Coronavirus-free Turkmenistan: 'We are not hiding anything'

FM Meredov insists his country does not have COVID-19 cases, days after country reboots its domestic football season.

    Turkmenistan has reopened most of its border crossing points and is preparing to reopen the remaining ones [Alexander Vershinin/AP]
    Turkmenistan has reopened most of its border crossing points and is preparing to reopen the remaining ones [Alexander Vershinin/AP]

    Turkmenistan, one of the few nations in the world that has reported no cases of the new coronavirus, has insisted its official data is true and it is not hiding anything.

    "If there was a single confirmed coronavirus case, we would have immediately informed ... the World Health Organization in line with our obligations," Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov told a briefing on Wednesday.

    "We are not hiding anything," he added, speaking alongside United Nations officials.

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    At the same briefing, health minister Nurmuhammed Amannepesov said the country had 30,000 test kits at its disposal and was ordering another 40,000 from Russia, Turkey and Germany.

    He said 151 people remained in quarantine zones, most of them Turkmen citizens working as long-haul truck drivers and ship crew.

    Turkmenistan has reopened most of its border crossing points and was preparing to reopen the remaining ones on the Iranian border, he said, after suspending all freight traffic at the end of last month. 

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    Football season returns

    Turkmenistan also rebooted its domestic football season on Sunday, with fans returning to stadiums despite the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Central Asian state previously followed other countries around the world when it suspended its eight-team league in March just three games into the season.

    The national football federation then cited for the decision recommendations by the health ministry and the WHO for preventing the spread of the illness.

    According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), officials avoid discussing the coronavirus as much as possible in order to deter the spread of information about the pandemic.

    “By doing so, Turkmenistan’s government is putting its citizens in danger,” RSF said in a report last month.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies