As the fight against COVID-19 continues across the world and the virus maintains its stranglehold on the global economy, the Tribune keeps you up-to-date with the latest vaccines and infection data across the region. Numbers reflect World Health Organisation data.
- 269,874 cases
- 5,499 deaths
Daily case numbers dropped below 1,000 on Monday to 601 after a rise in cases and death in the past few weeks of September and the beginning of October, in what could be attributed to the fourth wave of coronavirus.
The rate of vaccination remains slow in Armenia and only 170,000 people are fully vaccinated. The proportion of the vaccinated population is estimated at 7%. This prompted the government to introduce regulations mandating all government workers and a large list of private sector industries to get vaccinated. Despite this, most Armenians are still hesitant to vaccinate, with polls showing 50 percent of respondents saying they “definitely” or “probably” would not get vaccinated. Currently, Sputnik V, Astra-Zeneca, CoronaVac, Spikevax and Sinovac vaccines are in use and are free for all citizens and foreigners over the age of 18.
Since May 2020, the country has had very few restrictions and what regulations do remain are widely flouted. Masks are almost never seen. Armenia was the only nation in the Caucasus which opted not to impose a second lockdown following the spike in coronavirus cases all three experienced last fall.
- 489,226 cases
- 6,625 deaths
Daily cases and deaths are continuing their decline in Azerbaijan. Vaccine adoption remains steady, with 44.7 percent of the population fully vaccinated as of October 11.
The Ministry of Health of Azerbaijan has approved the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15. Vaccination of adolescents in this age group will require appropriate medical indications and permission from both parents.
On Monday the Ministry of Health called on citizens from the risk group who have had two doses of the vaccine, all health workers and citizens over 50 years old to be vaccinated with the third booster dose of the vaccine.
The government eased quarantine restrictions in a wide range of areas from 1st October as vaccination levels climb and numbers of infections decline.
Public transport will now operate regularly seven days a week. Concert halls, cinemas, children’s theatres and other cultural institutions will be able to resume operations subject to 50 percent capacity rules and presentation of vaccination cards. Eighty percent of staff in this sector must be vaccinated. Hours of operation for these and other sites will be extended.
Inter-city transport will resume, subject to passengers being vaccinated by one dose by 1st October, two doses – by 1st November.
In September, Ramin Bayramli. the head of the body responsible for communicating government measures on the pandemic, the union for the Management of Medical Territorial Units, resigned. He gave no reason for stepping down.
The government expanded the list of countries, whose citizens can now enter Azerbaijan – added to the list were mainly European states.
Officials have noted the presence of the “Delta” and “Alpha” variants of COVID had now been detected and registered in Azerbaijan.
Pfizer, Russia’s Sputnik V, AstraZeneca and Chinese CoronaVac vaccines are in use. A trial combining the Sputnik Light and AstraZeneca vaccine is also taking place in Azerbaijan, showing promising results of over 4 times increase in antibodies among 85% of trial participants.
- 551,800 cases
- 4,243 deaths.
Daily cases and deaths are currently at their peak since the pandemic began. Belarus reports just under 2,000 cases and 15 deaths daily.
The vaccination rates remain insufficient to curb the spread of coronavirus, with the latest reports showing only 16 percent of the population fully vaccinated.
As of October 9 citizens will be required to wear face masks and maintain distance in shops, public catering outlets, consumer service outlets, theaters, movie theaters, during visits to mass events, stadiums, enterprises, healthcare institutions, drugstores, and other places.
Deputy Prime Minister Igor Petrushenko emphasised the importance of vaccinations on October 4th during his visit to the children’s infectious diseases hospital. He stressed that enough vaccines are available already, while addressing journalists: “I want to urge all citizens of our country to actively go for vaccination in order to save themselves, their relatives and friends and colleagues.
The opposition NEXTA website said official statistics were misleading. It said death rates in hospitals had climbed last year from 2019 levels and suggested COVID deaths had been mixed in with other causes.
Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund said it was launching a “virtual mission” to Belarus to determine how $1 billion it allocated as part of the worldwide distribution of new standard drawing rights was being used. The funds were intended to help fight the spread of the COVID-19.
