Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: Uzbekistan records its highest virus cases for year, imposes restrictions

Filed on June 25, 2021

Entry by bus or car into the capital Tashkent will only be allowed in cases of 'urgent necessity' beginning June 28.

Uzbekistan on Friday recorded its biggest rise in coronavirus cases this year as the government ordered restrictions on movement into the nation's capital.

Central Asia's most populous country is bracing for another difficult summer after authorities earlier this week said they had found cases of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Uzbekistan, a landlocked republic of around 34 million people, declared 476 new cases on Friday, bringing its total to 108,184 including 725 fatalities.

These figures are likely a significant undercount, with data showing a 13.5 percent rise in deaths in 2020 from 2019.

Entry by bus and car into the capital Tashkent will only be allowed in cases of "urgent necessity" for two weeks beginning June 28, according to an order published on the health ministry's Telegram channel on Friday.

The country's coronavirus commission also recommended that prayers be held outside, rather than inside mosques.

In neighbouring Kazakhstan, where the Delta variant is also present, authorities are drawing up restrictions for unvaccinated service sector personnel and employees of medium and large enterprises.

It is not yet clear whether they will go as far as officials in Russia, who last week mandated vaccinations for 60 percent of employees in Moscow's service sector, citing a "dramatic" rise in coronavirus infections.

Coronavirus infections across former Soviet Central Asia surged last summer when hospitals were overwhelmed by new cases.

Several of the region's governments were slow to acknowledge the crisis, with secretive Turkmenistan -- a neighbour of Uzbekistan -- yet to record a single case of the disease.

Tajikistan claimed improbably to have eradicated the coronavirus in January but admitted to fresh cases this month, blaming the "carelessness" of citizens for the outbreak.

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