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Georgia quarantines Marneuli and Bolnisi 

23 March 2020
Police have blocked off the entrances to the area. Image via Formula.

The Georgian government has quarantined the municipalities of Marneuli and Bolnisi and put them on lockdown after a woman tested positive for the coronavirus. Health officials have so far been unsuccessful in identifying the source of the woman’s infection.

Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia announced that no one was to be allowed in or out of the two neighbouring municipalities in southern Georgia until further notice.

‘This is a situation we have been discussing for several days — that a domestic spread starts.’

‘We should all understand that today, our epidemiology experts identified 90 people the woman came into contact with and this is not all of them.’ 

He said that the municipalities would be under lockdown, with everything closed except for grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals, and critical infrastructure.

Public transport will be banned, and people will be prohibited from moving within the municipalities except to buy food or medicine or to get medical assistance. 

‘When we will have the opportunity, we will allow local residents to conduct agricultural activities’, Gakharia said. ‘The Interior Ministry will guarantee order.’

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Marneuli hospital, where the infected woman was being treated, has also been quarantined. 

From tomorrow doctors will start going door to door to identify possible cases of infection. 

Gakharia said the woman contracted the virus at a memorial service to mark the first anniversary of a death.

Asked about Church services, which have gone ahead despite a ban on gatherings of 10 or more people, he said they would ‘hinder us from dealing with this challenge more efficiently’.

He appealed to the public to avoid unnecessary contacts with others. ‘we should keep distance, whether in church or the supermarket’. 

He said that doing so was not only taking responsibility for oneself’

‘This means taking responsibility for the people next to us, family members, neighbours, our citizens, colleagues, and in the end, the country’s health and future.’