By Esfandiar Adineh
Dozens of MPs and state officials and their close family members in Tajikistan have tested positive for coronavirus infection, local sources said.
At least three MPs are put under intensive care, another five have mild symptoms. The number of infected officials is not yet clear, but local sources say they ‘are many’.
Most of them are believed to be passengers of a chartered flight arriving in Dushanbe from Munich on 9 April.
The security officials ordered the staff of the health ministry and other government agencies not to reveal the identity of the infected MPs, but at least one of them, leader of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan, Saidjafar Usmanzadeh, confirmed his infection in an interview to local news agency Asia-Plus.
This news comes two days after Tajik authorities for the first time admitted 15 cases of coronavirus infection in the country. Today, the health ministry said the number already increased to more than 75 cases, with at least two deaths.
Meanwhile, the staff of the government ministries and agencies of Tajikistan launched an awareness campaign called “Door to door, home to home” by walking in Dushanbe neighborhoods to inform people of the danger of the coronavirus to keep their hygiene.
The campaign carried out by the order of President Rahman’s daughter, Azadeh Rahman, who is the head of the presidential administration of Tajikistan, has sparked widespread criticism in the Tajik segment of the social media networks, such as Facebook.
Many local residents confirmed their coming homes, but some also said the police were asking the families whether they had people with coronavirus infection.
the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan, led by the President himself, also published a number of photos on its Facebook page to show its members were walking to neighborhoods to speak to people as part of a similar/or the same campaign.
Yesterday, the party’s activists reported that they collected various goods and distributed among those medical staff “who are our members”, apparently ignoring the rest in the politically discriminative campaign.
Yesterday, the authoritarian leader of one of the poorest Central Asian countries, Emamali Rahman, announced that he would donate one month of his salary to support the fight against Covid-19 in the country, but he did not mention the amount of his salary, a mystery for all.
He also ordered the Finance Minister to allocate more 12.4 mln Samanis (USD 1.2) to pay the medical staff directly involved in the fight against coronavirus an extra salary for three months.
Critics said this is rather a propaganda campaign and does not help the country’s medical personnel at all, who are at serious risk, mainly due to poor infrastructure and widespread corruption.