SEATTLE, Washington — On April 30, 2020, Tajikistan reported its first cases of coronavirus in the country — about 15. The number of cases has since spiked in May. As of June 20, they have confirmed a total of 5,399 cases of COVID-19 in Tajikistan.
Attempts to Stem COVID-19 in Tajikistan
In early April, the International Development Association financed $11.3 million for the Tajikistan government in order to support the Tajikistan Emergency COVID-19 Project, which would help Tajikistan respond to the hazards presented by the coronavirus. The World Bank approved this funding. Healthcare amenities in Tajikistan received 100 Intensive Care Unit beds due to this funding. According to The World Bank, the money was also used to purchase “testing kits, laboratory reagents and personal protective equipment for medical personnel,” in addition to financing communication activities to keep the public informed about the status of COVID-19.
Impact of COVID-19 on Tajikistan
As of May 19, authorities suspended outdoor sporting games and closed open-air and partially enclosed markets in Dushanbe. They also mandated wearing face masks and public social distancing. Schools and universities are scheduled to be closed until August 17, and officials decreed that mosques be closed as well. They have also suspended international passenger flights, and all arrivals must isolate themselves for 14 days. Five government labs offer tests in Tajikistan: Khujand, Kulob and Bokhtar each have a testing center, and Dushanbe has two.
As of June 20, Tajikistan has confirmed 52 deaths from COVID-19. Tajikistan was poised to recover from COVID-19 in mid-June. Cases that were previously spiking in mid-May grew stagnant towards the end of the month. On May 19, officials said that about 400 COVID-19 patients had recovered. By June 20, out of the 5,399 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tajikistan. The country stated that about 3,894 people have recovered. Though some anonymous activists are skeptical of Tajikistan’s COVID-19 death count, saying that it is closer to 437, officials have not confirmed this. Since then, cases have steadily declined, with only 40 new cases confirmed on August 16. As of June 15, officials have stated various institutions, private businesses, restaurants and salons may reopen. However, they still advise citizens to wear face masks and abide by social distancing.
Responses to COVID-19 in Tajikistan
Countries such as Germany, China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan provided aid to Tajikistan in order to help them respond to COVID-19. The Branch of the German Caritas Association in Tajikistan delivered 810 sanitation kits, 2,000 protective suits and 400 food and sustenance packages to Tajikistan (a total cost of €33,500).
According to the Asia-Plus, a Tajik news source, China provided Tajikistan with “2,000 kits of nucleic acid reagents to detect the virus that causes COVID-19, 1,000 medical protective coveralls, 500 non-contact thermometers, 1,000 medial eyeglasses, 1,000 pairs of disposable medical gloves and 1,000 pairs of disposable medical overshoes.”
The President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, provided humanitarian aid to both Kazakhstan’s neighbors, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. This package supplied $3 million worth of flour, which totaled up to 5,000 tons.
Asia-Plus also recorded that Uzbekistan provided Tajikistan assistance in early April, which included wheat flour, “disinfectants, medical gowns, disposable medical gloves, medical eyeglasses, face masks and disposable medical shoe covers.” In early May, Uzbekistan donated lung ventilators and medical containers.
With the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tajikistan stagnating, Tajikistan continuously had fewer cases after a spike in May. Humanitarian assistance and swift regulations may help in lowering the confirmed cases, and one may hope that cases will no longer spike again.
– Ayesha Asad