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Monday 10 August 2020

Turkmen State Employees to Pay for Coronavirus Tests


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PRAGUE (RFE/RL) — Turkmen state employees have been ordered to pay for mandatory, and expensive, coronavirus tests out of their paychecks, a policy order that comes even as health authorities continue to insist the country has had no coronavirus cases, according to.

The cost of the coronavirus test in Turkmenistan is the equivalent of $28.50, a significant amount in that country.

The reason for the government’s order, issued on August 6, was reportedly unclear. Several employees of state-funded entities told RFE/RL that the order coincided with monthly paychecks, which will make it easier for the government to deduct the cost of the tests from wages. The employees spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution by state authorities.

Turkmen officials’ insistence that the country has no coronavirus cases has elicited sustained scepticism. All of the countries surrounding Turkmenistan have reported cases and deaths. Local hospitals, meanwhile, have reportedly been overwhelmed with patients diagnosed with pneumonia symptoms. Some of the patients and medical personnel have died, RFE/RL says.

In some parts of the authoritarian country, so-called quarantine zones have been established, while some industrial facilities are being shut down.

In July, the World Health Organization said that visiting investigators had concerns about reports of pneumonia. The head of the mission, Catherine Smallwood, advised the Turkmen government to activate “the critical public health measures in Turkmenistan, as if COVID-19 was circulating.”

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