Central Asia’s Diverse COVID-19 Responses
Having recognized the COVID-19 threat early on, some of Central Asia’s governments were slow to prepare for the coronavirus’s eventual arrival. And with the pandemic’s biggest, mainly economic challenges still to come to the region, the real problems may lie ahead.
BISHKEK – COVID-19’s impact on my country, Kyrgyzstan, first hit home for me on March 19, when my son arrived at Bishkek’s international airport from a “highly infected” European country. I was unable to see him because, along with several dozen others who arrived on the flight with him, he was immediately subjected to a 14-day quarantine at a former American military base that the United States donated to the country in 2014.
But it was a quarantine in name only. The former base was chaotic and disorganized. Instead of being strictly isolated from one another, arriving passengers were confined to a completely unprepared and tightly fenced area, where they moved and interacted freely.
Moreover, hygiene was practically non-existent, with few toilets, washbasins, or showers for more than a hundred people. So, this attempt to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country was in fact creating ideal conditions for infection to spread among new arrivals.