Correspondents of “Chronicles of Turkmenistan” found out that on 7 February, 2020 a meeting bringing together the velayat’s executives, law enforcement officials and chief physicians of medical institutions was held in Turkmenabad.
They key topic on the agenda was combatting the emergence and spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Lebap velayat. The meeting participants were primarily warned that the wording “coronavirus” must not be used when informing residents about the prevention measures in order to avoid panic.
District police officers, local healthcare practitioners and archins of the farming associations in rural areas were charged with the task of conducting the awareness raising campaign and informing the residents that the latter need to comply with hygiene standards.
Apart from standard measures designed to combat the spread of the virus, those in attendance were instructed to monitor the situation in schools and kindergartens, check cooks and residents who plan to cook sumalyak (the dish made of wheatgrass), which is served to guests at the holiday of Novruz.
Everyone who will be cooking sumalyak during the holidays is obliged to undergo medical check-ups and obtain health certificates. Otherwise, the violators will be held administratively responsible.
After cooking, the sample of the dish must be sent to the public health department for testing.
The chefs and cooks that cook meals at weddings, sadaka and other large-scale events are also obliged to obtain medical certificates.
It should be emphasized that the definition “coronavirus” is not used in official Turkmen media outlets. At the same time, some pro-governmental web-based media outlets told about the measures undertaken in Turkmenistan to combat the spread of the novel virus and gave assurances that the public health and epidemiologic situation in Turkmenistan is stable.
The information brochures, which are disseminated in Ashgabat, also mention the symptoms of the disease and say what people should do to counter the spread of coronavirus.
Coronovirus is also mentioned in reports of the Foreign Affairs Ministry which also informed of the measures to combat the virus.