The allocation was criticised by opposition leaders and Western analysts, citing President Alexander Lukashenko’s crushing of all protests since his disputed re-election last year to a sixth term in office.
The Kremlin announced that Russian and Belarussian officials were working to establish a full production cycle of the Sputnik-V vaccine in Belarus.
Belarusian scientists in July created a prototype COVID vaccine, according to Vladimir Gusakov, the Academy of Sciences’ head, told Belarusian television.
A made-in Belarus vaccine against COVID-19, known as “Sputnik Lite”, a variation of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has been in use alongside a Chinese vaccine.
President Alexander Lukashenko, initially dismissive of the pandemic, has now offered visa-free entry to anyone wishing to be vaccinated in the country.
Lukashenko initially branded the coronavirus a “psychosis”, refused to impose restrictions and allowed mass gatherings like football matches to proceed without impediment – until he caught the virus himself.
Belarus has been slapped with new Western sanctions after authorities diverted a scheduled aircraft headed for Lithuania, ordered it to land in Minsk and arrested a dissident journalist who was on board. Lukashenko has defended the move as necessary to protect his people.
He weathered a wave of mass protests last year against what his opponents said was his rigged re-election. Amnesty International says health workers who have supported the protest movement have been subject to punitive action from the authorities.
- 628,719 cases
- 9,192 deaths
While daily cases and deaths are on the decline in Georgia, the vaccination rates have almost flatlined at a low rate, questioning the country’s future prospects of curbing the pandemic.
The head of the Infectious Diseases and AIDS Centre of Tbilisi, Tengiz Tsertsvadze, has called the low rate of the COVID vaccination in Georgia “an apocalypse and sabotage against the state by Georgian citizens”.
He said part of the Pfizer vaccine allotment now in Georgia may expire because of low demand in the country.
A total of 1,874,845 people have received a single vaccine dose (Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm) since March 2021. And 874,060 have been fully vaccinated – more than 23 percent of the country’s population.
Georgian health officials earlier in September warned the public that the next wave of the COVID will be “critically dangerous” for unvaccinated individuals above the age of 60. The Deputy Minister of Health Tamar Gabunia said the mortality and hospitalisation rates are higher among individuals over 60, the least vaccinated group in the country.
A new surge in the COVID cases in September prompted officials to reintroduce some restrictive measures.
Schools, universities opened on October 4, while concerts, theatre performances and sports events have been resumed.
The National Centre for Disease Control said it was seeking a vaccination rate of at least 60 percent to halt the spread of the virus.
Georgia opened its land borders on June 1 and foreigners can now enter the country by air or by surface transport. Fully vaccinated travellers are allowed entry, those with partial vaccinations must produce a PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. Additional restrictions are placed on those travelling from India.
Authorities plan to introduce the vaccination documents for all citizens – to be used for travel or in an emergency.
- 977,027 cases
- 16,346 deaths
COVID cases and deaths continue to be in decline in Kazakhstan since the peak in July and August.
A total of 6.67 million people have been fully vaccinated, which amounts to 35 percent of the total population. The Minister of Healthcare, Alexei Tsoy, has also announced that nearly 76% of the eligible population have already received the first dose of the vaccine.
Kazakhstan will introduce mandatory vaccinations or weekly testing for people working in groups of more than 20. Kazakhstan may also expand the list of people able to get the Pfizer vaccine, currently it is only reserved for children aged 12-17 and pregnant women.
The vaccines currently in use are Sputnik V, domestically-produced QazVac rolled out recently, Sinopharm and Hayat-Vax. Negotiations with Pfizer continue and the government is aiming to secure doses of Pfizer vaccine in Q4 2021.
The cities of Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Pavlodar, Akmola, and North Kazakhstan regions are in the ‘red zone’
Further funding equivalent to $3.74 million has been approved from the budget for the construction of a plant for the production of the domestic vaccine.
Kazakhstan’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, received his first dose in June of the Sputnik V vaccine produced at the Kazakh plant in Karaganda and appealed to all citizens to observe regulations imposed by health authorities as part of efforts to speed up the vaccination programme and contain the COVID.
Officials announced an easing of restrictions earlier in September in the capital, Nur-Sultan
Public transport is now to be allowed to operate on Sundays. Religious services are permitted, but only outdoors and according to social distancing norms.
