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COVID-19 in Georgia Live Blog – April 2020 / Archived

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Thursday, April 30

19:25 GMT+4 – Six More Recoveries Reported

Six more patients recovered from the novel coronavirus in Georgia, taking the number of total recoveries to 184, according to StopCov.ge website.

17:00 GMT+4 – Slovakia Allocates Additional Funds to Help Georgia Combat Pandemic

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic has committed additional funds worth EU 44,198 to finance five projects run by Georgian CSOs aimed at mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout for Georgia.

“Small grant projects will help protect the population against this disease and contribute to the elimination of adverse economic consequences in less developed areas of Georgia,” Slovak Embassy in Tbilisi stated.

14:55 GMT+4 – Tskhinvali Prolongs Restrictions on Roki Crossing-Point with Russia Until May 31

Moscow-backed leadership of Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia announced today that Roki crossing-point connecting the region with the Russian Federation will be closed through 23:59 May 31.

In the meantime, restrictions on educational institutions, as well as entertaining centers, cafes, restaurants, pools, gyms have also been prolonged through 23:59 May 11.

13:00 GMT+4 – UNDP: Georgian Healthcare Sector ‘Well-Prepared’, Economy ‘Vulnerable’ to Pandemic

The United Nations Development Program in Georgia released a statement evaluating country’s capability to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia has 26 hospital beds, 51 physicians and 41 nurses per 10,000 people which places it in the group of countries with high-level sector preparedness, noted UNDP. It emphasized that healthcare system’s readiness proved crucial in shaping “Georgia’s successful management of the pandemic.”

According to UNDP data, the most developed countries – those in the very high human development category – have on average 55 hospital beds, over 30 physicians, and 81 nurses per 10,000 people, compared to 7 hospital beds, 2.5 physicians, and 6 nurses in the least developed countries.

On the other hand, UNDP called attention to other, non-healthcare factors that may render the country vulnerable to the coronavirus fallout. It mentioned that travel bans and lockdowns are especially risky for countries that rely heavily on tourism and remittances.

According to the assessment, “with tourism accounting for 21.7% of GDP and remittances worth 12.6% of GDP,” Georgia scored as “particularly vulnerable” to economic shocks from COVID-19.

UNDP stated that “relatively high national poverty line” in Georgia – 20,1 % – was “another cause for concern.”

12:20 GMT+4 – Georgia Receives 2,000 RNA Extraction Kits from Germany

The National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia received 2,000 RNA extraction kits granted by the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology, according to Michael Siebert, Director for Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia at the German Foreign Office.

Kits will be used in PCR diagnosis for the novel coronavirus.

12:10 GMT+4 – 114 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 114 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. Law enforcement officers fined 74 citizens for disobeying the nationwide curfew in effect from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Police also fined 29 citizens for gathering in a group of more than three people in public spaces and failing to observe two-meter distance. Three citizens were fined for transporting passengers and violating restrictions on driving. Police officers also uncovered 8 new cases of violating self-isolation regime.

10:25 GMT+4 – Total Confirmed Cases Increase to 539

22 more patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, increasing the number of total confirmed cases to 539, according to government-run StopCov.ge website.

Medical Director of Tbilisi Hospital of Infectious Diseases, Marina Ezugbaia told journalists that 15 infected patients are from the Tetritskaro Municipality in Kvemo Kartli region, three others from the Svaneti region, and the rest belong to cluster of Bolnisi, south to capital city of Tbilisi.

Wednesday, April 29

21:00 GMT+4 – Country’s Top Doctor Rebuts that Georgians are ‘Genetically More Resistant’ to Coronavirus

Georgia’s top infectious disease physician Tengiz Tsertsvadze stated “it is extremely unlikely” that Georgians are genetically more resistant to the novel coronavirus.

Tsertsvadze, who heads the Tbilisi Hospital of Infectious Diseases, suggested it might be the case that coronavirus strains in Georgia were of low virulence, but it had to be “scientifically demonstrated.”

