The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 200,000 with nearly 3 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.
Here’s a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL’s broadcast regions.
Authorities in Pakistan have extended the suspension of international flights for a further two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The suspension of international flight operations had been due to end in early May but has now been “extended up to May 15,” government aviation division spokesperson Abdul Sattar Khokhar said.
The move came as health officials warned that tens of thousands of people in Pakistan are ignoring advice to stay home during the holy month of Ramadan, raising fears that the coronavirus pandemic will spread further.
Pakistan has been divided over whether to ease coronavirus restrictions during Ramadan, which began in the country on the evening of April 24.
The federal government in Islamabad has caved to pressure from Islamic clerics to let them lead prayers.
But the southern province of Sindh has announced that no religious gatherings can be held there amid grim warnings by medical workers.
Thousands of people ignored the advice to stay home during the weekend, flocking to mosques and markets on April 25. Many people were seen without face masks and were ignoring social-distancing guidelines.
President Arif Alvi has asked prayer leaders not to allow people over 50 years old into mosques, as agreed by the government and clerics in a 20-point plan to hold congregational prayers during Ramadan.
Doctors warn that the decision to allow gatherings could unleash an uncontrollable wave of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Pakistani Medical Association says the country is still at least six weeks away from a peak of the coronavirus spread.
More than 12,700 people have been infected in Pakistan so far and 269 have died, according to official government figures.
Russia on April 26 reported its largest number of new coronavirus infections within 24 hours, confirming more than 6,360 new infections since a day earlier.
The record single-day tally came a day after health officials in Russia reported the country’s worst daily death toll from coronavirus with 66 fatalities. More than half of those deaths were in Moscow.
According to a global database maintained by Johns Hopkins University, nearly 75,000 people have been infected by coronavirus in Russia. Russia’s official death toll from the pandemic is 681.
Russia’s death tally from COVID-19 is very low compared to Western Europe and the United States. That has raised questions about whether fatalities are being artificially lowered by ascribing them to other causes, such as pneumonia or heart ailments.
Meanwhile, Dmitry Novikov, a member of Russia’s lower house of parliament, or Duma, said he has been infected with COVID-19.
Novikov is the second Communist Duma deputy to catch the virus after Leonid Kalashnikov, who is in a hospital with a fever.
Facing a projected 6 percent decline in Russian GDP this year, the government panel tasked with countering the fallout from the coronavirus has instructed relevant departments to submit proposals on the gradual lifting of restrictions on certain organizations and individual entrepreneurs, Interfax reported.
The Labor Ministry, the Economic Development Ministry, the consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, and the Health Ministry have until April 30 to fulfil the instruction, which was published on the government’s website.
Tajikistan is suspending games of the country’s 10-team soccer league until May 10 amid a series of fresh coronavirus restrictions imposed by the government.
Tajikistan’s soccer federation said on April 26 that the suspension of league games will take effect on April 27.
Why Numbers Don’t Tell The Full Story
A daily compilation of global coronavirus cases by Johns Hopkins University is currently the most comprehensive in the world, but it relies on information provided by governments.
In many countries, there are restrictions on releasing such information or reasons why the full story might not want to be told.
The methodology, immediacy, transparency, and quality of this data can vary dramatically country by country.
Games scheduled to take place on April 26 were set to go ahead without any spectators, just like other matches staged in Tajikistan while the pandemic has been spreading around the world.
Tajikistan has yet to acknowledge that it has any cases of the coronavirus. That has prompted suspicions that authorities in Dushanbe are not accurately reporting information about the pandemic in their country.
Other former Soviet republics in Central Asia have confirmed hundreds of cases.
On April 25, Tajikistan’s government decided to close schools for two weeks. It also imposed a ban on exports of grain in what the government said was an effort to ensure there is an adequate domestic supply.
Tajikistan’s soccer league has attracted international attention in recent weeks as one of the only countries that has pushed ahead with its soccer season.