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Coronavirus live updates | Georgian PM says churches to remain open for Easter

15 April 2020
Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

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15 Apr 2020, 19:54

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

15 Apr 2020, 19:14

Karachay-Cherkessia puts school on TV

At the initiative of the Head of Karachay-Cherkessia, Rashid Temrezov, from today onwards the Arkhyz 24 TV channel will air classes in all school subjects for students from grades one to eleven as part of the Learning at Home project. 

To accommodate this, the republican television channel completely redesigned the daytime broadcasting schedule.

For high school students preparing for the unified state exams, the channel will also air additional classes on weekends.

15 Apr 2020, 18:51

Georgian government: Facebook deleted bogus pages

Left to right: Nodar Rukhadze, Amiran Gamkrelidze, Marina Ezugbaia. Photo Credit left to right: Nodar Rukhadze, Amiran Gamkrelidze, Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Today, the Georgian government claimed that at their request, Facebook got rid of dozens of accounts pretending to belong to Amiran Gamkrelidze, Director of Georgia's National Centre for Disease Control. 

The government said that these Facebook pages, which engaged in misinforming the public, had appeared right after the outbreak of novel coronavirus in the country. 

Briefing the media today, Medical Director of Tbilisi's Hospital of Infectious Diseases, Marina Ezugbaia, also warned the public not to trust any account active on Facebook pretending to be her. 

Apart from bogus accounts posing as Georgian medical officials, several Georgian-language groups have also recently popped up spreading a conspiracy theory that links COVID-19 pandemic to upcoming 5G mobile network technology. 

The World Health Organisation has refuted any connection between COVID-19 and 5G. 

Last December, the Georgian government itself was accused by Facebook of running fake news pages. A number of Georgian civil activists and government critics have complained that the problem has persisted even during the state of emergency in Georgia. 

In late March, Tengiz Tsertsvadze, the General Director of Tbilisi's Infectious Diseases hospital, had to retract an allegation that activist Nodar Rukhadze welcomed the outbreak of COVID-19 as a means to ‘remove the elderly from the population’, a fake quote disseminated by anti-opposition pages on Facebook. 

15 Apr 2020, 17:47

School year ends early in Kabardino-Balkaria 

Pupils in grades one to eight in Kabardino-Balkaria will complete the school year ahead of schedule — on 30 April — the Ministry of Education of the region has announced on its Instagram. Students of grades from grade nine to 11 participate in distance learning until 5 June.

The administration of the city district of Nalchik also decided to issue monetary compensation for over 15000 pupils from grades one to four,  who are eligible for the free breakfast program, while they are participating in distance-learning.

15 Apr 2020, 16:02

Archbishop of Makhachkala and Grozny asks parishioners to stay home on Easter

Archbishop Varlaam of Makhachkala and Grozny called on the Orthodox believers of Chechnya, Daghestan, and Ingushetia to stay at home on Easter.

‘For the sake of pastoral care for the life and health of people, and also in response to a request from the republic’s sanitary authorities, with heartache, I urge Orthodox Christians to refrain from visiting the churches of the Makhachkala eparchy and stay in their homes, praying at home, and also participating in divine services through direct broadcasts’, he said in an appeal made on the website of the Makhachkala eparchy.

He also said that from 15 April, services in the Makhachkala eparchy will be temporarily held only with the participation of clergy and the necessary parish staff and volunteers.

Meanwhile, in Stavropol Krai, has announced that cemeteries will be closed from today.

15 Apr 2020, 14:37

Georgia to start closing cemeteries

A cemetary in Guria. Photo: Mari Nikuradze/OC Media.

According to Zviad Shalamberidze, governor of Georgia's western Imereti region, 13 cemeteries in Kutaisi and three in Zestaponi, a city 35km south-east of Kutaisi, will be closed ‘for several days’. 

An announcement came four days before Easter — held this year on Sunday, 19 April. Customarily, many Georgians visit cemeteries on the Monday after Easter, something that the authorities urged residents to abstain from, due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

15 Apr 2020, 11:57

Abkhazian Public Chamber advocates online broadcast of Easter service

On Tuesday, the Public Chamber of Abkhazia, an advisory body of the Presidential Administration, appealed to Abkhazian citizens to celebrate Easter at home so as to avoid the further spread of the novel coronavirus. 

As of today, Abkhazian authorities have confirmed three cases of COVID-19. Last Friday, they introduced fines for going out of the home except to purchase food or medicine, or to go work — so long as one’s profession is recognised as 'essential'. 

The Chamber has presented an online broadcast of Easter liturgies as the best and safest option for marking the holiday.

 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.

 

15 Apr 2020, 11:21

Georgian health officials warn public health system may become overwhelmed

Ekaterine Tikaradze. Official photo.

According to Georgian Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze, there are a total of 256 infectious disease specialists in Georgia who will only be able to handle 853 patients. 

Talking to Georgian TV channel Imedi last night, Tikaradze also warned that Georgia has over 1700 ventilators stocked but the 488 resuscitation specialists in the country will be able to administer no more than 1200 beds.

Defending the government’s recent decision to put the four biggest Georgian cities  — Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, and Rustavi — under a 10-day lockdown, the Georgian Health Minister warned that the country’s hospital sector could be overwhelmed unless restrictive measures are not followed. 

Amiran Gamkrelidze, Director of Georgia's National Centre for Disease Control, also warned the public in his Facebook live broadcast yesterday not to 'play with fire', urging Georgians to abstain from visiting churches and graveyards for the next two weeks.

On 14 April, Georgia registered a 30 case jump, the highest within 24 hours so far.

15 Apr 2020, 09:00

Summary

Welcome to OC Media’s coronavirus live updates for Wednesday, 15 April. We will be bringing you the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic from around the Caucasus.

The biggest developments from yesterday:

An Orthodox priest in Georgia tested positive for COVID-19 less than a week before Easter celebrations are due to go ahead. The Church has resisted calls to hold the rituals behind closed doors.

Georgia closed down entry and exit to the country’s four largest cities, Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, and Rustavi. The government also extended the state of emergency until 10 May.

The second round of presidential elections went ahead in Nagorno-Karabakh despite the pandemic.

Armenia recorded almost twice as many recoveries as new cases within the previous 24 hours.

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