The coronavirus pandemic is slowly spreading in the South Caucasus, with Armenia appearing to be the most badly hit so far. In all 145 cases have been reported in all three countries, but all three countries are braced for a surge in numbers in the coming days.
The largest number of cases appears to be in Armenia where the government this morning reported 84 cases. Other figures released by the health authorities say that 444 are currently under quarantine. The entire workforce (around 500 people) of a textile factory have self-quarantined after one of the workers was diagnosed with the virus.
On Tuesday evening (17 March) prime minister Nikol Pashinyan appeared unannounced at a number of supermarkets and pharmacies in the centre of the capital to check for himself the supply of food and medicines. Pashinyan later said in a live stream on facebook that there appears to be enough food but he noted a shortage of sanitising water. Later he added that given the amount of sanitised water produced in Armenia he could not understand why there was a shortage and told people not to horde.
In Armenia the government is building a new ward at the Nork Hospital for Infectious Diseases which has been designated as the main centre for coronavirus care. Work on the construction of the 40 person ward is going on at great speed and is expected to be finished within days. Earlier it was reported that a 49 year old person had died at the hospital, but in one of his facebook livestreams prime minister Pashinyan said he wanted to make it clear that the patient did not die of the coronavirus
There are currently 38 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Georgia. Transport in Tbilisi has been curtailed. In a message, the Deputy Director for the National Centre for Disease and Public Health, Paata Imnadze, said there was one simple advice to citizens: Stay at home!
Georgia is also to ban the entry of all foreign nationals into the country as from today. Diplomats and members of international organisations are exempted.
The number of reported cases in Azerbaijan so far is 23. Azerbaijan has restricted entry into the Baku-Sumgait-Absheron metropolitan area from other parts of the country. This appears to be an effort to reduce the movement of people ahead of the Novruz holiday which starts on 20 March.
Azerbaijan First Vice President, Mehriban Aliyeva, has issued a special message to compatriots in the face of the coronavirus crisis. "I urge all compatriots to show civic responsibility and strictly follow the recommendations and requirements of the Operational Headquarters under the Cabinet of Ministers", she said. Aliyeva also thanked the World Health Organisation (WHO) for its support. She said Azerbaijan had worked closely with WHO throughout the crisis so far.
source: commonspace.eu with agencies
photo: Work went on throughout the night as Armenia hastens to build a new ward at its Infectious Diseases Hospital (picture courtesy of the facebook feed of Minister of Health of Armenia Arsen Torosyan).