Because the Covid-19 diagram will get lined by growing red circles, several international locations restful have not registered a single case of infection, including one among the most repressive states on this planet – Turkmenistan. Many consultants are concerned its authorities can also be hiding the truth, which would possibly maybe maybe disrupt makes an are attempting to total the pandemic.
While the world battles coronavirus and more and more international locations lock down their populations, Turkmenistan is maintaining a mass biking rally to impress World Health Day on Tuesday.
The Central Asian country claims it restful has zero coronavirus conditions. Nonetheless to find we belief the figures supplied by a authorities famed for censorship?
“Real health statistics from Turkmenistan are notoriously unreliable,” acknowledged Professor Martin McKee from the London College of Hygiene and Tropical Medication, who has studied the Turkmen healthcare system.
“For the previous decade they’ve claimed to construct now not have any other folks residing with HIV/Aids, a figure that’s now not plausible. We also know that, in the 2000s, they suppressed evidence of a sequence of outbreaks, including plague.”
Many in Turkmenistan are even fearful of suggesting Covid-19 can also already be in the country.
“My acquaintance who works in a train agency told me that I have to now not dispute that the virus is here or that I heard about it, in any other case I can also to find into ache,” acknowledged a resident of the capital Ashgabat, who requested to remain anonymous.
The Turkmen authorities are, however, engaged on tackling a which that you just would possibly also imagine outbreak.
Along with UN companies in the country, they are discussing a knowing of action.
The UN Resident Co-ordinator, Elena Panova, told the BBC that this knowing integrated country level co-ordination, risk communication, case investigation, laboratory diagnostics and assorted measures.
When I requested her whether or now not the UN relied on the official figures showing Turkmenistan had no confirmed Covid-19 conditions, Ms Panova kept a long way flung from giving a straight resolution.
“We are relying on official data because that is what all international locations are doing,” she acknowledged. “There would possibly maybe be now not any inquire of of belief because that’s the map it indubitably works.”
Ms Panova acknowledged early measures on restricting race would possibly maybe maybe need contributed to lack of confirmed conditions.
Turkmenistan did indeed shut most of its land border crossings more than a month ago.
It also cancelled flights to China and a few assorted international locations in early February and began diverting all world flights from the capital to Turkmenabat in the north-east, where a quarantine zone used to be created.
Nonetheless, in step with several residents, any other folks were ready bribe their map out of the zone and take a long way flung from two weeks of isolation in a tent.
Ms Panova acknowledged all individuals arriving in the country and these showing symptoms were being examined for Covid-19. Nonetheless, she would possibly maybe maybe now not give true figures of how many exams were conducted a day and how many test kits Turkmenistan had total.
“What we trace in talking to authorities officials is that they’ve sufficient exams.”
Nonetheless how willing is the health system to tackle a coronavirus outbreak?
“We don’t know,” Ms Panova admitted. “We were told that they’ve a definite level of preparedness and we don’t doubt it… because the hospitals listed below are very wisely equipped.”
“Nonetheless, if there would possibly maybe be a virulent disease that’s a beefy tension on the health system like in any assorted country. So, no matter how important that you just would possibly also have willing, it repeatedly is insufficient. That’s why we’re already talking to them about procuring ventilators, and also assorted kinds of kit.”
There would possibly maybe be some sense of awareness of the outbreak amongst the public. Motion between cities has been restricted and these that enter Ashgabat have to now have a health care provider’s price.
Markets and locations of work are being fumigated with smoke from a impact of grass called yuzarlik, ragged in natural treatments, after President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov acknowledged burning it would possibly maybe maybe ward off the virus – no matter there being no evidence.
Nonetheless unlike loads of the world, everyday existence in Turkmenistan continues as fashioned.
Cafes and restaurants are commence. Crowds accumulate for weddings. Nobody wears masks and mass events are going ahead.
It looks the country is in denial about admitting the predominant menace posed by coronavirus.
Why would possibly maybe maybe that be? The World Health Day mass cycle can also present a proof.
President Berdymukhamedov is the largest big name and the predominant focal level of the annual match.
The image of health is portion of his cult of persona. Teach TV on a typical foundation presentations him lifting weights in the gymnasium, or biking on his bike. He’s the predominant driver of “health and happiness” campaigns in which train workers carrying similar uniforms to find their morning workouts.
The valuable message of all these events is that the nation is healthy, and thus gay, thanks to the president.
Mr Berdymukhamedov proclaimed his presidency because the “period of would possibly maybe maybe and happiness”. And a virulent disease of Covid-19 would possibly maybe maybe snarl how hollow his messages are.
It is for this motive the Turkmen authorities would possibly maybe maybe are attempting to veil a virulent disease, even supposing its electorate to find to find contaminated.
And that is the reason what worries Prof McKee.
“We have got seen how the Covid-19 infection moved like a flash from China to all substances of the world. On this globalised financial system that we now dwell in, every country is supreme as stable because the weakest country on this planet,” he acknowledged.
“Although assorted international locations role up to to find the epidemic below take watch over, there would possibly maybe be a risk of continued seeding of infections from these international locations which have didn’t. Apparently Turkmenistan can also wisely be one other example.”