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Coronavirus live updates | Orthodox priest in Tbilisi tests positive for COVID-19

14 April 2020
The Patriarchate in Tbilisi. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

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14 Apr 2020, 20:00

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

14 Apr 2020, 19:56

You can read our summary of today's events in Georgia as Easter celebrations approach.

Read the full story: Georgian Government will not close churches — ‘especially on Easter’

14 Apr 2020, 19:40

Armenian government approves twelfth assistance package

The Armenian government has announced it has approved its 12th financial assistance package, which is considered an expansion of the 11th package approved 13 April.

The beneficiaries of this package include residents of Armenia whose gas bill for the month of February 2020 cost ֏10,001–֏30,000 ($20-$61) and whose electricity bill for the same month came to ֏5,001–֏10,000 ($10-$20). For such people, 30% of the bills for these utilities will be covered by the state. 

14 Apr 2020, 18:56

Residents of Kabardino-Balkaria who lose their jobs eligible for additional benefits

Residents of Kabardino-Balkaria who lost their jobs during the coronavirus epidemic and registered with the employment service from 1 March to 30 April will also be eligible for an additional payment of ₽5,000 ($69), head of the region, Kazbek Kokov, has announced.

Only those who receive the minimum unemployment benefit of ₽1,500 ($21) will be eligible.

14 Apr 2020, 18:49

Georgia may close cemeteries

The Georgian government is considering temporarily closing cemeteries in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Many Georgians traditionally gather in cemeteries on Easter, which this year falls on 19 April.

A cemetery in Guria. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media

Georgian PM Giorgi Gakharia announced on Tuesday that the decision would be made in the coming days.

‘We are seriously considering this, especially in the big cities. Unfortunately, we might have to close cemeteries’, said Gakharia and added that this is directly linked to the spread of the virus.

14 Apr 2020, 18:44

Gakharia says churches will not close, ‘especially on Easter’

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has said that churches in the country will not close.

‘You know what would be ideal? For the church to remain open and the law not be violated’, Gakharia said.

‘The law won’t be violated and this will be the call both from the government and the church’.

White dots on the ground on 28 March outside the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

He added that people should take responsibility for their own health and not wait for the clergy to tell them not to go to church. He said the public should not expect such calls from the government either. 

‘I’m sure our wise citizens will understand this’, said Gakharia.

14 Apr 2020, 18:40

Kabardino Balkaria to self-isolate arrivals from Moscow

Starting today, all arrivals from Moscow to Nalchik Airport will have their temperatures measured and will have to stay in self-isolation for 14 days. 

Sanitary checkpoints will also be set up at the land borders of the region, TASS reports with reference to the chief state sanitary doctor of Kabardino-Balkaria Zhirasslan Pagov.

14 Apr 2020, 18:34

Governor of Stavropol Krai calls to minimise parishioners attending Easter services

The Governor of the Stavropol Krai has appealed to the Orthodox Christian clergy in the region to minimise the number of parishioners attending churches. 

According to his order, all worshipers will receive protective masks and antiseptic liquids and churches will be disinfected.

Easter services will be broadcasted on local television channels and public transportation to cemeteries, where people generally gather on Easter, will not operate. 

Those entering the region must undergo 14 days of self-isolation, being tested for COVID-19 on the 1st and 10th day.

14 Apr 2020, 17:32

Georgia closes off major cities and prolongs state of emergency

The Georgian government has announced they will prolong the state of emergency until 10 May in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

According to Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, the government will appeal to President Salome Zurabishvili to make the change after which it will need to be approved by Parliament. 

Additionally, the government said they were prohibiting entrance and exit to the four largest cities in the country, Tbilisi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, and Batumi, for 10 days. The closure will start at 21:00 tomorrow.

‘We can say that we have fully entered the stage of domestic spread’, Gakharia said.

‘It’s hard to say when we will reach the peak of spread […] These are absolutely necessary measures to slow down the spread of the virus.’

14 Apr 2020, 17:25

Second round of presidential elections go ahead in Nagorno-Karabakh 

The second round of presidential elections are underway in Nagorno-Karabakh despite the pandemic. 

Former Prime Minister Arayik Harutyunyan who had received 49.3% in the first round is facing Minister of Foreign Affairs Masis Mayilyan, who received 26.4%. 

Due to COVID-19, there was no in person campaigning. Mayilyan even told voters to stay home to reduce the risk of transmission.

At 9:00, 281 polling stations opened for 103,637 eligible voters. Polls will close at 20:00.

Photo: Hetq.

As of 14:00 turnout was 28.4%.

According to the Central Electoral Committee, all polling stations have been disinfected and antimicrobial disinfectants will be provided to voters. Near 71,000 masks and pairs of gloves will be distributed to voters. Voters will also be given their own pens to cast their votes. 

The first round went ahead on 31 March despite many calls to declare a state of emergency and postpone the elections. 

[Read more: Nagorno-Karabakh elections yield inconclusive results]

Restrictions have been implemented on freedom of movement, schools have been shut down and, the border with Armenia is partially closed. 

At the time of the first round Nagorno-Karabakh had no confirmed cases, while Armenia, with which it shares its only open border, had 532 cases.

Today, Nagorno-Karabakh already has six confirmed cases (the first case was confirmed on 7 April), while Armenia has 1,067 confirmed cases.

On 12 April, President Bako Sahakyan announced that they were implementing an Emergency Situation in the country, a measure short of a state of emergency. This allowed the country to go ahead with today’s elections.

14 Apr 2020, 14:57

More on the patriarch security guard who tested positive

The infected man told TV Pirveli that he was in the Patriarchate two days ago and does not know where he could have caught the infection. 

