Turkmenistan bans the word Coronavirus, wearing of masks, in a major censorship move – The Statesman

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 42,000 people worldwide according to Johns Hopkins University, but the figure may be far from reality as countries like Turkmenistan take drastic steps to suppress information about the spread of pandemic.

A recent report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reveals that the central Asian country has banned the word Coronavirus as the country continues to deny any information on the spread of virus.

According to Turkmenistan Chronicle, one of the few sources of independent news, the state-controlled media are no longer allowed to use the word and it has even been removed from health information brochures distributed in schools, hospitals and workplaces.

There is no data available on the number of coronavirus patients in the country. A correspondent of Chronicles of Turkmenistan reports from the infectious diseases hospital in Ashgabat that a lot of patients with respiratory infections have been admitted to the hospital but all of them are officially diagnosed with acute respiratory viral infection.

According to journalists based in the capital, Ashgabat, who report for Radio Azatlyk, the Turkmen language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, people wearing face masks or talking about the coronavirus on the street, at bus stops or in lines outside shops are liable to be arrested by plainclothes police.

The Turkmen authorities have lived up to their reputation by adopting this extreme method for eradicating all information about the coronavirus, said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSFs Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

However, a report by Turkmenistan Chronicle says, despite the official statements about no confirmed cases, large-scale prevention measures are underway in the country. In public places and bank officers people are provided with sanitizers to wipe their hands and are requested to use a mouth spray; at the train stations and at entry checkpoints in Ashgabat residents get their temperature taken; the municipal buses are disinfected with a chlorine solution. Even bus stops are washed with an unidentified sanitizer.

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Turkmenistan bans the word Coronavirus, wearing of masks, in a major censorship move - The Statesman

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