Though no confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Tajikistan, coronavirus on everyone’s mind In Tajikistan

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 Many Tajiks say the pandemic virus is in the back of everybody’s mind and increasingly affecting people’s lives, according to Radio Liberty.

Face masks have become a familiar sight even in remote villages, although there has been no official order or requirement for people to cover their mouths and noses.

Panic buying that sent food prices skyrocketing overnight in early March has since subsided, after authorities sought to reassure people it has enough supplies to feed everyone in the country of some 9 million people.

The State Anti-Monopoly Committee and Prosecutor-General’s Office set up a task force last month to assess the situation in bazaars and stop private traders from artificially raising prices amid the coronavirus crisis.

But some price hikes seem to be inevitable.

Affordable clothes and shoes were being exported from neighboring China and Kyrgyzstan, but those borders are also mainly shut down. Goods from Turkey have fallen victim to restricted international air traffic.

Kazakhstan, a major exporter of flour and wheat to Tajikistan, announced on March 30 that it was temporarily limiting the exports to prioritize them for domestic use.

Many Tajik households’ main concern is the situation in Russia, which hosts hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from Tajikistan. April is normally the prime month for the migrants to leave for Russia, but now they are stuck at home as the savings from the last year have dwindled. Many migrants express the hope that Russia will not extend its border closure beyond April 30.

Meanwhile, desperate for any income to put food on the table, groups of men are gathering in the so-called workers’ market in Dushanbe’s Sultoni Kabir bazaar, waiting for customers to hire them for temporary jobs. There are reportedly around 20 such labor markets across the country.

Leading economy expert Hojimuhammad Umarov warns that, if the government doesn’t take measures to create jobs, the country could face a “serious” social crisis.

“The government must activate factories, invest in creating jobs, and cooperate with the private sector,” Umarov told RFE/RL, adding that authorities should act fast.

The Tajik Health Ministry insists that, as of April 2, there has not been one confirmed case of the coronavirus infection in the country.

The ministry said that 6,272 people were taken under a mandatory two-week quarantine after arriving in Tajikistan from abroad between February 1 and April 2.

It added that, as of April 2, there were 3,913 people still in quarantine and none of those released had the coronavirus.

Galina Perfilyeva, the head of the WHO office in Dushanbe, said on April 1 that Tajikistan had conducted more than 700 tests and that all had come back negative.

She added that the samples were also sent to laboratories in Britain and Russia to rule out any possible errors being made by local test labs.

Despite the reassurances, some Tajiks are wary of the official account and question if everyone who could possibly have been carrying the virus has been tested.

A doctor at the Dushanbe city hospital rejected suggestions that officials weren’t being transparent about the coronavirus in Tajikistan.

“A coronavirus infection is not something that officials would be able to hide from people for long, as it spreads very quickly,” the doctor said on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

Source: Asia Plus