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Coronavirus live updates | Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh confirm first cases

8 April 2020
The Enguri Bridge, connecting Abkazia with Georgia's Samagrelo region. Photo: Dato Parulava/OC Media.

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08 Apr 2020, 20:17

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

08 Apr 2020, 19:42

Phone tracking system launches in Armenia

Bagrat Badalyan, advisor to Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan, has announced that as of 7 April a phone tracking system approved by parliament on 31 March for the duration of the State of Emergency, has launched. 

Data received by telecommunication operators is compared to lists of people confirmed cases have come into contact with which are acquired through questionnaires at medical centres. 

According to Badalyan, once new contacts are identified, they are required to go into self-quarantine. They expect the list of the first group of people to be notified to self-quarantine by the end of the day.

The data collected through the system is to be destroyed within three weeks after the State of Emergency is lifted. The Special Commission will ask members from each parliamentary faction to be present when the data is destroyed. The servers will also be physically destroyed.

08 Apr 2020, 19:40

Food sent to schoolchildren in Kabardino-Balkaria

The administration of the City of Prokhladny in Kabardino-Balkaria will send food packages to students who were entitled to free meals in educational institutions for the next 10 days. 

Food will also be distributed in Nalchik to the parents of legal guardians of schoolchildren with disabilities.

08 Apr 2020, 19:31

Protest in Makhachkala

A group of residents of the Leninsky District of Makhachkala, the capital of Daghestan, came out to protest today as their power supply has been shut off for 24 hours.

Protesters blocked a pedestrian crossing over a railway track calling on the City Hall to address their grievances. 

The city administration responded that they were not responsible for the electricity supply.

08 Apr 2020, 19:24

Azerbaijan may prolong special quarantine regime

Ibrahim Mammadov, the chief spokesperson for the Cabinet of Ministers, has announced that the government may extend the special quarantine regime in the country. He said the authorities were also considering toughening the restrictions in place.

Mammadov added that there was no need yet to declare a state of the emergency.

08 Apr 2020, 19:22

Armenia starts loan repayment holidays

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has announced that as of 8 April, loan repayment holidays worth ֏9.3 billion ($19 million) have been given to nearly 290,000 people. 

Loan repayment holidays were also granted to 5,300 legal entities amounting to ֏15.4 billion ($31 million)

08 Apr 2020, 19:11

Four COVID-19 cases identified by app in Armenia

Bagrat Badalyan, an advisor to Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan, has announced that the COVID-19 Armenia app has already identified four people who later tested positive for the virus.

The app launched on 5 April to help identify potential coronavirus cases.

According to Badalyan, the app has been downloaded 40,000 times and people have filled out its questionnaire 240,000 times. From these, 1,500 people were identified as being in the ‘red zone’. 

After phone interviews with health professionals, 31 of these were marked to be tested. Of the 12 already tested, eight came back negative and four tested positive. 

According to Badalyan the app has not cost the government anything, as it was created voluntarily by Armenian IT companies.

08 Apr 2020, 19:10

Doctors test positive in Azerbaijan 

Ramin Bayramli, the chair of the Management Union of Medical Territorial Units, has announced that several doctors had tested positive for COVID-19. 

He added that over 3,000 people were currently quarantined.

08 Apr 2020, 15:55

First death in Stavropol Krai

The Governor of Stavropol Krai, Vladimir Vladimirov, has announced via Instagram the first death due to coronavirus in the region. 

According to Vladimirov, the 53-year-old woman had a preexisting cardiovascular condition.

08 Apr 2020, 15:49

IDP building in Tbilisi on lockdown after family tests positive

A building in Tbilisi’s Gldani District resided in by internally displaced persons has been locked down after a local family tested positive for coronavirus. Residents have been placed under compulsory self-isolation 

According to Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze, the measures were taken to avoid the virus spreading among the building’s residents and to make it easier for doctors to work. 

‘We are considering whether they will stay in self-isolation or be transferred to quarantine. The decision will be announced in the following days’, said Tikaradze. 

The lockdown was initially reported by TV station Mtavari Arkhi, which said police were patrolling the neighbourhood.

This is the first time the authorities have locked down an entire building in response to a positive test result.

The head of the National Centre for Disease Control, Amiran Gamkrelidze, said on Tuesday that locking down the building was not done on their recommendation. 

