While entire world is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, why Turkmenistan has zero reported cases?

While the world fights the coronavirus and more and more countries lock down their populations, Turkmenistan is holding a massive cycling rally to mark World Health Day on Tuesday.

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Turkmenistan

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread to more than 190 countries but even in this scenario there are many nations that have not reported a single case of the infection. One such country is Turkmenistan. Many experts are concerned its government may be hiding the truth, which could interrupt attempts to end the epidemic.

While the world fights the coronavirus and more and more countries lock down their populations, Turkmenistan is holding a massive cycling rally to mark World Health Day on Tuesday.

The country claims it still has not reported any coronavirus case. However, can we trust the numbers provided by a government renowned for censorship?

A Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Martin McKee, said, “The official health figures from Turkmenistan are notoriously unreliable. During the past decade, they have claimed to have no people living with HIV/Aids, a number that is not believable. We also know that, in the 2000s, they suppressed evidence of a series of epidemics, including plague.”

Afraid of Suggesting COVID-19

Many people in Turkmenistan are even afraid of suggesting COVID-19 may already be in the country.

A resident of the country, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “My associate who works in a state agency told me that I should not say that the disease is here or that I heard about it; otherwise, I may get into trouble.”

 However, The Turkmen authorities are working on tackling a possible outbreak. Together with the UN agencies in the country, they are discussing a plan of action.

The UN Resident Coordinator, Elena Panova, told a source that the action plan includes country-level coordination, risk communication, case investigation, laboratory diagnostics, and other measures.

The country did indeed close most of its borders more than a month ago. It also canceled flights to China and some other countries in early February and started diverting all international flights from the capital to Turkmenabat in the northeast, where a quarantine zone was formed.

Globalized Economy

Professor Makee added, “We have seen how the coronavirus infection has spread rapidly from China to all parts of the world. In this globalized economy that we now live in, every nation is only as secure as the weakest country in the world.”

“Even if other countries manage to get the virus under control, there is a risk of continued seeding of infections from those countries that have failed to. It seems that Turkmenistan may well be another example,” he added.

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