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Coronavirus live updates | Georgian health officials call on the public to worship from home

6 April 2020
‘Social distancing’ measures during Communion on 29 March in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

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06 Apr 2020, 20:07

That’s it for today, join us again tomorrow for more Coronavirus live updates.

06 Apr 2020, 19:37

Georgian Airways ‘to fly holy fire from Israel’

Georgian Airways is set to transport ‘holy fire’ from Israel to Georgia on Easter, company director Roman Bokeria has told RFE/RL.

According to Orthodox beliefs, the fire lights spontaneously every easter in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Bokeria said he was summoned to the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church on Monday and was given an icon, which will travel onboard together with Georgian passengers the company is bringing back to the country.

Photo: Georgian Airways.

‘Today, basically it’s a miraculous day. The patriarch of Georgia has gifted an icon to Georgian Airways. The patriarch was himself gifted this icon in 2013. It was in his office. These are guardian angels.’ 

‘Today, the patriarch blessed this icon in the name of Georgian Airways in order for prayers to be transmitted to the members of our aircrew and most importantly, to the people which we will bring back’, Bokeria said. 

Georgia has grounded all flights in and out of the country except for repatriations of Georgian citizens operated by Georgian Airways. 

Georgia banned entry to all foreign citizens on 16 March.

06 Apr 2020, 19:25

Almost 150 people have COVID-19 related pneumonia in Armenia

Armenia’s Health Ministry has announced that 146 of the 833 confirmed cases in the country have pneumonia, 35 are in critical condition (not in intensive care but require oxygen), and 8 are in extremly critical condition.

To date, the country has a reserve of 1,400 beds for COVID-19 patients, half of which are in use. 

Those testing positive with no symptoms or minor complaints are staying in hotels designated by the state under medical supervision. 

There are 1,500 quarantined people and over 5,000 are in mandatory self-quarantine.

06 Apr 2020, 19:08

Georgia’s homeless ‘at high risk’ from COVID-19

Homeless people in Georgia are at high risk of catching the coronavirus, Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria has warned.

In a statement on Monday, Lomjaria called on the authorities to make efforts to identify homeless people who are unable to comply with restrictions of the state of emergency.

A woman sleeps inside a Bank of Georgia ATM area on 31 March. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Those caught violating the curfew face fines of ₾3,000 ($950) or up to three years in prison for repeat offenders.

It is not clear how the authorities are dealing with homeless people caught outside during curfew hours. The Interior Ministry did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the matter.

Read the full story: Georgia’s homeless ‘at high risk’ during COVID-19.

06 Apr 2020, 18:46

Armenian police have fined over 1,700 people 

Armenia’s Police has announced they have fined 1,735 people for violating restrictions on freedom of movement. 

The police said they had pulled over 2,858 cars for having more than two people inside (excluding children or people working in the same place).

The extra passengers were removed from the vehicles. 

The police also announced that six officers had been infected with the virus and 16 are in quarantine.

06 Apr 2020, 18:42

Eurasian Union exempts medical supplies from import duties

Armenia’s Ministry of Economy has announced that the Eurasian Economic Commission, the executive body of the Eurasian Economic Union, has exempted a number of pharmaceutical and medical supplies from import duties.

This decision applies to medical goods imported between 16 March and 30 September 2020.

The commission also put a temporary ban on exports of medical supplies outside the union until 30 September, and on certain food products until 30 June. 

The restrictions do not apply to exports between member states.

06 Apr 2020, 17:42

Fund for medical workers established in North Ossetia

The head of North Ossetia, Vyacheslav Bitarov, has met with a group of MPs from the republic’s parliament in order to establish a fund to assist medical workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The MPs were all businesspeople from United Russia, the party of President Putin.

The initial contributions to the fund amounted to ₽10 million ($130,000).

06 Apr 2020, 17:36

Georgia to vaccinate over 60s against pneumonia

The Georgian Health Ministry is launching a pneumococcal vaccination programme for people over 60. The vaccines help prevent illness caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, including pneumonia.

The decision was announced by Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze on Monday. 

‘We received recommendations after consulting with our European colleagues’, she told Rustavi 2

‘This is a widely spread accepted practice in European countries when citizens over 60 and vulnerable groups get vaccinated against pneumoniae.’

06 Apr 2020, 17:30

Distance learning begins in Kabardino-Balkaria

From 6 April to 30 April, distance learning classes will take place in all educational institutions in Kabardino-Balkaria, the Ministry of Education, Science and Youth Affairs of the region reports.

While Kindergartens in the republic have closed, classes will be provided to care for children whose parents are still at work.

All employees of state and municipal educational institutions will continue to be paid during this period.

Phone numbers to arrange remote classes are listed on the ministry’s website.

06 Apr 2020, 15:25

First cases registered in Nakhchivan

The Health Ministry of Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic has announced that 18 people in the exclave have tested positive for COVID-19. 

There were no officially confirmed cases in Nakhchivan until today,  although, according to the ministry, one person in the region has already recovered.