“Presently, there is no scientific evidence indicating that the virus strains circulating in Georgia are less virulent. This is corroborated by the fact that [the virus strain] could not have emerged in Georgia alone, as it was imported from China, Italy and other countries,” noted Tsertsvadze, stressing that these countries had seen large-scale outbreaks of the infection.

As for presumed genetic resistance of Georgians to the highly-contagious virus, Tsertsvadze said it was hypothetically possible, though extremely unlikely based on the current knowledge about COVID-19.

20:35 GMT+4 – Sokhumi Further Lifts Some Coronavirus Measures, Extends Other Restrictions 

Aslan Bzhania, a Moscow-backed leader of Abkhazia, signed a decree on April 29 lifting some of the measures against COVID-19 in the region from May 1, while extending number of other restrictions until May 15.

According to the decree, restrictions will be lifted on local public transport and taxi, while transport connecting the city centers to outskirts will run according to the schedule of agricultural and clothing markets, which will be allowed to work no more than three days per week.

In the meantime, Sokumi is extending a number of restrictions until May 15, including on restaurants, cafes, beauty and spa salons and other places of public gathering.

The ban on holding cultural, sports, entertainment, wedding and gala events is also extended.

The decree extends vacations in kindergartens, schools and higher education institutions until May 15 as well.

Movement restrictions are also extended on Psou crossing point, the only land connection between Russia and occupied Abkhazia.

20:30 GMT+4 – 10 More Patients Recovered

Ten more patients have recovered from the novel coronavirus in Georgia, taking the number of total recoveries to 178, according to StopCov.ge website.

20:00 GMT+4 – Amnesty Int’l Assesses Georgia’s Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

Amnesty International, London-based human rights watchdog, released a report on April 29 assessing Eastern European and Central Asian states’ responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

The watchdog stated that state of emergency measures introduced by the Georgian government on March 21 were “necessary, proportionate, and motivated by legitimate public health objectives.”

Amnesty International raised concerns over the fact that some emergency measures were applied “in a discriminatory fashion,” referring to large gatherings of Georgian Orthodox Church parishioners in churches on religious holidays.

11:50 GMT+4 – Restrictions to be Eased for Tbilisi Residents to Allow ‘Essential’ Agricultural Work out of Capital

Starting today, residents of Tbilisi will be allowed to leave the capital for agricultural works during 06:00-08:00 and return during 18:00-19:00, based on a special permit available online at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture.

Residents of Batumi, Rustavi and Kutaisi should apply to the regional headquarters for permission.

Georgia shut down the country’s four largest cities – the capital city of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi and Rustavi – for 10 days effective from April 15, 21:00. However, the ban has been further extended until the end of the state of emergency.

11:50 GMT+4 – 87 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 87 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 70 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 16 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; one citizen – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

10:55 GMT+4 – Georgia Receives 40,000 PCR, 20,000 Antibody Tests from China

Georgian Health Ministry has received 40,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits from China. According to Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze, Georgia has also received 20,000 coronavirus antibody tests as a gift.

Minister Tikaradze added that the national COVID-19 testing algorithm is being expanded “on a daily basis” to include more groups. “This week we are expanding testing for vulnerable, high-risk groups, and additionally we are working on who will be the next priority,” Tikaradze stated.

Initially, the algorithm included suspected patients with travel history in countries hit hard by the novel coronavirus, people who had come into contact with patients already diagnosed with the disease, symptomatic patients (with high fever), and high-risk groups such as frontline medical personnel.

Later, organized groups and places of public assembly, like penitentiary and psychiatric facilities, elderly houses, defense forces, priests and monasteries have also been added to the list; meanwhile yesterday, Minister Tikaradze announced that COVID-19 testing will be expanded to care home residents – senior citizens and people with disabilities as well.

10:15 GMT+4 – Six More Cases Take Total to 517

Six more patients tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Georgia, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 517, according to StopCov.ge website.

Tuesday, April 28

21:54 GMT+4 – 12 More Patients Recovered

StopCov.ge website has reported that twelve more patients have recovered from the novel coronavirus in Georgia, taking the number of total recoveries to 168.

21:54 GMT+4 – Coronavirus Testing to be Conducted in Care Homes for Elderly and People with Disabilities

Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze has stated that COVID-19 testing will be expanded to care home residents – senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Georgia will be rolling out testing of new target groups to “prevent the spread  of the infection among the high-risk groups.”

“In fact, we are ready to start testing tomorrow. However, we will announce exact date after concluding some paperwork procedures,” Tikaradze noted.

14:15 GMT+4 – Gov’t Eases Strict Lockdown Measures in Lentekhi Municipality, Village in Khashuri Municipality

The Inter-Agency Coordination Council on Coronavirus, a Government task force, has decreed to relax strict quarantine measures that were in place in Lentekhi municipality (northwestern Georgia) and Khidiskuri village of Khashuri municipality (central Georgia) to halt the spread of the disease. As stated by the Government, the decision was made considering “current epidemiological situation.”

4,300 residents of Lentekhi, as well as 80 residents of Khidiskuri village have undergone thermo-screening (measuring body temperatures) for several times, while all traced contacts of confirmed cases have been tested for the virus, according to the Government.

From now on, lockdown measures in effect in Georgia bar several hotspot regions will apply to the said two administrative areas.

12:00 GMT+4 – Police Uncover 109 Cases of Emergency Law Violations

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has announced about uncovering 109 cases of breaching the emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. Law enforcement officers fined 63 citizens for violating the nationwide curfew between 21:00 of April 27 and 06:00 of April 28. Police also exposed one case of violating the self-isolation regime.

45 individuals were fined for gathering in a group of more than 3 people and not following the two-meter physical distancing guideline.

09:55 GMT+4 – Total Confirmed Cases Reach 511

Georgia has reported that 14 more patients tested positive for COVID-19, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 511, according to government-run StopCov.ge website.

Monday, April 27

23:50 GMT+4 – Abkhazia’s ‘Patient Zero’ Recovers

Abkhazia’s “patient zero” – the first recorded case by Sokhumi authorities – has now recovered from a disease caused by the novel coronavirus,  Russian media has reported.

23:40 GMT+4 – Seven More Recoveries, One More New Case Reported

StopCov.ge has reported that seven more patients recovered from COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the number of recoveries to 156. In the meantime, one more patient tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing the number of total confirmed cases to 497.

17:00 GMT+4 – National Bank Sold USD 20 Million to Help Steady Lari

National Bank of Georgia (NBG) sold USD 20 million at the foreign exchange (FX) auction today in an bid to shore up the weakened national currency. The average weighted bid rate amounted 3.2035, the NBG said. The NBG also stepped in on March 13, 19 and March 25 to carry out currency intervention worth USD 100 million to ease the pressure on the exchange rate of Lari amid coronavirus fallout. Currently, Georgia’s national currency is trading at GEL 3,2072 per U.S. dollar on Bloomberg’s platform.

Georgia’s national currency reached a historic low trading at GEL 3,51 per U.S. dollar on Bloomberg’s platform on March 25. It then kept appreciating against U.S. Dollar until April 15, when it reached the exchange rate of 3.1404. Starting from April 15, Lari keeps depreciating, with reaching 3.2238 rate per U.S. Dollar on Bloomberg’s platform in the early hours of April 27.

15:00 GMT+4 – Top Rating Agency Downgrades Georgia’s Economic Outlook from ‘Stable’ to ‘Negative’

Fitch Ratings, a U.S.-based credit rating agency, has revised Georgia’s economic outlook from “stable” to “negative”, affirming its long-term issuer default rating – which measures country’s ability to meet its financial obligations – at “BB” (“speculative” credit quality).

Fitch ratings are marked by a series of symbols ranging between “AAA” and “D”, the former denoting “highest credit quality,” and the latter “Default”.

