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Washington, Ashgabat Team Up To Fight COVID-19

By Nazrin Gadimova April 7, 2020

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Some countries, including Turkmenistan, are still not affected by the global pandemic. Officials in Ashgabat have not reported any known COVID-19 cases so far. / Stanislav Krasilnikov / TASS

Governments of the United States and Turkmenistan are teaming up to fight the novel coronavirus, which has already infected more than one million people and killed more than 78,000 across the world. 

‘‘The United States remains to be a committed partner of Turkmenistan as it takes steps to protect itself against the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ reads a statement published to the website of the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat. 

According to the document, Washington has made available more than $920,000 in health assistance for Turkmenistan amidst the global coronavirus outbreak. 

Among the measures announced in the package, officials in embassy said local specialists in the Central Asian country would be assisted to prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, bolster risk communication, and more. 

At the same time, the governments of the two nations have recently assisted dozens of U.S. citizens in Turkmenistan in returning to the United States.

On March 28, the U.S. Embassy facilitated the repatriation of U.S. citizens from Turkmenistan to Washington, DC, via a charter flight. The flight took place as part of a global effort by the U.S. Department of State to help American citizens worldwide to return home, which has repatriated more than 43,100 U.S. citizens aboard more than 360 flights from 78 countries since January 29, 2020.

“I am so proud of our team here at the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat as they work hard to protect U.S. citizens and partner with Turkmenistan to respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Matthew S. Klimow, U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan. 

“Our nations stand together in responding to this unprecedented global challenge,” he added.

The embassy’s officials announced this week that one more chartered flight evacuating Americans from Turkmenistan are scheduled to land in Turkmenabat Airport on Thursday, April 9. 

The novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV was first identified in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province after 41 people developed pneumonia without a clear cause. After cases of human-to-human transmissions were confirmed outside China, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak an international public health emergency, but was soon forced to make a new statement to declare the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic due to a sharp surge in cases.

According to an interactive map from Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, the number of global coronavirus cases continues to rise, with 1,381,014 confirmed cases and 78,269 deaths in at least 184 countries and territories.

The United States tops the list with more than 378,000 infected and followed by Spain (more than 140,000 cases), where the number of new confirmed cases fell to 4,273 on Monday, compared to more than 6,000 new cases on Sunday. Italy is ranked three with more than 132,000 infected. At the same time, Italy has more recorded deaths than any other country in the world.

But some countries, including Turkmenistan, are still not affected by the global pandemic. Officials in Ashgabat have not reported any known COVID-19 cases so far.

‘‘Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are basically the two countries out of the region’s 53 affected, where COVID cases have not been registered,’’ said Galina Perfilyeva, WHO’s representative in Tajikistan, in an interview with Tajikistan TV channel. 

Meanwhile, the government in Ashgabat had since last month taken several measures to prevent the spread of the disease to what is Central Asia’s least-populous country. 

Turkmenistan shut down most of the land border crossings more than a month ago, canceled flights with China in early February and redirected all foreign flights from the capital city to the city of Turkmenabad, where a quarantine zone has been created. The government is now working closely with the United Nations’ bodies and WHO to design a joint action plan.