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Number of COVID-19 infected people reached 23 in the occupied Tskhinvali region


Lado Bitchashvili, Shida Kartli

Tskhinvali de-facto government confirmed first 3 cases of the COVID-19 infection in South Ossetia on May 6. The first infected person was 14-years-old student of the military school, who had arrived from the Russian Federation. Because of the current situation, the de-facto government decided to close the border with Russia from May 10 to May 17. The de-facto president of the occupied Tskhinvali region Anatoli Bibilov called on the population to stay calm.

“For the past two months we did our best to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 but as you see it happened. The person, who is confirmed with the COVID-19, was traveling around Tskhinvali and we do not know how many people he contacted with. We recommend to everybody to use all available resources to timely prevent the spread of the virus,” Bibilov said. 

By May 7, the number of the COVID-19 infected people in the occupied Tskhinvali region increased up to 11. The State Minister of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili once again addressed the residents of the occupied territories and expressed readiness to assist them. 

“Information about infected people in Tskhinvali region is reported and it was expected. Unfortunately, everybody is aware that the healthcare system does not work properly in the region and they cannot provide the population with adequate service. I wish our citizens to recover fast. And I would like to once again declare our readiness to assist our population, including the COVID-19 infected people on the place, though as you know the access is restricted. We cooperate with the Red Cross International Organization, which is the only institution, which has access to the occupied region and now works to provide the residents of the most vulnerable people in Akhalgori district and the rest of the Tskhinvali region with the humanitarian aid. Besides that, additional restrictions, which were announced with regard to the Roki Tunnel, will leave the population in full isolation. Another alarming information refers to the ongoing military parade which is being organized in the region and which not only demonstrates unlawful power, but also creates serious threat of the spread of infection. I want to urge the population to follow the recommendations and to avoid the places of public gathering in such a difficult situation. They should take care of their and others’ health,” Ketevan Tsikhelashvili said. 

The de-facto government of Tskhinvali did not respond to this offer of the central authority of Georgia; however, the so-called state TV-company of Tskhinvali region IRI dedicated a long TV-story to the allegation that the novel coronavirus was spread in Tskhinvali from the Tbilisi based Lugar Laboratory. It is not first time that Kremlin propagandist TV Companies disseminate disinformation about the Lugar Laboratory, however the TV-company controlled by the Tskhinvali de-facto government released the video story to forward the attention of the local population to another issue, when they have 11 infected people in the region and the healthcare system is not ready to cope with the novel coronavirus.

Civil activist Tamar Mearakishvili, who lives in the occupied Akhalgori district, said that the healthcare system of Akhalgori and Tskhinvali districts will not be able to cope with the COVID-19. 

“Nothing is changed here and will not be changed because the members of our medical personnel are not good professionals; moreover they are not interested to learn more about the new virus. Not only Akhalgori district, but Tskhinvali is not properly equipped either. It is impossible to take medical treatment; nobody should hope about recovery,” Tamar Mearakishvili said, who suggests the central authority of Georgia to take effective measures instead making statements. 

“The State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Integrity used to say that they had the better connections in Tskhinvali than previous ministers under the Georgian Dream government but now she states that they do not know whom to talk in Tskhinvali. Of course, Bibilov will reject public proposals and offers of the Georgian authority; he cannot accept them. I many times urged the Georgian government, when the crossing points were still open, to provide the region with medical masks and disinfection substances but there was no response. The local population has been in isolation for nine months and our right to movement is restricted; they could take some effective steps besides public statements. With the support of the Red Cross they could send food or other items. But instead they are stating that Bibilov refused; why are you the central government and why do you have other leverages then? They should not wait for Bibilov. They should not pay attention to Bibilov but I do not see that the GoG wishes to act in fact,” Tamar Mearakishvili said.

On May 9, Tskhinvali celebrated the 75th anniversary of the victory in the World War II with the parade. The de-facto president decorated the grave of the deceased in the WWII with wreath. By May 11, 23 people were confirmed with the virus, among them 15 are students of the military school. 193 more people are under the control of the doctors in the quarantine. 

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