Officials say the obligatory mask regime will be lifted once vaccination rates hit 60 percent.
- 303,208 cases
- 6,954 deaths
Cases are on the rise in Moldova since August, exceeding 1,400 daily. A third of cases are in the capital, Chisinau, where additional wards are opened in hospitals for Covid patients. The Chisinau Mayor, Ion Ceban, said that “the situation in the capital remains worrisome”. and on October 11 he announced he would request the supplementation of the number of beds in the capital for the treatment of coronavirus patients.
National restrictions remain in place across Moldova until 31st October. These include bars, restaurants and entertainment venues being restricted to vaccinated or immunised people only.
Health Minister Alla Nemerenko said vaccinations would be made obligatory for certain officials, including those involved in serving large numbers of people.
Nemerenko also said schools in areas of high infection (“orange” and “red” zones) would switch to online classes.
Vaccination efforts are proceeding slowly, with only about 27 percent of the population fully vaccinated.
President Maia Sandu received the second dose of the Astra-Zeneza vaccine ahead of a resounding victory in a snap election by the pro-European party she used to lead. She urged Moldovans to proceed quickly with vaccinations in order to improve the situation with COVID.
Vaccinations are now open to any citizen aged 18 and over and a variety of vaccines are in use — Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Russia’s Sputnik-V and Chinese vaccines.
- 7.71 million cases
- 214,485 deaths
Cases and deaths are on the rise in Russia, with daily case counts exceeding 29,000 – the second highest number of daily infections since the beginning of the pandemic. A record number of 957 daily deaths has been reported on 9 October.
Moscow launched free express coronavirus tests at 20 locations across the city.
Amid rising cases, the head of Rospodrepnadzor, Anna Popova, announced that all mass gatherings and events have been cancelled. She stressed that there are no regions where gatherings of over 3,000 people are permitted.
Russian regions are further tightening their local restrictions on an individual basis. Most common are introductions of QR-codes to visit bars, restaurants, gyms and other public places.
President Vladimir Putin has now ended his self-isolation after several members of his staff tested positive.
But many Russians appear unconcerned, questioning the need to be vaccinated and failing to wear masks consistently.
An Argentine study published in The Lancet showed that the first dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is 78.6 percent effective against coronavirus infection, but the results might not apply to the Delta variant.
Vaccination hesitancy, a legacy of Soviet-era distrust of authority, remains high. A poll by the independent Levada Center in August showed that 55 percent of Russians do not plan on getting inoculated.
The Kremlin says there are no immediate plans to allow foreign coronavirus vaccines into Russia, despite the country’s sluggish vaccination rates and rising death toll.
Russia was the first to produce the COVID vaccine — Sputnik V — and the vaccine is readily available, but the country has failed to meet expected vaccination targets.
The isolated country claims no COVID-19 cases, though this statement is widely questioned. The U.K.’s envoy to Turkmenistan notably claimed he contacted the COVID in the country.
There were signs that coronavirus was spreading in the Central Asian country in 2020, including an outbreak at a women’s prison in Dashoguz, near the border with Uzbekistan, hospitals refused to diagnose patients with the disease and the government encouraged citizens to wear masks due to dangerous dust rather than to stop the spread of the virus.
Based on the number of deaths reported to the international media from inside the country, Turkmenistan has experienced three spikes in incidence. The first fell on the summer of 2020, the second – at the turn of 2020-2021, and the third began in the summer of 2021 and continues to this day. The authorities are taking certain sanitary and quarantine measures, but most of them are not reflected in the official media at all.
Оn September 21, prominent Turkmen rights groups and media outlets published an open letter to Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, expressing concern that Turkmenistan is denying the existence of COVID-19 in the country and that the WHO should appeal directly “to the government of Turkmenistan to fulfil their promise on the testing of samples from patients in Turkmenistan in independent laboratories.” Dr Kluge has not responded.
In January 2021 the Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona vaccines from Russia were registered in the country and in May of this year batches of the Chinese vaccine CoronaVac arrived. By June 2021 there were 18 vaccination points around the country and a spike of Covid cases in neighbouring Central Asian countries in July led Turkmenistan to make vaccination mandatory for all citizens above the age of eighteen. The President Berdymuhammedov claims that 70% of the population is already vaccinated.
Even before the pandemic, no country had a visa-free regime with Turkmenistan. Visas are rarely granted except for tourists on tightly controlled and expensive “official” tours.
Last July, a day after the death of a Turkish diplomat from the coronavirus in Turkmenistan, the country has required the wearing of masks, though it advises this is as a guard against frequent dust storms.
- 2.51 million cases
- 58,081 deaths
Daily case counts are on the rise and exceeded 12,000 multiple times.
Despite this, Health Minister Viktor Lyashko announced on September 30 that “all regions correspond to the yellow level”, meaning that no lockdown is in place, but local restrictions remain active. On October 7 the Ministry of Health approved the list of professions for which vaccination against COVID-19 is mandatory: central executive authorities, local state administrations, institutions of higher education and institutions of specialised education and scientific institutions.
The government earlier set down rules on introducing certificates for citizens “yellow” to be issued after the first vaccination, “green” when fully vaccinated. On October 11 the Verkhovna Rada proposes to let only those vaccinated or with a negative test for COVID-19 enter the building.
Regions would also be subject to different regulations. Under “yellow” regulations, schools can only operate in-person if 80 percent of the staff are vaccinated. The health minister said 40 percent of school staff in the country had a single dose and 30 percent were fully vaccinated.
Public transport will continue to operate under “yellow” regulations.
A poll showed that 56 percent of respondents had no intention of getting vaccinated. The lowest vaccination rates were among the elderly — 7.6 percent of residents over 80 had been vaccinated. The rate for ages 40 to 59 stood at about 20 percent. The Ministry of Health plans to vaccinate 70% of the adult population by the end of this year.
The Delta virus has been identified as the dominant variant in Ukraine.
Chinese Coronavac vaccines were being administered along with Pfizer from mid-April. Previously, authorities were relying on an Indian-produced variation of the AstraZeneca vaccination.
- 177,383 cases
- 1,263 deaths
Cases and deaths are declining in Uzbekistan, with approximately 427 cases and the average number of deaths decreased to 5.
The vaccination programme has stalled, however, with just 32.7 percent of the population fully vaccinated, despite a higher rate of first-dose vaccines, 9.8 million of which have already been administered.
In September, the United States provided Uzbekistan with a donation of 1.215 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as part of the COVAX project for less affluent countries. Under the programme, Uzbekistan had earlier received three million doses of the Moderna vaccine from the United States as well as about one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in multiple deliveries. It was announced on 11 October that Turkey is sending 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and 20,000 boxes of Favipiravir medicines (200mg / 40 tablets) to Uzbekistan.
Earlier, Uzbekistan lifted some restrictions to allow mass culture, sports and other events — both outdoors and indoors.
A commission to contain the COVID said the measures were introduced to “Create amenities for the population for cultural and spiritual leisure as well as recreation by reducing quarantine requirements”.
Service sector employees, including those at cultural and entertainment facilities, restaurants and wedding halls must have a certificate of vaccination.
Family events and weddings will also now be permitted, with a limit of 100 people and in strict compliance with sanitary requirements. But such events have been in place for some time with limited oversight.
Authorities registered an Uzbek-Chinese vaccine and a locally produced version of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. They said a local manufacturer intends to produce 10 million doses of the Sino-Uzbek vaccine. Uzbekistan announced last week that is has started producing the Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine domestically in a joint project with Russia. Uzbekistan also launched recently Uzbek-Chinese ZF-UZ-VAC2001 vaccine.
Vaccination was made mandatory in August for various categories of citizens — front-line workers. employees of retail stores, sports centres and recreational areas.
Authorities launched a campaign to gain the trust of people unwilling to be vaccinated.
The director of the Uzbek Virology Research Institute, Erkin Musabaev, told local media last month that the Delta variant was responsible for new rises in COVID numbers. Vaccination was effective, but numbers remained low as people lacked confidence in the Uzbek-Chinese vaccine
Vaccinations are now available to anyone 18 and over and authorities are offering incentives to improve low vaccination rates, including reduced tuition fees for students.