Georgian libertarian party. Several other party members have also been arrested.

Japaridze and his allies organised a protest rally against State of Emergency regulations in the empty lot formerly occupied by the Tbilisi hippodrome. The rally, which had nearly 500 people say they were attending on Facebook, attracted only a few dozen. 

Japaridze, who called the event ‘therapeutic’, claimed that attendants would be able to take in fresh air and sunshine that ‘kills the virus’. He faces a ₾3,000 ($942) fine. 

The Girchi party has called the ongoing State of Emergency a political ‘show’ staged by the ruling party. Their criticisms grew particularly acute after the government extended the State of Emergency until 22 May yesterday.

Japaridze has been against the measures taken to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus as Georgians were not developing ‘population immunity’ and there would be no vaccine available by 22 May.

He has advocated lifting most of the restrictions currently in place, including those on economic activities and freedom of movement. 

Georgia’s health authorities have warned that the country does not have the capacity to deal with a large spike in infections. According to Georgia’s Health Minister, Ekaterine Tikaradze, there are a total of 256 infectious disease specialists in Georgia who will only be able to handle 853 patients. 

Tikaradze has also warned that while Georgia has over 1700 ventilators stocked the 488 resuscitation specialists in the country will be able to administer no more than 1200 beds.

23 Apr 2020, 15:03

Fifth Abkhazian President sworn-in

Presidential inauguration. Still from footage of Abkhazian State Television.

President-elect Aslan Bzhaniya was sworn in today during an inauguration ceremony held by the presidential administration in Sukhumi. 

Abkhazian authorities said earlier that the ceremony would happen in a limited circle, without celebrations or foreign guests present due to the ongoing pandemic but that the Ambassadors of Russia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria would be among the guests. 

Aslan Bzhaniya, previously a member of the political opposition, garnered 57% of votes in the vote held on 22 March. Badra Gunba is his vice president. 

A state of emergency was announced six days after the 22 March presidential vote. Abkhazia confirmed the first case of coronavirus infection on 7 April and as of today, the number of the confirmed cases stands at 3, with one reported recovery.

 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.

23 Apr 2020, 14:42

Karachay-Cherkessia agro-industrial complex donates 22 tonnes of food

Yuzhniy, an agro-industrial complex in Karachay-Cherkessia, has delivered over 22 tonnes of vegetables to children's social organizations, health care facilities, as well as to large families and families in need in Karachay-Cherkessia.

23 Apr 2020, 12:28

Georgian Dream defends Ivanishvili over TikTok video

Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party has responded to criticism over their chair’s appearance in his son’s TikTok video, in a statement published on Wednesday.

The video was the first appearance of the chair of the ruling party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, in public since a state of emergency was declared in the country. The video, published on his son Bera Ivanishvili’s TikTok account, depicts the father and son performing an elaborate ‘secret handshake’.

Georgian Dream’s statement states that the video was ‘an absolutely harmless and apolitical move’ that was elicited ‘unhealthy’ and ‘hateful’ criticism from the political opponents of Georgian Dream.

The party further elaborated that despite a lack of media appearances, Bidzina Ivanishvili is working hard to address the COVID-19 epidemic.

‘Unlike his opponents and their leaders, just like before, Ivanishvili is not oriented on self-promotion and PR, but on doing his job and providing tangible results for the population’, the statement reads. 

23 Apr 2020, 11:04

Azerbaijan has tested over 100,000 for COVID-19 

Infographic of conducted tests. Photo: TƏBİB/Facebook.

Azerbaijani authorities reported on Wednesday evening that a  total of 108,221 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the country. The current testing rate is 5,000 people per day. 

23 Apr 2020, 10:52

Abkhazian Health Minister: outbreak expected to peak by the end of May 

On Wednesday, Abkhazia's Health Minister Tamaz Tsakhnakiya, stated during a press conference that the next month would be the most difficult in the fight against the COVID-19 virus outbreak in Abkhazia. 

According to Abkhazian authorities, one of the three patients who tested positive for coronavirus has already recovered while the health of another, born in 1925, had worsened and she has been hospitalised in Gudauta.

Tsakhnakiya warned that the first recovery was no grounds 'to get relaxed'. 

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.

23 Apr 2020, 09:00


Welcome to OC Media’s coronavirus live updates for Thursday, 23 April. We will be bringing you the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic from around the Caucasus.

The biggest developments from yesterday:

A protest broke out in the town of Marneuli, southern Georgia, against lockdown measures. The protesters, many of whom were local farmers, said they were unable to sell their agricultural products.

Georgia slightly eased restrictions of the state of emergency, allowing people in certain regions to drive for three set hours a day. The country also reduced the fines for breaking the rules from ₾3,000 ($950) to ₾2,000 ($630) for individuals and from ₾15,000 ($4,800) down to ₾10,000 ($3,200) for legal entities.

A court in North Ossetia placed 13 participants of Monday’s anti-lockdown protest in Vladikavkaz under administrative arrest for 3-15 days. Hearings for 56 others detained during the demonstration are still pending.

The Mufti of Karachay-Cherkessia, Ismail-Khadzhi Berdiyev, called on the Muslims of the region to continue to self-isolate during Ramadan.

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Read more from yesterday as well as the latest stories:

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