‘As far as I know, there was some kind of inconvenience regarding one residential building. What’s happening there was not our recommendation and I would like to call on everyone to be careful when making statements regarding the people living there’, said Gamkrelidze. 

OC Media has reached out to the Health Ministry to clarify why such measures were necessary in this case.

08 Apr 2020, 14:41

Azerbaijan to provide unemployment benefits 

Azerbaijan has adopted a decree to provide unemployment benefits. According to the decree, people registered as unemployed will receive a lump sum of ₼190 ($110) per month during the special quarantine regime.

Sahil Babayev, the minister of Labour and Social Protection, told a press conference late on Tuesday that only one spouse will be allowed to apply from every family, but that if any of their children are unemployed and over the age of 18 they will have the right to apply separately.

‘For example, if a family of four members has a father, a mother, and two adult children over the age of 18, and one of the parents receives any assistance, then the other is not paid. But children have the right to apply separately’, he said.

He said that in order to receive these funds, a person must register as unemployed by 20 April.

08 Apr 2020, 11:52

Chechnya sends aid to Ingushetia 

Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov has announced that Chechnya has sent medical aid to neighbouring Ingushetia, according to Grozny-Inform.

‘It is a difficult period for all of us now, but we must not forget about our brothers from Ingushetia. If necessary, we shall provide all feasible assistance not only with medical supplies but also with food’, Kadyrov reportedly said.

08 Apr 2020, 11:46

Armenian citizens stranded in Moscow return to Armenia

According to Armenia’s Foreign Ministry, over 400 Armenian citizens who had been stranded at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport due to flight cancellations have finally been able to return to Armenia, on two charter flights on 6 April and 7 April. 

Over 150 tickets were purchased for those who could not afford them through personal donations.

Those that have returned will be kept in quarantine for 14 days. Near 200 Armenian citizens who were not able to return on these flights have been taken to four hotels in Moscow where they will stay until another charter flight can be arranged. 

Over 20 of these 200 declined to go to these hotels and have decided to stay at the Airport. 

08 Apr 2020, 11:44

Closure of agricultural markets across Georgia leaves hundreds unemployed

The Georgian Government closed all agricultural markets in Tbilisi on 7 April leaving hundreds without a source of income. 

Similar measures were taken earlier across Georgia, with agricultural markets closing gradually. 

Tbilisi’s Station Square market. Photo: Dominik K Cagara/OC Media.

‘I don’t have any other income, what should I do, steal from others?’ one market worker who came to work to find the market closed told TV station Mtavari Arkhi.

Others said they needed to pay bank loans which would be impossible unless they continue working. 

‘My husband carries goods here, but now we are frozen. What can we do? tell us. I have to pay 10 a day for my flat, I go to the market, I pick tomatoes. I take home rotten apples to eat. Is this the government?’, another market worker said. 

Agriculture Minister Levan Davitashvili announced the decision to close Tbilisi’s markets on 7 April. He said they would reopen only if recommendations are taken into consideration by market administrations. 

He said that merchants should be equipped with protective gear and sanitary requirements should be satisfied. Davitashvili also said that the government should have a list of merchants, and that people over 70 and those with certain diseases would not be permitted to work.

08 Apr 2020, 09:30

Summary

Welcome to OC Media’s coronavirus live updates for Wednesday, 8 April. We will be bringing you the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic from around the Caucasus.

The biggest developments from yesterday:

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan assured the population during a live Q&A last night that for the duration of the state of emergency no utilities will be turned off due to non-payment. 

Patriarch of Georgia’s Orthodox Church, Ilia II, who was expected to lead the liturgy in the Holy Trinity cathedral as churchgoers celebrate Annunciation, stayed in because ‘doctors insisted’.

Meanwhile, in another parish, an altar boy has tested positive for COVID-19. The case has raised concerns about the Georgian Patriarchate’s continued non-compliance with Georgian health officials’ recommendations on social distancing, including using a common spoon for Holy Communion. 

Around sixty citizens of Azerbaijan are stranded on the Samur bridge border crossing between Russia and Azerbaijan, and over 600 are stranded in Ukraine. 

In Abkhazia, the first case of a novel coronavirus infection has been confirmed. 

Nagorno-Karabakh also reported its first case of COVID-19. 

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