In a statement, Fitch says the updated outlook reflects “the evolving impact” of the COVID-19 pandemic on Georgia.

“This significant shock will lead to a sharp contraction of Georgia’s small and open economy with a high dependence on tourism, deterioration in fiscal accounts including markedly higher public debt and increased risk stemming from Georgia’s higher external debt and wider structural current account deficit relative to the median of its “BB” category peers,” notes the rating agency.

Fitch forecasts that Georgia’s real GDP growth in 2020 is set to contract by 4,8 %, while services and industries related to the tourism sector will be “hardest hit” by the coronavirus fallout. “A national lockdown, in place since March 21, will accentuate the impact on domestic demand,” reads the statement.

The agency projects that GDP growth will partially recover in 2021, rising to 4,3 %, supported by a rebound in external demand, revival of private consumption, employment growth, and a recovery in investment. However, it draws attention to “material downside” risks to forecasts given the “uncertainty around the extent and duration” of the current outbreak.

“If a second wave of infections materializes and lockdown measures have to be re-introduced, this would exacerbate negative spillovers to Georgia’s labor market, banking sector and public finances,” notes Fitch Ratings.

12:30 GMT+4 – Police Fine 115 for Defying Emergency Laws

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 115 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 68 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 23 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; 23 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving. The police have also uncovered one fact of breaching the terms of self-isolation.

10:30 GMT+4 – Ten More Coronavirus Cases Confirmed

Ten more patient have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Georgia, bringing the number of total confirmed cases to 496, StopCov.ge website has reported.

06:00 GMT+4 – Wholesale Trade in Quarantined Marneuli’s Agricultural Bazaar Resumed

Agricultural bazaar’s wholesale trade section resumed in quarantined Marneuli today, local media has reported.

Selling agricultural produce remains a key source of income for many in Marneuli municipality. On April 22, hundreds of protesters, mostly ethnic Azeri farmers, hit the streets of Shulaveri village in Marneuli Municipality protested strict quarantine regime in effect since March 23, and expressed grievance caused by inability to sell their produce.

On April 27, Georgia started lifting some of the coronavirus-related restrictions at the first stage of reopening the economy. The reopening plan will be rolled out in six different phases, each stage taking place in every two weeks, while taking into consideration the epidemiological situation in the country. For the whole period, citizens will be obliged to observe physical distancing guidelines and wear face masks in closed public spaces.

00:50 GMT+4 – One More Case Brings Total Confirmed Cases to 486

One more patient has tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Georgia, bringing the number of total confirmed cases to 486, StopCov.ge website has reported.

Sunday, April 26

23:00 GMT+4 – 2 More Georgian Nationals Die of Coronavirus Abroad

Two Georgian citizens with underlying health conditions have died of COVID-19 complications in Latvia and the United States, respectively.

Prior to this, one coronavirus-infected Georgian citizen died in France, another – in the U.S., five passed away in Spain.

Georgian Fioreign Ministry told Civil.ge that as of April 28 eleven Georgian nationals have died abroad in total.

21:25 GMT+4 – 10 More Patients Recovered; Total Recoveries Reach 149

Ten more patients have recovered from COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the number of total recoveries to 149, according to StopCov.ge website.

18:00 GMT+4 – NCDC Deputy Head: Georgia Succeeded in Averting Jump in Cases

Paata Imnadze, Deputy Head of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), stated that, according to the existing data, there was no widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the country, and that Georgia succeeded in preventing an uncontrollable rise in COVID-19 cases.

As stated by Imnadze, 822 test were carried out within the last 24 hours, 29 people testing positive for the coronavirus. On the whole, he added, 12,000 PCR and 5,000 rapid tests have been conducted since the start of the outbreak.

“We have done our utmost to avert a jump in coronavirus cases,” the deputy head noted, adding that current rate of increase was manageable by Georgia’s healthcare system. As for recent growth in cases – 20-odd cases recorded per day – he said it was caused by lax observance of regulations in many of Georgia’s rural settlements.