‘I don’t know where I caught it. It’s less likely [I caught it] in the Patriarchate, because we are safe there. We measure the temperatures of everyone upon entrance. There’s a quarantine too, people don’t just go in. We don’t have contact with people.’ 

‘Probably I got it in the region, the shop or pharmacy, where I tend to go’, he said.

He added that while he had been in contact with many people this did not include members of the clergy.

The spokesperson of Patriarchate Andria Jagmaidze posted on Facebook that they don’t have guard service, but are provided with this service from the government. 

‘The person who was patrolling the entrance of the Patriarchate’s building was infected. Two more people who served with them were checked and tested negative’, said Jagmaidze. 

He added that the infected man did not have any contact with employees of the patriarchate other than at the entrance.

14 Apr 2020, 14:54

Armenia registers almost double the number of recoveries as new cases

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has announced that for the first time since the outbreak began, Armenia has registered almost double the number of recoveries as new confirmed cases. 

In the last 24 hours, 54 people were announced to have recovered while 28 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total number of people infected to 1,067 with 786 cases still active.

The PM also stated that two more deaths were registered yesterday, bringing the total number of deaths to 16. The average age of fatalities is now 74.8.

Pashinyan urged the public to remain cautious. He told employers to implement extraordinary precautionary measures to prevent any spread of the virus in their establishments as more people are set to return to work during the new extension of the state of emergency. 

He stated that the Special Commission on the State of Emergency would soon publish guidelines for companies to carry out preventative measures. 

‘We have to be able to not only maintain the positive dynamic of these past few days but also make sure that the peak of the virus is behind us,’ said Pashinyan.  

14 Apr 2020, 12:59

Armenian citizens return from Sudan via Georgia

The Armenian Embassy in Georgia has announced that on 13 April, eight Armenian citizens were able to return to Armenia from Sudan via Georgia.

In collaboration with Georgian authorities, the eight citizens were flown from Khartoum to Tbilisi. 

From there they were transported to Armenia by minibus, escorted by police to the Bagratashen border checkpoint with Armenia.

Photo: Armenian embassy to Georgia.

14 Apr 2020, 12:45

Georgian Patriarchate security guard tests positive for coronavirus

A security guard working at the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church has tested positive for coronavirus, Church spokesperson Andria Jagmaidze has told Netgazeti

Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

On 14 April it was also revealed that a Georgian Orthodox priest has been infected with the coronavirus. According to Jagmaidze, the priest worked in a church in central Tbilisi’s Vera District and had held a service together with other priests several days ago.

Church services have gone ahead uninterrupted despite a ban on gatherings of more than three people.

14 Apr 2020, 12:14

Azerbaijan to cover fees of socially vulnerable students 

Azerbaijani Prime minister Ali Asadov has signed a decree to cover the university fees of socially vulnerable students for 2020. The measures exclude students studying a second bachelor’s degree.

According to the decree, financial support will cover students receiving targeted social assistance or where both parents have disabilities, are unemployed, are pensioners, or receive other social assistance. 

Vulnerable students in universities abroad or in specialised education institutions will receive 50% financial assistance for their annual fees. 

Elnur Mammadov, an advisor to the Minister of Education, told Trend that ₼40 million ($24 million) would be allocated for these purposes. He said around 20,000 people would be eligible, around one in two students. 

14 Apr 2020, 11:07

Orthodox priest in Georgia tests positive for COVID-19

A Georgian Orthodox priest and two members of his family have tested positive for the coronavirus, Maka Sologhashvili, a member of the Bochorishvili Clinic’s supervisory board, has told journalists. 

The priest was admitted to the hospital on Monday. According to Sologhashvili, it is unknown which member of the family was the source of the infection.

‘He had a dry cough and high temperature’, she added. 

A spokesperson for the Church told Publika the priest worked in a church in central Tbilisi’s Vera District.

A spokesperson also told Netgazeti that the infected priest had held a service together with other priests several days ago. Church services have gone ahead uninterrupted despite a ban on gatherings of more than three people.

As of 14 April, 296 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Georgia; 68 of them have recovered and 3 have died.

There are 4,856 people quarantined and 458 under observation. 

14 Apr 2020, 10:46

Azerbaijan extends electricity subsidies

Azerbaijani Prime Minister Ali Asadov has signed a decree extending electricity subsidies. Monthly electricity consumption of up to 400 kWh will now be charged at the preferential rate of ₼0.07 ($0.04) per kWh. Previously this rate applied to consumption of up to 100 kWh.

Electricity consumption exceeding this volume will cost ₼0.11 ($0.07) per kWh. 

According to the decree, the measures will apply to April and May from the day of the last reading meter reading in April.

14 Apr 2020, 09:00

Summary

Welcome to OC Media’s coronavirus live updates for Tuesday, 14 April. We will be bringing you the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic from around the Caucasus.

The biggest developments from yesterday:

On Sunday in Georgia, groups of believers flocked to churches throughout the country to mark Palm Sunday, violating the rules on a minimum 2-metre physical distance between individuals and a ban on gatherings of 3+ people.

Talking to Rustavi 2, Georgian Dream Executive Secretary Irakli Kobakhidze said that violations during Palm Sunday were 'unacceptable' and that ‘the state will react to them'.

Advisor to the head of Chechnya, Adam Delimkhanov, said that residents of Chechnya outside the republic would be denied entry to Chechnya unless they have the documented proof of testing negative for the novel coronavirus with them.

The Medical Department of Armenia’s Armed Forces announced that the army will not disclose information about the number of infected military personnel or the number of those in self-isolation.

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Read more from yesterday as well as the latest stories:

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