Researched by Ulvi Ahmedli
The pandemic of COVID-19 has challenged the global economy unexpectedly. It needs to find a way to cure the virus, the date of finding a vaccine is not known. Even finding the vaccine doesn’t mean the end of the pandemic, the World Health Organization declared.
In order to stop the virus, the governments imposed restrictions and closed crowded areas. It affected the economic activities and recession is forecasted almost in all countries.
Central Asia has suffered from a negative tendency. Thus, unemployment and poverty has increased. The growth of GDP severely declined in comparison with the previous year. Some countries expect 8% decline. The flow of remittances reduced along with these proceedings.
The governments faced hardness to prevent the impact of the pandemic on the economy and socio-economic conditions. The specialists consider that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have shown relative capability on this. However other countries fronted failure.
Hundreds of thousands of people lost their job, many entrepreneurs fell into bankruptcy, SMEs has been the most affected sphere of the economy. The existence of the shadow economy generated problems for receiving support packages.
The weak economy and low-level capacity of the region’s states made it clear before that the region is not ready for such a crisis. It also revealed the main problems of the economy and how to provide the needs of the population.
The global pandemic of COVID-19 has made a huge blow to world economics. Having not sufficient information about the new virus obliged governments to impose restrictions until finding a vaccine. In its turn, these restrictions led to the recession in particular economic sectors.
The interdependence between economic fields caused damages almost to all sectors. For example, the reduction in the manufacturing sector decreased demands for raw materials. It generates total damage to the whole economic system. In general, according to World Bank’s June 2020 Global Economic Prospects, world GDP will see 5.2% contraction. The GDP decline is accounted for 1.7% for Central Asian countries.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts 4.9% of the decline in global growth in its World Economic Outlook. According to the statistical view of Balance, taking into account that world GDP declined 8.4% the numbers given above foretells how the pandemic is hitting and will hit seriously the economic sphere.
The research objective of the article is to give descriptive information on how pandemic hit the socio-economic situation in Central Asia. Regarding explain the damages of the Central Asian economy, the volume of the damage was researched by using a statistical view. The impact of the pandemic on GDP, unemployment, poverty, and remittances have been researched.
The methodology was based on data collection and data analysis. Data were collected by using the official statistics, statements of state officials, reports of the reliable sources like the World Bank and IMF, and interviews by specialists. Data analysis means that descriptive analysis referring to the statistical description was used in the research.
Impact on unemployment
The Central Asian governments imposed restrictions in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The restrictions caused the closure of works which it leads to unemployment, additionally, the closure of the border and the restrictions abroad resulted in the loss of work opportunities and the reduction in remittances emerged.
Like other states of the world, Kazakhstan also set a quarantine regime which led to the rise in unemployment. In the first month of the lockdown, in Kazakhstan 443 thousand people lost their job due to the emergency situation. Kazakhstan is suffering from this tendency but not as many other countries in the region. According to IMF, the unemployment rate will increase from 4.8% to 7.8%.
In Kazakhstan, almost 300 thousand small and medium enterprises (SME) closed and 80% of entrepreneurs suspended their activities. 1.6 million people lost their jobs or became on unpaid leaves’ list in Kazakhstan.
Kyrgyzstan is another country that heavily suffers from coronavirus’s impact. Ministry of Economy noted that around 700 thousand people (11% of the total population) along with migrant workers joined the jobless groups during pandemic.
According to the official statistics, there are 6.2 percent unemployment for 2018 . The media reports that there is a possibility of that unemployment could rise to 13.6% and at worst case to 21% in 2020.
Uzbekistan is the most populated country in Central Asia and its economic indications have huge impact overall the region. According to the United Nations Development Programme, 475,000 or 85 percent of the country’s small businesses were closed in March in Uzbekistan. The income of self-employed people fell 67 percent.
The Minister of Employment and Labor Relations of Uzbekistan, Nozim Khusanov stated that unemployment was 9.3% before pandemic but now for July rough estimation is 14-15% percent almost 5-6% increase.
Unemployment in Tajikistan spiked in May while 70 percent of works were closed comparing with July 2020, World Bank says. Tajikistan expects the return of 150-200 thousand migrants from Russia and Kazakhstan. This event will increase the rate of unemployment and poverty in the country. According to official notes, Tajikistan had 2% unemployment before the pandemic, but now it is expected unemployment will reach 6.1%.
