While nearly 210 countries and territories globally are grappling to contain the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Turkmenistan has reported no cases, insisting that its official data was true and that it has nothing to hide.
While speaking at a news briefing, Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister Rasit Meredow said that if the country had even a single case of COVID-19 infection, the authorities would have informed the World Health Organisation (WHO). Meredow further added that the country is not hiding anything.
Meanwhile, the Healthcare Minister Nurmukhammed Amannepesov, at the same briefing, said that the country has 30,000 test kits at its disposal and has ordered 40,000 more from Russia, Turkey and Germany. Amannepesov also informed that approximately 151 people, who were mostly Turkmen citizens working as long-haul truck drivers and ship crew members, remained in quarantine zones.
While most countries around the world still remain under lockdown, Turkmenistan had reportedly reopened most of its border crossing points. According to an international media outlet, the country is now also preparing to reopen remaining borders including the Iranian border.
Earlier this month, the country had also ordered to ban on the usage of the term ‘coronavirus’. As per reports, the officials had also arrested people who were caught using the term. In a report published by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, the authorities in Turkmenistan had resorted to this move to blacken any information around the pandemic.
Turkmenistan, the secretive country that ranked at the bottommost of the World Press Freedom Index in 2019 beating even North Korea to it, has reported zero cases of COVID-19 in the country and removed the word from public information sources. However, numerous cases have already been reported in neighbouring nations of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Iran.
In March, the Turkmen President reportedly ordered the government to fumigate the country with a herb that is known to have psychedelic effects on ingestion. He claimed that the smoke would annihilate the virus that is "invisible to the naked eye", as per international media.
(Image source: AP Representational)