“Our country has the highest mortality rate. We are not withstanding this onslaught. We ask for your assistance.”
“Our country is facing the real threat of a humanitarian catastrophe.”
Above are actual quotes from requests addressed to the government of the Russian Federation, by representatives of certain Central Asian nations.
A few days back we talked about the fact that Central Asian nations wanted to push Russia away. Undertaking various policies to separate the two cultures and peoples as much as possible.
Today we have sort of the reverse story, as told here by reporter Evgeny Pogrebnyak. What changed? Well, Covid, of course.
When spring came, the Coronavirus pandemic hit Central Asia hard. Quarantines were implemented in these former Soviet Republics, and everything seemed to be under control, initially. And then came an unexpected, and unwelcome, growth in the numbers of the seriously ill, those requiring hospitalization. And this is what drove certain people to the breaking point.
In Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, things are more or less tolerable. Turkmenistan is suffering, though, despite the government’s strategy of Covid-Denial. (From what I understand, the authorities don’t deny that the virus exists. They just deny that there is any of it within their borders. Just like there are no gay people.)
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, on the other hand, are fairly open, transparent nations. Their governments have not denied nor concealed statistics on infections. Perhaps for this reason, they take the prize in most number of infections per capita.
The city of Bishkek (capital of Kyrgyzstan) has been hit hard. All the hospitals and observation rooms are packed to the gills, with overflows going to hastily built temporary stations. As soon as new admissions points are opened, people flock in. Doctors and medical staff are stressed out to the max. As if that isn’t bad enough, there is a shortage of medications. The few meds that remain, the pharmacies have jacked up the prices. And even at these jacked up prices, the bottles fly off the shelves the moment the door is opened! Thousands of patients suffering from Covid-induced pneumonia are resting in their own homes and engaging in self-treatment with these now-scarce medicines.
The hospitals are experiencing a shortage of everything: Not just medications, but even bandages. The doctors are not too proud to accept donations from volunteers. [yalensis: reading this, it reminds me of a lot of the stuff that was happening in American hospitals back in February and March].
The shortage of medications set an alarm at the highest levels of the government. Kirghiz Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov took creative measures to address this: After flying to Minsk on the Kirghiz equivalent of Air Force #1 (to participate in an international conference), he loaded up his plane with 5.4 tons of medicines for the return trip. (The Belorussians, being very nice people, had donated these to him.) The medicines were then offered to Kirghiz patients at reasonable prices.
Quick sidebar on Boronov bio: Born in 1964. Served in Soviet army 1983-85. Was a student at the Frunze Polytechnic Institute in Bishkek 1985-91. After that a series of construction/engineering type jobs in the 1990’s. Eventually got into government work, as a technical specialist and eventually came to be an expert in handling of emergencies. By 2010 had worked his way up to Director of Emergency Planning for the government. And in 2020 became Prime Minister. With that CV one might have expected him to be a tad more prepared for the pandemic crisis, especially with a couple of months to watch what happens in other countries earlier hit. Still, it’s easy to be a Monday-morning quarterback; and his stunt with the airplane sounds like he’s the kind of guy who will do anything to fix a problem, once identified.
Next: In the Russian Civilizational Space, the persistent confusion between Pneumonia and Coronavirus…
[to be continued]