The statistics and assuming allow us to say that the pandemic will have a serious impact on the rise of unemployment. However, Turkmenistan has not presented any assuming on the impact of COVID-19 on unemployment. It is hard to predict possible growth in the unemployment rate.
The statistics given above indicate that approximately 80% of SMEs were closed after the lockdown. In many countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan unemployment rate almost hit double and more. However, it is expected that after the pandemic the situation will become to back slightly.
Coronavirus pandemic has a huge social impact including the growth of poverty and loss of remittances and migrant problems.
It should be noted that people in Central Asia heads to Russia to find a job. Federal service for state statistics reported that 3.4 million migrants from Central Asian countries in Russia. 60% of the remittances flow comes from Russia. The economic shrink in Russia will have a huge impact on the social conditions of people in Central Asia.
The closure of work and income decline has impacted the growth of poverty in Central Asia. Loss of income due to the reduction or suspension of remittances makes recipient households vulnerable. Such conditions also generate difficulties for access to basic services such as education and health services.
The pandemic seriously affected the poverty rate in Kazakhstan so that poverty could rise to 12.7 percent from projected 8.3 percent leaving an additional 800 thousand people in poverty, World Bank reports.
The government of Kazakhstan attempted to prevent the growth of poverty by allocating social packages to the vulnerable segments of the population. Approximately $100 were aided to those people and some food packages were sent. Many more people lost their jobs which have not been indicated because of the existence of the shadow economy. As a result, 8 million people applied for social aid but only 4.5 million received in the country.
Nevertheless, Kazakhstan is the most successful country in the region in coping the crisis along with Uzbekistan. We shouldn’t forget that so few countries have been prepared to such a crisis and many have been caught unprepared.
Kyrgyzstan has seen positive development on the poverty rate from 2012 to 2018. In that period, the poverty rate was decreased from 38% to 22%. Asian Development Bank estimates that the pandemic will have a devastating blow to the Kyrgyzstan economy. Thus, the additional 200,000 people could fall into poverty, so the poverty rate could increase to 26%. Loss of income due to reduction or suspension of remittances makes recipient households vulnerable.
Political analyst Denis Berdakov, the founder of Central Eurasia Transboundary Research Network thinks that Kyrgyzstan failed to cope with coronavirus.
“Unemployment rate rises from 20% to 50%. Many companies fired workers or sent them to vacation without payment. This situation could last one or one and a half year”.
Berdakov considers that the healthcare system of Kyrgyzstan was not ready for such a crisis.
“The health system needs reforms in the country. People are very poor and they can’t spend sufficient money on medical drugs and cure themselves. Additionally, the government lacks enough money to help the population.”
He also says that the banking system suffered much from the effects of the virus.
“Almost 40-60% of borrowers couldn’t pay their loans. In this circumstance, banks should extend the time.”
Denis Berdakov compared the Kyrgyzstan Health system with Uzbekistan. He noted that the Uzbek government is much more ready than Kyrgyzstan. Although in the very first month of the quarantine, Uzbekistan also witnessed much hardness but later they could find a solution. The administrative system of the government is much effective than Kyrgyzstan on coping with crisis.
Tajikistan’s economy has a huge dependence on remittances. According to official statistics that remittances contain 33% of GDP. For the first half of this year, there is 15% decrease in remittances were reported, Eurasianet presents a statistical view.
Turkmenistan denied the outbreak of coronavirus in the country. According to Humans Right Watch, the situation in the country is not so well. Thus, health workers claim that the hospital overwhelmed with pneumonia-like cases. Many death cases belong to health workers.
There are contradicted reports that some claims hospitals provide workers with glove and masks but some say the contrast.
Central Asian countries are among top five most-affected by pandemic on remittances flow. Asia Development Bank estimates that Tajikistan will suffer 27.9% decline and Kyrgyzstan 25.2%. Besides, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan will see 24.1% decline and Kazakhstan 21.8%.
