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World

‘Coronavirus free’ Turkmenistan reopens

ASHGABAT: A raft of restrictions on travel and businesses imposed by Turkmenistan’s authoritarian government...
Updated 02 Apr, 2021

ASHGABAT: A raft of restrictions on travel and businesses imposed by Turkmenistan’s authoritarian government despite it claiming zero coronavirus cases have been lifted, an AFP correspondent saw Thursday. Restaurants and religious buildings in the capital Ashgabat that had been closed since the visit of a World Health Organisation (WHO) delegation in July had opened their doors, although customers and worshippers had not returned in force. Internal train services have also been partially restored, a communication on the state railway company’s website said Thursday, although regular air travel to and from the Central Asian country remains suspended.

The WHO has not publicly cast doubt on Turkmenistan’s zero cases claim, but advised the government to take measures “as if Covid-19 was circulating” during the July visit. Autocrat leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov hailed zero cases as a “big achievement” in a rare reference to the disease in November, as he opened a hospital.

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