The global coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 220,000 people worldwide, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.
Here’s a roundup of developments in RFE/RL’s broadcast countries.
Russia has recorded its first death from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
The country’s coronavirus task force in Moscow said on March 19 that a 79-year-old woman, who had several health problems, died while being treated for the coronavirus.
The task force cited Svetlana Krasnova, the chief doctor at Infections Hospital No 2 in Moscow, as saying that the woman had diabetes, atherosclerosis, and heart problems linked to hypertension.
Russia has confirmed 147 coronavirus cases of the corona virus.
Authorities in Pakistan have closed shrines of Sufi saints in the capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere while access to museums, archaeological, and tourist sites have been banned as confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to 301, mostly in pilgrims returning from Iran.
Two Pakistanis who had returned from Saudi Arabia and Dubai became the country’s first victims when they died on March 18 in the northwest.
Schools have already been shut in Pakistan.
Thousands of Pakistanis, mostly pilgrims, have been placed into quarantine in recent weeks at the Taftan border crossing in the country’s southwestern province of Balochistan after returning from Iran, one of the world’s worst affected countries.
Pakistani authorities on March 19 plan to quarantine hundreds more pilgrims who returned from Iran. These pilgrims will be kept at isolated buildings in central Pakistan for 14 days.
The speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and other lawmakers will be tested for the novel coronavirus after one of their colleagues tested positive on March 18, local media has reported.
Authorities are trying to trace everyone who has been in contact with lawmaker Serhiy Shakhov of the Dovira (Faith) parliamentary group since he entered the legislature earlier in the week following a trip to an unspecified EU member state.
Shakhov appeared on Ukrainian television on March 12-13, according to deputy Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, and participated in a meeting of the parliament’s Environment Committee on March 13.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the infected lawmaker’s voter card was registered in parliament on March 17 and was used to vote, although Shakhov was absent.
“Unfortunately, his colleagues are guilty of multiple voting,” Zelenskiy said about the widespread phenomenon of multiple voting in parliament that is punishable by law.
Ukraine, which has confirmed 16 cases of the respiratory illness and two deaths in four regions and the capital city, Kyiv, closed its borders to foreigners for two weeks starting on March 16.
Authorities have also cancelled air, rail, and bus connections between cities and regions, and shut down the subway in all three cities where they operate, including Kyiv.
Amid worldwide travel restrictions, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said about 21,000 Ukrainian citizens had asked for assistance in returning home from abroad and that 57 flights were planned for their repatriation.
“Overall, the number of citizens planning to return to Ukraine is about 38,000,” the ministry said, adding that more than 27,600 people had returned to Ukraine in the previous 24 hours.