UNDP report writes that from the very first month of lockdown, Uzbekistan closed 475,000 works or 85 percent of small businesses in March. Another factor is the fall of remittances. The remittances for the Uzbekistan economy will suffer from 50 percent decrease. It is worthy to note that remittances account 15 percent of Uzbekistan’s GDP. Additionally, the crisis may fall 448 thousand or 1.3% of the population into poverty.
The pandemic has a global impact on socio-economic conditions. The women of the region have faced domestic violence. According to OECD reports, the calls to the hotline on the domestic violence have tripled in Kazakhstan and 67% increase in Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan adopted measures to prevent such cases by establishing hotline with lawyers and therapists. In Central Asia, women contain the majority of the healthcare and social works which made them more vulnerable to the virus.
Laziz Khujakulov, Head of ICT Implementation Coordination Department of the Ministry of Public Education of Uzbekistan (MOPE) noted that almost 1836 video lessons in Russian, Uzbek and Karakalpak languages were broadcasted, amounting to more than 900 hours of duration till May. Overall, 14 million students affected by the measures of the Central Asian governments.
Apart from this health services to special marginalized groups like including people with disabilities, returning migrants, people living with HIV, people who use drugs are experiences the impact of lockdown in both social and economic perspectives.
The pandemic has hit the Central Asian economy in the font of poverty growth and remittances. The unemployment due to the closure of works and a sharp reduction in remittances left the socio-economic situation in the region.
Several factors caused economic shrink in Central Asia. The lack of diversification on the economy has a huge impact on the economic shrink. The region countries’ economy depends on the production of raw materials such as energy and mineral resources. The closure of works and lowering the demand for raw materials influence their economies negatively. The countries which rely heavily on remittances were impacted by the lockdown.
According to the IMF report, Kazakhstan suffers from -2.5%, Kyrgyzstan -4% shrink but Tajikistan could see 1% growth, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan 1.8% for both.
The political analyst on South Caucasus and Central Asia Ilgar Valizade commented on the impact of the pandemic on the Central Asian economy. He also mentioned the possible economic decline in GDP in a comparison with previous years. He noted Kazakhstan has faced more risks and the main factor in this is the economic dependence on Russia.
“Whatever happens in the Russian economy, it has an impact on Kazakhstan. In monetary policy also, if Russian rubles devaluates it will affect Kazakh tenge. Nowadays, many economists predict stabilization in the Russian economy, I think it will have a positive influence on the Kazakhstan economy.”
The main challenge comes from oil prices. As you know, the oil sector is the main part of Kazakhstan’s economy. However, the oil prices are estimated at around 35-45 USD, which will reduce the inflation in Kazakhstan.” It should be noted that oil prices dramatically fell at the beginning of the year, but now it seems going to be stable.
Ilgar Valizade also added that Kyrgyzstan’s economy has a dependence on Kazakhstan’s economy.
Turkmenistan’s economy depends on gas export, so the fall of gas prices has a negative impact. Turkmenistan has a unique economic structure; they are selling gas in exchange for other products. Such conditions in gas prices will decline products. It will influence on the health sector. Because, many drugs are not produced in the country, current conditions will make difficulties to access to such needs.
According to official estimation, Europe expects around 10% decline in GDP, nevertheless, Central Asia accounts for around 2%. Ilgar Valizade considers that it is due to the sustainable internal market.
“European economy is export-driven, but Central Asia is different. These countries rely on the internal market and have lesser dependence on the world market.”
Kazakhstan-based journalist Karlygash Zhussupbekova told her observation on negative changes due to pandemic as a journalist and citizens in her state.
“Large businesses such as manufacturing, oil and construction sectors continued to operate, they practically did not stop their activities, and, probably, this was justified. However small and medium-sized businesses, it seems to me, have especially acutely felt the impact of the pandemic.”
She also said that during the quarantine, the service and trade sectors, catering (shopping and entertainment centers, beauty salons, fitness centers, restaurants, cafes, etc., except for small shops near the house, were closed, the owners suffered considerable losses. allowed to work (pharmacies and convenience stores), strict requirements were imposed on the part of the sanitary and epidemiological services, and in case of the slightest violations, they were forced to pay fines.
“There were even statements that the coronavirus could kill small and medium-sized businesses in Kazakhstan. In fact, today SMEs significantly replenish the country’s budget, solve the problems of employment and unemployment, fill the market with domestic goods, creating a competitive environment. There is often talk in society that some entrepreneurs working in the SME sector went bankrupt and shut down their businesses, sent their employees on indefinite leave without pay, or even fired their employees altogether because they had nothing to pay. The ranks of the unemployed have grown.”
Karlygash Zhussupbekova told that there were some who found a way out especially in the restaurant business.
“The most enterprising owners of cafes and restaurants organized food delivery to their homes, and thus stayed afloat, and with the arrival of summer, they created an outdoor cafe with respect to distance and measures precautions. It is not for nothing that they say that a crisis is a time of opportunity, and those who managed to rebuild and not give up, kept their business. And some even managed to open their own business in quarantine. For example, my former colleague, who worked as a press secretary in a central government agency, while on maternity leave, opened two canteens.”
Director of Center for Economic Development, Yuliy Yusupov considers that almost all such predictions are made purely schematically and the previous data is extrapolated.
“Central Asian countries are developing at a relatively good pace. According to this logic, we subtract some percentage from their previous rates of eq. growth and we get a drop smaller than in many other countries. The approach is very primitive. But it often works.”
He also agreed with Ilgar Valizade that Central Asian countries are less dependent on a decline in international trade and are therefore likely to be less affected by the epidemic. And at the expense of forecasts – yes, they are very conditional.
The global pandemic of COVID-19 tests the responsive capacity of governments in such circumstances. The effects of the pandemic were devastating in some countries of Central Asia. It has put forward several tasks for the governments. Firstly, the healthcare system should be able to ensure people’s health. Secondly, governments should adopt measures to support businesses and also the social conditions of the population.
As we noted above, the Central Asian economy has a huge dependence on the remittances coming from the labor migrants. There are approximately 3.4 million migrants working in Russia. If we take into account the poor health systems in some countries of the region, the return of migrants could be additional strain on the healthcare system. Providing return of migrants from mainly Russia is another challenge for Central Asian countries, many migrants were stuck in there and unable to return.
Kazakhstan confirmed the first case on 13 March and president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared a state of emergency from 16 March to 11 May and the holidays and events were canceled. Starting from March 19 till the end of the month, the government imposed lockdown in cities.
Kazakhstan announced to spend 13 billion USD for battling coronavirus or 8% of GDP.
Karlygash Zhussupbekova told us that the government of Kazakhstan has adopted several measures for stabilizing the economic situation.
“According to the press service of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, during the first wave of coronavirus in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 287 of March 16, 2020 “On further measures to stabilize the economy”, the Government adopted a number of necessary measures: Value added tax on socially significant goods are reduced to 8% by October 1, 2020; exporters of gasoline (excluding aviation) and diesel fuel are exempt from excise taxes until December 31, 2020; property tax for legal entities and individual entrepreneurs working in the field of tourism, public catering and hotel services is removed; SME companies are provided with a deferral for payments to the budget until June 1, 2020.”
She also added that after some easing of quarantine in July, income taxes for micro and small businesses were lifted, exemptions from taxes from the wage fund were introduced in many different sectors, preferential lending was expanded. A comprehensive plan was adopted to restore economic growth, and, despite this, in addition to it, additional measures were taken in June to support business, which provides for 43 measures that are aimed at solving current business issues, including state purchases, Kazakh content, leasing of agricultural equipment and promotion of goods for export.
Karlygash Zhussupbekova noted that there is also a special State Commission, where all proposals from business representatives are considered, which are accumulated and collected from all regions and are considered on the most pressing issues.
On 29 January, Uzbekistan adopted a presidential decree on the establishment of the Republican Commission, a program for preventing the entry and spread of coronavirus.
Many Uzbek migrants trapped in Russia and couldn’t return to their homes. Uzbek Embassy in Moscow announced the payment of around 175 USD for migrants who has coronavirus.
The deputy Employment and Labor Relations Minister, Yerkin Mukhitdinov stated that 500,000 migrants returned Uzbekistan without a regular income on 30 May.
Several business sectors were exempted from property tax, and self-employed people of more 60 professions were exempted from income tax. This decision of Commission is valid between 1 June and 1 September. The government reopened tourism and the Anti-Crisis Fund will pay if tourist contacts the virus.
