Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Turkmenistan tightens nationwide restrictions July 16 to prevent spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

  • Alert Begins: 17 Jul 2020 10:19 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Movement restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Period: Indefinite
  • Impact: Heightened security, transport and business disruptions; possible health screenings, shipping delays

Summary
Authorities tightened measures introduced to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) July 16. Interregional bus and rail services have been suspended until at least July 23. Houses of worship, outdoor markets, and shopping centers have been closed nationwide, while restaurants and cafes have been closed in Ashgabat. As of July 13, it is mandatory to maintain a social distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) and wear a facemask in public.

Nationwide travel restrictions are in effect despite government claims that there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Turkmenistan. All commercial flights to and from the country are suspended, and the land borders with Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan remain closed indefinitely. The Turkmenbashi Internationa Seaport is also closed to passenger traffic.

Security forces have erected checkpoints on roads entering Ashgabat; only freight and goods vehicles with permits are permitted to pass. All national, intercity, and regional highways are closed to all persons except special permit holders and emergency services. Security force checkpoints have also been reported on highways in Balkan, Mary, Lebap, and Dashoguz provinces. Individuals are not permitted to leave their districts of residence without a permit.

Authorities could impose further restrictions based on disease activity in the country.

Background and Analysis
Turkmenistan's preventative restrictions largely correspond with similar actions other governments are taking globally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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