According to them, the 17 others are in specially designated hospitals.

The ministry said there are currently 2,896 people in quarantine in the region, 536 of which came to Nakhchivan from other regions of the country.

06 Apr 2020, 15:14

Streets disinfected in Stavropol Krai

The Ministry of Housing and Communal Services of the of Stavropol Krai has announced streets in 13 municipalities will be disinfected.

Photo: Ministry of Housing and Communal Services of Stavropol Krai.

According to a decree from the governor of the region, ₽12 million ($157,000) will be allocated from the regional budget for this.

06 Apr 2020, 15:00

Georgian health officials call on the public to worship from home 

Paata Imnadze, the deputy head of Georgia’s National Centre for Disease Control, has called on the public not to go to church and to pray from home instead. 

This is the most explicit warning to churchgoers so far, as previous statements from officials concerning the Church have remained vague.

‘I would call to address faithful Christians, I want to address churchgoers to protect our mother church, to protect our clergy by not going to church and praying from home.’ 

‘[We should] protect them from not only this virus, but also from other viruses. Let’s protect our church, do not go to church, pray at home. The doors of the church cannot be closed. There will be priests, who will pray for us. We should pray at home for each other and for our country’, said Imnadze.

A priest gives Communion to a young girl at the Sameba Trinity Cathedral on 29 March. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

The Church has so far rejected calls to bar churchgoers from attending religious rituals. 

On 19 April, the Georgian Orthodox Church celebrates Easter. 

Another controversial subject involves the Church’s use of a single shared spoon to give Communion.

In a statement on 29 February, the Church objected to advice from health officials that they use disposable spoons to try to minimise the spread of the coronavirus.

06 Apr 2020, 12:54

Georgia to manage mild cases at home

Georgian PM Giorgi Gakharia has said the country should be ready to manage patients with only mild symptoms of the coronavirus at home.

‘Our main goal is to gradually be ready to manage mild cases at home as well as [increase] the efficiency of “fever clinics” ’, said Gakharia. 

As of 6 April, there are 188 coronavirus cases identified in Georgia; 36 of them have already recovered. Health officials have quarantined 5,056 people and 386 are under observation. 

06 Apr 2020, 12:52

Eight cases in North Ossetia

There are now 8 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in North Ossetia, the republic’s Ministry of Health of the Republic reports.

In total, 700 people remain under medical supervision and 822 people are self-isolating.

06 Apr 2020, 11:51

Nine more cases confirmed in Stavropol Krai

Nine more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Stavropol Krai, Governor Vladimir Vladimirov has announced on Instagram.

The total number of cases in the region has now reached 20 people. According to the governor, the condition of all patients is stable. ⠀

Five patients have already recovered.

06 Apr 2020, 11:33

Azerbaijan fines over 1,300 drivers for quarantine violation

The Main Traffic Police Department announced on Monday that over the previous day, 1,369 drivers were fined for violating the special quarantine regime.

06 Apr 2020, 11:14

The first three cases confirmed in Karachay-Cherkessia

The first three cases of the novel coronavirus have been officially confirmed in Karachay-Cherkessia, the head of the republic, Rashid Temrezov, said in a video message on Instagram on Sunday evening.

He said that all three patients are asymptomatic and that they are in isolation at home under the supervision of doctors. He said that everyone who came into contact with them had been identified and tested, and that the results had come back negative so far.

Temrezov also said that on Saturday he signed a decree extending self-isolation and high alert regulations in the republic.

A United Information Center operates around the clock in the Karachay-Cherkessia and can be contacted by phone: 8-800-201-26-70. 

People arriving from other regions must report their arrival and contact details.

06 Apr 2020, 09:30


Welcome to OC Media’s coronavirus live updates for Monday, 6 April. We will be bringing you the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic from around the Caucasus.

The biggest developments from yesterday:

In Georgia, the second COVID-19 patient has died, health officials reported on Sunday. 

The deceased was an 81-year-old woman, who had suffered from a number of other conditions including Myocardial infarction, heart failure, and arterial hypertension.

Meanwhile, in Sachkhere, western Georgia, up to 100 medical workers were isolated after a doctor was discovered to have been infected with the novel coronavirus. 

Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosyan has announced that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country doubles every week, a trend that he said state authorities had calculated on 31 March.

If the trend continues, by 7 April, Armenia may have as many as 1000 confirmed cases, and 2000 confirmed cases by 15 April. 

Ingushetia protestors Musa Malsagov, Barakh Chemurziyev, Ismail Nalgiyev, Akhmed Barakhoyev and Malsag Uzhakhov have had their pre-trial detention extended by the Stavropol Krai Court until 25 June, the Russian human rights group Memorial reported.

The men were arrested over allegedly inciting violence during last year’s protests in Magas, Ingushetia, against a land transfer deal that transferred 9% of Ingushetia’s territory to neighbouring Chechnya. 

[Read more on OC Media: One year since Ingushetia’s protests]

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Read more from yesterday as well as the latest stories: