This is the first such case since the establishment on February 27 of the government Operational Headquarters to combat the February 27 pandemic. In the past, housing could be left for 2 hours by notifying the police via SMS. According to the headquarters, as of June 6, 379 new cases of coronavirus infection were registered. This is the highest record number of infected. In total, 7,239 people were infected in the country. Of these, 4,024 recovered, 84 died, 3,131 continued treatment in special treatment hospitals. The health of 72 patients is severe, 86 - moderate, the rest - stable.

What could have caused the outbreak of the pandemic and the growth of the disease curve at the time when the peak of the disease was passed?

Azerbaijan was among the countries with the lowest pandemic rates until May 3, with daily rates of no more than 40 infected, a low death rate and a high cured result. However, in the following days, the growth of infected people became noticeable. On 4 May 52 people were infected, on 12 May - 100 people were   infected, and then the curve went higher and higher.

It is not entirely clear that this increase in disease is caused by inconsistent government actions or other causes and circumstances. May be both these reasons?

Inconsistent actions of the government

The measures taken by the government were belated, inconsistent and controversial. In the second half of January, the media signaled the danger of coronavirus.

 On January 16, in connection with the outbreak of pneumonia in China from the new coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health of Azerbaijan published recommendations on foreign travel and trade.

On January 24, the Foreign Ministry issued an alarm signal, calling for caution when visiting China.

On January 28, Minister of Health Ogtay Shiraliev signed an order “On strengthening preventive measures against the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

On January 28, a meeting on measures against the epidemic of coronavirus was held in the Cabinet of Ministers.

 It was decided to take measures to prevent the entry of coronavirus into the country:

- Transition to heavy duty at border crossing points;

- Mandatory physical examination of all persons coming from China and taking them under control;

- preparing a high-risk food list through which the virus can spread and tightening control in food markets;

- Creation of a “hot line” in medical facilities;

- conducting educational work and regularly informing the public about the situation.

In the second half of February, the first information about the coronavirus pandemic in Iran and the first victims appeared.

On February 23, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan recommends that Azerbaijani citizens exercise maximum caution when visiting Iran, taking into account the spread of the coronavirus in this country.

By that time, the border remained open, brisk cross-border trade were underway, shuttles were  moving across the border as usual, while Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and other countries were closing the border with Iran.

On February 24, the Cabinet of Ministers did not prohibit, but only called on citizens not to travel to Iran.

On February 26, Georgia closes the border with Azerbaijan. This decision was made after a Georgian citizen who visited Iran became infected with the coronavirus. He returned to Georgia through Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani Ministry of Health justifies itself: A citizen of Georgia did not show any symptoms of coronavirus upon entering Azerbaijan.

Only on February 27, in order to prevent the risks associated with coronavirus, to carry out operational preventive measures, a headquarters is created under the Cabinet of Ministers with the participation of the heads of relevant state bodies.

“The sanitary and epidemiological situation in Azerbaijan is under serious control, at the moment there are no cases of infection among the population, there are no reasons for concern,” the government’s message said at that time, which, unlike the media, still did not realize the depth of the problem.

However, on February 29, the government finally closes the border with Iran. In the south, the first quarantine center is being created in the Jalilabad region, where citizens arriving from Iran are suspected of having a coronavirus.

The very first reports from the places of ill-treatment and conditions of detention spoke of the lack of readiness of the government, which a month ago claimed that the situation was under control.

At this time, information appears about the first infected citizens who arrived from Iran. Thus, we can state that the origins of the epidemic began from the southern borders. It was no coincidence in the conditions of declarative statements and slowness in taking decisive measures by the government. The country has a large shortage of hygiene masks and medical disinfectants. Educational work is not carried out. Life flows its key.

On March 2, the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan allocated 10 million manats for the purchase of medicines and medicines to combat coronavirus.

From March 3 to 9, inclusively kindergartens, schools and universities are closing.

The mere adoption of such a decision for a week indicates that the government did not understand what it was dealing with.

The plane is still flying, and their safety is limited to disinfection.

On March 4, President Ilham Aliyev first spoke on the topic of coronavirus. The probability of the spread of coronavirus in Azerbaijan is not so high, he said.

He continues to communicate with the citizens of the country without any precautionary measures, which is presented by state television as heroism - the president, in spite of everything, with his people.

Mass festivities on Novruz Bayram are canceled, a ban on mass entertainment events has been introduced, and classes in educational institutions are extended until March 27. The government still hopes for a chance.

On March 11, the Azerbaijani Embassy in Rome called on Azerbaijani citizens in Rome to abide by the rules and recommendations of the Italian government in connection with the threat of coronavirus. Azerbaijani golden youth ignores recommendations of the Foreign Ministry - revelry on the Apennines continues.

On March 12, the Operational Headquarters announces an extension of the time for closing the border with Iran for another 2 months. On the same day, headquarters reported the first death from coronavirus.

On March 12, authorities suspended the issuance of electronic visas.

The operating headquarters from 00:00 on March 14 introduces a number of measures to isolate citizens and terminate the activities of household and trade objects.

“In order to suppress the spread of coronavirus, all mass events in the country, including cultural and sports, are postponed for a month,” the report says.

In addition, since March 14, the activities of all cinemas, museums, theaters, entertainment centers and gyms have been suspended.

Wedding events are prohibited, with the exception of those that were previously scheduled for March 14 and 15.

The working hours of cafes and restaurants limited to 21:00. They prohibit the holding of mass celebrations and events. The activities of clubs and bars working after 21:00 are suspended.

On March 14, the border with Georgia is closed by mutual agreement for a period of 10 days. At the same time, the movement of citizens with Turkey is suspended.

March 15, flights to 15 cities of the world are suspended.

The Ministry of Health promises to open the site The Operative Headquarters does not have it either.

April 16 stops sending international mail, and stops the movement of citizens with Russia.

On March 16, Prime Minister Ali Asadov ordered the executive bodies to limit internal contacts and switch to remote work.

On March 17, the country's parliament   made some changes in the law on information, informing and protecting information:  the owner of the information Internet resource is obliged to prevent the dissemination of information that is detrimental to the life and health of people; which could cause damage to property of citizens, massive violation of public safety, activities of vital objects in the field of finance, transport, communications, industry, energy and social and infrastructure facilities, as well as leading to other dangerous consequences.

From 00:00 on March 19 and on the 29th, entry into Baku, Sumgayit of vehicles registered in the regions, as well as their passengers, is prohibited.

On March 19, the Cabinet of Ministers launched an information portal ( to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection, prevent disease and inform the public. However, it works partially.

The staff of most state structures in Azerbaijan will be on paid leave for a month after the holidays of Novruz, that is, after March 29 and until April 29. This is stated by the order of Prime Minister Ali Asadov of March 20.

On March 19, the President’s Decree establishes a Fund to Support the Fight against Coronavirus, to which 20 million manats were allocated from the state budget, the remaining funds became private donations.

On March 21, Georgia imposed a state of emergency.

As part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection, a new regime of public catering facilities and services will be introduced on March 22 - working hours from 09.00 to 15.00.

The Coronavirus Control Headquarters reported that from 00:00 on March 23, the activities of large shopping centers were suspended for one month, with the exception of grocery stores and drug stores.

The operational headquarters in order to combat the spread of coronavirus announced the introduction of a special regime in the country from 00:00 on March 24, 2020 to 20:00 on April 20. It includes a number of restrictions adopted earlier, but strengthens them somewhat.

On March 27, the Operational Headquarters additionally announced the strengthening of the quarantine regime since March 29, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 30, disinfection is carried out on some Baku streets.

March 30, internal troops take to the streets to patrol.

From 00:00 on March 31, 2020 to 00:00 on April 20, 2020, restrictions on the movement of citizens are introduced. The metro is closing.

From April 5, citizens can leave home for 2 hours only by SMS in a store and in a medical facility.

From 00:00 hours on April 5 to 00:00 hours on April 20, entry and exit to the territory of Azerbaijan by land and air, except for the carriage of goods, are completely suspended, the Operational Headquarters under the Cabinet of Ministers said in the evening on April 4.

On April 7, more than a month later, the mini-production of masks was launched - 90 thousand per day and with a prospect of up to 200 thousand pieces. However, there is still shortage of masks.

On April 9, the president allocated 97 million manat to purchase medical equipment for the treatment of coronavirus infected people.

To mitigate the effects of coronavirus, on March 1, first manat was allocated, and then this figure was supplemented by 2.5 billion manat for businesses and low-income citizens.

In the first ten days of May, many restrictions are lifted, metro work is resumed, malls, parks are opened, and catering facilities are resumed, first until 18.00 then 22.00, anti-pandemic propaganda is sharply reduced on television channels. All this against the background of an increase in the number of infected.

On June 4, the government plays back the situation - a more stringent restriction is introduced.

These actions of the government do not fit into the head. It is not clear what a two-day isolation of citizens in the conditions of the next days of wide contacts and small restrictive and preventive measures can give.

Other causes and circumstances

It seems that the government wants to demonstrate to someone the growing danger of a pandemic, some activity around the fight against it. For example, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank, where the government seeks to borrow money to close gaps, caused mainly by falling oil prices, on which economic stability depends. International donors who have already donated aid and can give more.

However, in this case, the information fuss does not at all reflect the state of things. The government’s actions mentioned above do not create confidence in official data on the state of the coronavirus pandemic in Azerbaijan. They cannot be credible, since independent non-governmental organizations and the media are not involved in the control process.

Quite the contrary, the government has taken and is taking restrictive measures to prevent society from controlling the pandemic situation and around it. Such measures include restrictive legislative amendments, restrictions on the activities of political parties, the media, arrests of activists and other police measures.

One may think that the government is also trying to drown out critical voices during the next phase of the socio-economic crisis that the country has entered.

Although abroad, it does not seem so.

“PACE co-rapporteurs for Azerbaijan are well aware of the situation ... After quarantine, reports of international organizations on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan will be critical,” Sunna Evarsdottir, spokeswoman for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

P.S. In contrast to Azerbaijan, the effective, systematic work of the government and civil society of Georgia in cooperation can be called an example of a successful fight against coronavirus. Just this cooperation between the state and society that has yielded impressive results. Less than 900 infected and 13 deaths. As a result, domestic tourism resumes in the country from June 15, and it is planned to open borders for foreign tourists from July 1. Only tourists who present a certificate of the negative response of the laboratory PCR test to coronavirus in the last 72 hours will be allowed into the country.

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