The central Asia struggling with a second wave of sars coronavirus

L’Asie centrale aux prises avec une deuxième vague de coronavirus

Bishkek | The phone does not stop ringing : in a call center Covid-19 in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, the volunteers are overwhelmed by a second wave of sars coronavirus strikes on several countries in central Asia.

“When we opened in early April, many calls were not reporting medical. But, today, they encompass virtually all of the symptoms of the virus,” said Askhat Adbykerimov, the coordinator of the center, questioned by the AFP.

According to the kyrgyz government, the calls have been multiplied by thirteen in June. Now, this “hot line” hosted by a sixty caregivers and students shall receive a minimum of 3 000 per week.

The city of Bishkek has become a new epicenter of the epidemic in central Asia, brought to life by the sagging of the containment measures in may in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

On Tuesday, the number of active cases in Kyrgyzstan exceeded the 5 000, which is ten times more than before the lifting of the confinement on the 25th of may. While the authorities state officially 99 deaths linked to the virus, local social networking are filled with condolences and calls for help in the face of the saturation of the hospitals, suggesting that a balance sheet is much heavier.

The absence or the poor quality of testing Covid-19 may well conceal the real extent of the epidemic and the number of the dead.

Aigoul Sarykbaïeva, 54 years of age, patient to receive medicines in the main gym covered in Bishkek, converted into a hospital. It has not yet been tested for the coronavirus.

But after struggled to have an x-ray of the lungs, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. “Sometimes I wonder if I still know one person who did not fall ill”, she says.

“Celebrate what?”

Hospitals in Kazakhstan, the richest of the five ex-soviet republics of central Asia, are also saturated, so that the number of cases has been multiplied by four since the beginning of June.

The Kazakh authorities, which saw a decline of stocks of available drugs, identified Tuesday over 49 000 cases and 264 deaths. Last week, they have had to re-introduce containment measures.

In Almaty, the economic capital, Evguéni Ieremine patient in a long queue to buy medicines such as paracetamol.

It was believed that the coronavirus was a “joke” or “a political history” before his grandfather did die, and his mother fell seriously ill with symptoms of the Covid-19.

On social networks, critics were showering after the election Monday of a huge fireworks display at Nur-Sultan, the capital of kazakhstan, to celebrate the 80th birthday of the historic leader of the country, Nursultan Nazarbayev, himself diagnosed as positive to the virus but asymptomatic.

“A fireworks display to celebrate what?” launched Dimach Koudaïbergen, a famous singer and local, also very popular in China.

“The people are not able to find the oxygen bottles and during this time they are organising a firework”, he added on his page Instagram, followed by more than 3.3 million people.


In Kyrgyzstan, a poor country, mountainous, the authorities are particularly needy. Rather than strengthening the health care system, the government has admitted that the aid received from international institutions allowed especially to pay the salaries of civil servants and to fill budget deficits caused by the epidemic.

Nevertheless, call centre, Bishkek, closed briefly in June after contamination of two employees, external assistance has been useful. A sign of its importance, several voices have called to further extend its field of action, so that it had at the beginning that 12 volunteers.

Shamil Ibraguimov, the director of the branch of the kyrgyz republic Soros Foundation, which has supported the project, points out, however, that such a measure would have only a limited impact because the centre is not going to “create new ambulances or hospital beds”.

“Everywhere you look, there are deficiencies in the whole system (medical)”, he complained.

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