Deputy Head denied allegations about deliberate resistance [by state authorities] to expand testing in order to cover up undetected cases, claiming that if it were the case, “hospitals would be flooded by severe patients.”

Public health official stated that all individuals with COVID-19 symptoms (fever and pneumonia) were subject to immediate diagnosis by means of rapid or PCR tests. As for expanding testing to other high-risk groups (such as employees of grocery stores and pharmacies), Imnadze said the decision would be made “in accordance with the epidemiological situation.”

Imnadze called on the population to carry on complying with all public health recommendations despite gradual lifting of some emergency restrictions.

16:00 GMT+4 – Georgia Shuts Down Town of Tetritskaro

Georgia shuts down the town of Tetristkaro in Kvemo Kartli region, State Representative Shota Rekhviashvili told journalists. The decision comes as Georgian health authorities confirmed 12 COVID-19 cases in the town.

The first case of the novel coronavirus in Tetritskaro was confirmed to a local hospital nurse yesterday, prompting administration to place the clinic under quarantine regime.

In addition, 7 other coronavirus cases were reported in the villages of Tetristkaro Municipality, however, the shutdown measures will apply only to the municipal center so far.

According to 2014 Georgian Census, Tetritskaro Municipality is home to 21,127 people, of which 3 093 inhabitants live in the town of Tetritskaro.

Police, charged with ensuring public order and strict quarantine measures, has already set up checkpoints at the entrances of the town.

13:00 GMT+4 – 132 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 132 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 75 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 33 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; 24 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving. The police have also uncovered one fact of breaching the terms of self-isolation.

12:00 GMT+4 – Georgia Reports Sixth Coronavirus Death; Total Confirmed Cases Reach 485

Georgia has confirmed the sixth coronavirus death. The patient, an 83-year-old man had underlying health conditions, including heart failure and arrhythmia, according to Levan Ratiani, Director of the First University Clinic in Tbilisi.

StopCov.ge website reports that 29 more patients tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the country, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 485.

08:00 GMT+4 – Abkhazia Reports First Coronavirus Death

Abkhazia has reported the first coronavirus death. A 95-year-old patient, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 11, passed away in Gudauta Hospital from the virus complications. The patient refused to be hospitalized until April 20, and only gave consent to be transferred to Gudauta Hospital as her health situation significantly deteriorated. Doctor Anzhela Archelia stated that at the time of admission to the hospital the 95-year-old patient bilateral polysegmental pneumonia, pronounced hypertension and chronic renal failure. Despite getting all necessary medical care, “she died of complications, in particular, pulmonary embolism,” added Archelia.

Saturday, April 25

17:40 GMT+4 – Rate of Georgians Testing Positive For Coronavirus Drops, Despite Expanded Testing

Despite the recent spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases, a lower percentage of people are testing positive for coronavirus per one hundred tests conducted than earlier, Deputy Health Minister Tamar Gabunia has stated in a TV interview.

Test-positivity rate (a metric that shows the ratio between who got tested for the virus and who tested positive for it) amounted 2 % during a large-scale testing of high-risk groups (897 tests in total) yesterday – a decrease from the average rate of all conducted tests that stands at 4,5 %.

This proves that Georgia has avoided an “unfettered” transmission of infection so far, Deputy Minister noted.

17:35 GMT+4 – Georgia Reports 7 New Recoveries, Total Recoveries Hit 139

Seven more patients have now recovered from COVID-19, stopcov.ge, government-run website has reported. Total number of recoveries now stands at 139.

12:45 GMT+4 – Gov’t Shuts Down Three Villages in Quarantined Bolnisi Municipality Due to Contagion Risk

Three villages – Khatisopeli, Vanati and Mushevani – have been shut down and placed under strict quarantine regime in order to stem “large-scale” spread of coronavirus, the Bolnisi Municipality City Hall has stated. Police have set up checkpoints to control road traffic, while transporting of food and medicine to the quarantine zone will carry on unhindered, noted the City Hall.