Uzbekistan Finance Ministry cut the budget for creating a reserve fund to combat COVID-19. According to documents, Uzbekistan has spent $ 742 million as of August 1.
Kyrgyzstan canceled international flights as other countries in the world as preventive measures. Since 20 March, the government has stopped flights. After two days, foreigners were banned to enter the country, and since 25 domestic flights were also ceased.
The country announced a state of emergency from 25 March to 15 April. Along with lockdown and disinfection measures, the government also sent aids to poor families. As of the end of April, more than 90,000 families received assistance. The Ministry of Finance revealed that total financial assistance to the state budget expecting to reach $ 627 million.
Tajikistan confirmed the first COVID-19 cases on 30 April. Although the neighboring countries set lockdown and other preventive measures, Tajikistan has not canceled the massive celebration of National Holiday Nowruz.
As Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan also received international assistance on the fighting against COVID-19, the assistance accounts at least $ 300 million and another $ 70 million is expected. According to media reports, the government fails to manage the assistance and the measures taken by the government don’t suffice to tackle over the virus.
While the region’s countries are battling against coronavirus, Turkmenistan has not confirmed any cases. However, the government has adopted preventive measures such as suspension of international flights and banning foreigners’ entry to the country. Along with these measures, the government also banned the mass gatherings.
On 7 July, a team of WHO/EU specialists has arrived in the country for a 10-day visit by the invitation of the government. The head of the team Dr. Catherine Smallwood expressed his belief on the effectiveness of measures.
The combat against COVID-19 and its economic impacts depend on the capacities of the government. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have been able to cope with the impacts of the coronavirus both in economic and health systems and at the same time, the government has performed well in stabilizing the socio-economic situation. Nevertheless, Kyrgyzstan lacked the economic capacity for preventing the effects of the virus. Turkmenistan and Tajikistan’s government witnessed the incapability of the administration. The authority has been careless about the danger of the virus and the situation. They have adopted wrong decisions and the people have suffered from the results.
The pandemic has shocked the world economic situation not only just one region but almost affected all the countries which imposed lockdown. The socio-economic situation has suffered much regarding growth in the unemployment rate, poverty, strain on public health. At the same time, GDP decline hit economic capacity which limits the measures for preventing the effects of COVID-19.
The main cause for it is the imposing lockdown measures and this decision leads cease of economic activities. The data has collected and given above indicate that the situation exacerbated the socio-economic conditions of Central Asia. The unemployment rate almost doubled, the comparison of GDP growth with the previous year and this year shows the change of minimum 4% to 8% negatively in Central Asia. We should know that such numbers are normal in terms of forecasted decline in global GDP which is around 5%. However, it is not an indication of a powerful economy in Central Asia, it is due to the low-level dependence on the global market.
Imposing quarantine in the countries where migrants work also affected the rate of remittances which accounts for the main part of the economy. The reduction of 20-25% in remittance is expected for this year for Central Asian countries. The statistics show that remittances accounts 15-25% of GDP in Central Asia.
The main reasons of the reduction of income are a decline in remittances and rise of the unemployment rate. Governments of the region adopted several measures for preventing the negative effects of the virus on the country’s economy. The taxes have been reduced, social packages for people who lost their job due to the virus. Support measures are adopted for holding the business sector alive.
The main problems are the existence of a shadow economy which impacts to the accounting of the real unemployed persons. In these circumstances, some people have not received social packages. Mainly it affects businesses more than ordinary people, unregistered enterprises or volume of the turnover have not registered properly then they have no way to get enough or total support from the government.
According to world statistics on the healthcare system Central Asian countries don’t occupy high ranks, the spread of viruses requires proper medical care. The low-level of healthcare infrastructure and lackness of beds make countries vulnerable against the virus.
The poor conditions on both in government and people have generated obstacles for coping with the negative impacts of the virus. The inequality in this field has led the inequality in the combating against the COVID-19. It also set out the problem that the collaboration and common mechanisms against such a crisis is the main need for the region. Whenever the common mechanisms will be established, the inequality will be diminished and all the threats to the one will be equal to all.
 “Global Economic Prospects”, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank, June 2020, p. 5, 72.
 “World Economic Outlook Update”, International Monetary Fund, June 2020, p. 1.
 Kimberly Amadeo, “2008 GDP, Growth, and Updates by Quarter”, The Balance, 12 June 2020, https://www.thebalance.com/2008-gdp-growth-updates-by-quarter-3305542
 “Unemployment rate”, International Monetary Fund, 2020, https://www.imf.org/external/datamapper/LUR@WEO/OEMDC/ADVEC/WEOWORLD/KAZ
 “THE COVID-19 CRISIS IN KAZAKHSTAN”, OECD, 20 April 2020.
 Elena Khokhlova, “Kyrgyzstan’s GDP to fall by 10 percent in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic”, 24 KG, 13 August 2020, https://24.kg/english/162468_Kyrgyzstans_GDP_to_fall_by_10_percent_in_2020_due_to_COVID-19_pandemic/
 “Uzbekistan’s health care system, economy hit hard by COVID-19”, UNDP, 6 July 2020, https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/news-centre/news/2020/Uzbekistan_health_care_economy_hit_hard_by_COVID19.html
 “Economic and Social Impacts of COVID-19: Updates from the Listening to Tajikistan Survey”, World Bank, 13 July 2020, https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/factsheet/2020/07/13/economic-and-social-impacts-of-covid-19-update-from-listening-to-tajikistan
 “CORONA VIRUS – The situation in Tajikistan”, Flanders Investment & Trade, 16 July 2020, https://www.flandersinvestmentandtrade.com/export/nieuws/corona-virus-situation-tajikistan
 “NAVIGATING THE CRISIS – KAZAKHSTAN ECONOMIC UPDATE”, World Bank Group, Summer 2020, p. 23
 Marinin Sergey, “Corona-crisis in Kazakhstan: Has the Government Coped with the Consequences of the Pandemic?”, CABAR, 24 June 2020, https://cabar.asia/en/corona-crisis-in-kazakhstan-has-the-government-coped-with-the-consequences-of-the-pandemic/
 “COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Project”, Asia Development Bank
 “Tajikistan: Coronavirus taking heavy toll on remittances”, Eurasianet, 22 July 2020, https://eurasianet.org/tajikistan-coronavirus-taking-heavy-toll-on-remittances
 “Turkmenistan Denies Apparent Covid-19 Outbreak”, Human Rights Watch, 27 June 2020, https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/06/27/turkmenistan-denies-apparent-covid-19-outbreak
 “COVID-19 Impact on International Migration, Remittances, and Recipient Households in Developing Asia”, Asia Development Bank (No. 148), August 2020.
 “UZBEKISTAN: Consolidated Multilateral COVID-19 Socio-Economic Response & Recovery Offer”, UNDP, 19 May 2020, p. 7,23.
 “COVID-19 crisis response in Central Asia”, OECD, 4 June 2020, p. 12.
 “Uzbekistan: Heartbreak and despair for expat laborers trapped by COVID”, Eurasianet, 5 June 2020, https://eurasianet.org/uzbekistan-heartbreak-and-despair-for-expat-laborers-trapped-by-covid
 “How Uzbekistan Deals with the Pandemic Challenges: Lessons for the Future”, CABAR, 10 June 2020, https://cabar.asia/en/how-uzbekistan-deals-with-the-pandemic-challenges-lessons-for-the-future/#_ftn3
 “CORONA VIRUS – The situation in Kyrgyzstan”, Flanders Investment and Trades, 16 July 2020, https://www.flandersinvestmentandtrade.com/export/nieuws/corona-virus-situation-kyrgyzstan
 “CORONA VIRUS – The situation in Tajikistan”, Flanders Investment and Trades, 16 July 2020, https://www.flandersinvestmentandtrade.com/export/nieuws/corona-virus-situation-tajikistan
 “Tajikistan: Coronavirus brings bonanza of aid, but zero accountability”, Eurasianet, 29 July 2020, https://eurasianet.org/tajikistan-coronavirus-brings-bonanza-of-aid-but-zero-accountability
 Nazrin Gadimova, “WHO Gets Go-Ahead From Government To Begin COVID-19 Testing In Turkmenistan”, Caspian News, 11 August 2020, https://caspiannews.com/news-detail/who-gets-go-ahead-from-government-to-begin-covid-19-testing-in-turkmenistan-2020-8-11-0/