The global death toll from the coronavirus stands at more than 87,000 with more than 1.4 million confirmed infections, causing massive disruption as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory disease.
Here is an overview of COVID-19 developments in the regions where RFE / RL is spread.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called on ministers and regional leaders to prepare for the fight against the coronavirus as he described measures taken to tackle the epidemic.
âAt this time, we must prepare to fight for the life of every individual in every region,â Putin said during a video conference from his residence outside Moscow on April 8, during which he spoke. describes the measures implemented to counter the growing epidemic in the country. .
Russia has more than 8,670 officially confirmed coronavirus infections and at least 63 deaths.
However, critics questioned the veracity of the numbers, saying the real toll could be much higher.
Among the measures announced by Putin in his speech were the additional remuneration of medical personnel and the release of 10 billion rubles (3 million) from the federal budget to be distributed among the more than 80 administrative regions of the country.
Additionally, he said medical staff who have direct contact with coronavirus patients will be online for an additional premium.
Addressing the economy, Putin said there was “virtually nothing like a complete shutdown of business,” despite the obstacles and restrictions encountered.
âWe need to realize the kind of damage and destructive consequences that this can cause,â he said.
Putin also told the nation that he realized it was difficult to “stay within four walls all the time.”
âBut there is no choice,â he said. “You have to survive self-isolation,” he told heads of Russian regions, which are for the most part strictly closed.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide Tehran with a multibillion-dollar emergency loan he had requested to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The epidemic has further damaged Iran’s economy, already hit by US sanctions that were reimposed after Washington in 2018 withdrew from a landmark deal between Tehran and world powers to curb the country’s nuclear program.
Tehran, along with several countries, the United Nations, some US lawmakers and human rights groups have urged the United States to ease sanctions to help Iran respond more effectively to the virus.
The epidemic has officially infected more than 62,500 people and killed more than 3,800 people in the country. Iranian officials have been criticized for their initial slow response to the pandemic, and experts are skeptical on the veracity of the official figures published by the authorities, who closely monitor the media.
âWe are a member of the IMFâ¦. There should be no discrimination in granting loans, âRouhani said at a televised cabinet meeting on April 8.
“If they don’t do their homework in this difficult situation, the world will judge them in a different way,” he added.
Last month, the Central Bank of Iran asked the IMF for $ 1 billion from its rapid finance initiative to help tackle the pandemic in one of the hardest-hit countries in the world.
An IMF official reportedly said the Washington-based lender was in dialogue with Iranian officials about the request.
Iran has not received IMF aid since a âstand-by creditâ issued between 1960 and 1962, according to fund data.
US President Donald Trump offered humanitarian aid, but Iranian officials rejected the offer, saying Washington should instead lift the sanctions, which Rouhani on April 8 likened to “economic and medical terrorism.”
Drugs and medical equipment are technically exempt from U.S. sanctions, but purchases are frequently blocked by banks’ reluctance to process transactions for fear of incurring heavy penalties in the United States.
In one of the few cases of aid, Britain, France and Germany first used a special trade mechanism on March 31 to send medical supplies to Iran in a way that did not not violate the sanctions.
The three countries have sent supplies through Instex, the mechanism put in place over a year ago to enable legitimate humanitarian trade with Iran.
On April 7, Iran’s parliament met for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak forced it to shut down and rejected an emergency bill calling for a one-month nationwide lockdown.
More than two-thirds of the 290 members of the legislature gathered in the absence of President Ali Larijani, who tested positive for the virus last week.
During the session, Vice President Massud Pezeshkian criticized the Rouhani administration for “not taking the epidemic seriously”.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 7 sentenced the detention of journalist and workers’ rights defender Amir Chamani in the northwestern town of Tabriz after posting tweets about the sanitary situation in Iranian prisons and the protests by detainees.
The Paris-based media freedom watchdog quoted Chamani’s family as saying he was arrested on April 2 after being summoned by cyber police.
The authorities gave no reason for the arrest of Chamani, who was transferred to a detention center run by the intelligence service of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to RSF.
Romania has confirmed 344 more cases of COVID-19 to reach 4,761, with 18 more deaths bringing the toll to 215, the country’s coronavirus task force said on April 7, amid renewed calls to a sustained increase in the number of tests.
More than 700 of those infected are healthcare workers.
The first death among medical staff was reported on April 8 – a paramedic from the northeastern town of Suceava, who reportedly continued to work without being tested for days, although his health was rapidly deteriorating.
Suceava is the epicenter of the epidemic in Romania and has been in containment since last week.
The first coronavirus death was recorded in Romania on March 22.
An additional 631 Romanians have tested positive for COVID-19 abroad, most of them – 412 – in Italy, the hardest-hit country in the world. Some 37 Romanians have died so far in Italy, Britain, France, Spain and Germany.
The country has been in a state of emergency since March 16 and President Klaus Iohannis announced on April 6 his intention to extend it by one month, while the government decided to postpone local elections which should have been held at the start. of summer.
The death of Suceava’s paramedic adds to concerns about how the Romanian system is coping with the outbreak. Doctors and nurses have spoken out in recent weeks on insufficient equipment for those treating COVID-19 cases, and many medical staff have resigned due to shortages as well as mismanagement and failure. tired.
Romanian online activism platform DeClic has launched an internet campaign urging authorities to speed up testing under the slogan “Mr. [Prime Minister Ludovic] Orban, don’t play with our lives.
Romania, a country of 19.5 million people, has tested 47,207 people for the coronavirus. By comparison, another EU member, the Czech Republic, has tested nearly 99,000 people out of a total of 10.5 million. The Czech death toll stands at 99, less than half that of Romania.
With reports from the Romanian service of RFE / RL, digi24.ro, g4.ro, Reuters and hotnews.ro
A former senior official of the Independent Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Akhmed Zakayev, has been hospitalized in London with symptoms of coronavirus.
Zakayev’s relatives told RFE / RL that the former exiled member of the Chechen separatist government was hospitalized on April 6 after experiencing difficulty breathing.
Relatives added that three days before his hospitalization, other family members were also showing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever and cough.
Medical authorities asked Zakayev’s relatives to sign a consent document to use artificial respiration during his treatment.
Zakayev, 60, was Minister of Culture, Deputy Prime Minister, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the breakaway government of Chechnya.
He and members of his immediate family have lived in exile in London since 2002.
He is wanted in Russia for suspected terrorism, which he and his supporters deny.