Coronavirus briefing: Uzbekistan


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The numbers:

– Uzbekistan has said on July 6 that it now has 10,143 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It announced its first case on March 15, a woman who had returned from France. 35 people have now died from the coronavirus.


Lockdown details:

— The Uzbek authorities rolled out a lockdown across the country starting with Tashkent on March 24.

— Lockdown was eased from mid-May and restaurants, businesses and cafes have been allowed to reopen under a staggered red, orange and green system that twill signify an areas infection level. Some mosques, in areas considered to be low risk, have reopened.

— Since then, though, coronavirus cases have surged and the authorities have reimposed localised lockdowns.


Economic impact:

— Uzbekistan ‘s government said that it wants to borrow $1.1b to support its economy deal with the impact of the coronavirus. It said that it will borrow this cash on the international debt market.

— Fitch, the ratings agency, said that Uzbekistan’s economy has been relatively resilient to the shock of the spread of the coronavirus. It said that the resilience was built on the government’s “robust external and fiscal buffers, a diversified commodity export base and access to external official financing” (April 10). It still said that GDP growth in 2020 in Uzbekistan would drop to 2% from an earlier prediction of 4.9%.

— Uzbekistan’s Central Bank cut its interest rate by 1 percentage point to 15%, its first interest rate move since 2018, to give businesses support to borrow money to offset the impact of the coronavirus.

— Pres. Shavkat Mirziyoyev said on April 29 that he would allow vegetable and fruit trucks to travel between regions to keep the important agricultural sector alive. Key to these routes are the pass between the fertile Ferghana Valley and Tashkent and the roads between Samarkand and the remote Karakalpakstan in the west of the country.


Other news:

— Critics have praised the reaction of the Uzbek government under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the coronavirus. They said that he has approached the pandemic in a far more open way than his predecessor, Islam Karimov, would have done. The Uzbek authorities operate a Telegram channel for information on the spread of the coronavirus which has 1.5m followers. 

— New laws in Uzbekistan give the authorities the power to hand out fines to people who are considered to be creating public panic, imprison people for up to five years for hoarding and for disseminating fake news and misinformation.

— Uzbek construction workers completed building a 10,000 bed hospital/quarantine centre outside Tashkent (April 22).

— Looking to restart its the tourist sector, Uzbekistsn said that it would give foriegn tourists $3,000 each if they contracted coronavirus while on holiday in the country.


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