Turkmenistan cancels events because of "dust in the air" and "fashion reasons", still claims to be coronavirus-free

By bne IntelliNews July 9, 2020

Turkmen authorities have cancelled this year’s TM Fashion show, scheduled for July 11, “for fashion reasons,” according to authorities in that country, Hronikatm reported on July 9.

Turkmenistan like the rest of the region is suffering from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), initially from citizens re-entering from Iran back in March. The country set up several quarantine tents as witnessed from the Iranian side of the border but has so far failed to admit it is suffering more than a handful of imported coronavirus cases. The situation has so deteriorated in recent days that Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov reluctantly has allowed the World Health Organisation (WHO) to visit after stalling in an attempt to offset any further negative press.

The government said events in the country were cancelled “due to increased amounts of dust in the air,” and not due to the coronavirus, which it did not mention directly.

At the same time, according to the meteorological publication Meteojurnal, there is no significant air deterioration over Turkmenistan.

The country also announced it had cancelled the State Symphony Orchestra’s performance on July 12 for unspecified reasons.

Other sources in the country report that children’s sports lessons have also been cancelled in recent days, including football and tennis clubs being shut.

The WHO has been attempting to send a mission to Turkmenistan for over two months to investigate the Turkmen government’s claims that the country does not have a single coronavirus case. The delay was a result of travel restrictions imposed over the pandemic, according to Catherine Smallwood, the mission's leader.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has gone on holiday for the duration of the WHO’s visit, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reported.

Meanwhile, over the border in Iran, the number of people becoming infected by coronavirus continues to expand daily, with the country admitting to more than 200 people dying of the virus on July 8, the highest death toll in three months. 

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