Source: Bolnisi Municipality City Hall

In addition to Khatisopeli and Mushevani, following villages have already been quarantined due to high epidemiological risk – Rachisubani, Kvemo Bolnisi, Savaneti, Balichi, and Kazreti hamlet.

12:30 GMT+4 – Police Uncovered 85 Cases of Defying State of Emergency Rules

According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, 106 new cases of violating state of emergency regulations have been revealed within the last 24 hours. From 21:00 on April 24 to 06:00 on April 23, police officers fined 65 citizens for violating nighttime curfew. 20 people were fined for violating restrictions on driving and transporting passengers.

11:00 GMT+4 – 12 New Cases Take Georgia’s Total Confirmed to 456

Government-run website StopCov.ge reports that 12 more patients tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 456.

Friday, April 24

21:45 GMT+4 – 13 New Cases Take Georgia’s Total Confirmed to 444

13 more patients tested positive for the novel coronavirus, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 444, according to StopCov.ge website.

18:10 GMT+4 – 114 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 114 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 59 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 24 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; 30 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving. The police have also uncovered one fact of breaching the terms of self-isolation.

18:00 GMT+4 – 18 More Recoveries Reported

18 more patients have recovered from COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the total recoveries to 132, according to StopCov.ge website.

16:05 GMT+4 – Prime Minister Unveils Anti-Crisis Plan to Mitigate Coronavirus Fallout

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has presented an anti-crisis plan aimed at tackling social and economic challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As stated by Gakharia, GEL 3,9 billion was allocated to finance the measures prescribed by the anti-crisis plan. A total of 350,000 citizens will benefit from the targeted assistance package.

14:00 GMT+4 – Occupied Tskhinvali Lifts Some Restrictions 

Moscow-backed Tskhinvali leadership has announced to lift restrictions on markets and  beauty salons. However, they should provide disinfection and avoid mass gatherings

Meanwhile, restaurants, cafes, pools and entertainment centers remain closed.

12:00 GMT+4 – Total Confirmed Cases Increase to 431; Recoveries Rise to 114 

Government-run website StopCov.ge has reported that six more patients tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 431.

Meanwhile, three more patients have recovered, increasing the total recoveries to 114.

Thursday, April 23

23:00 GMT+4 – Five More Patients Test Positive for Coronavirus

Five more patients have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Georgia, taking total confirmed cases to 425, according to StopCov.ge website.

16:20 GMT+4 – Four More Recoveries Reported

Four more patients have recovered from COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the total recoveries to 111, according to StopCov.ge website.

13:00 GMT+4 – Members of Investors’ Council to Help Gov’t Draw up New Investment Strategy

Members of the Investors’ Council, an advisory body to the Prime Minister, are cooperating with the Cabinet to help develop a new investment strategy aimed at attracting new foreign direct investments (FDI), Georgian government’s administration has reported.

At a video-conference today chaired by Maia Tskitishvili, Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure, Council members discussed global economic trends affected by the pandemic, as well as Georgia’s economic outlook and a set of measures envisaged by the government’s plan to mitigate the crisis.

During the meeting, Council members highlighted the measures aimed at fostering economic recovery, and elaborated on steps necessary for promoting Georgia’s place amid the competitive global market.

12:20 GMT+4 – Georgia to Ramp up Testing Capacity Making 100,000 PCR Kits Available by Early May

Georgia is set to increase testing capacity for diagnosing COVID-19 by stocking up on polymerase chain reaction test kits. “At this time we have up to 10,000 PCR kits available. On Monday, we will receive additional 40,000 kits, so by early May we will have 100,000 units at our disposal,” Georgia’s Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze has stated at a briefing of the Inter-Agency Coordination Council, a government task force.

The Health Minister also updated the public on the use of rapid testing for prompt detection of the virus. “By now, 5,000 patients have been tested using rapid test kits, and another 9,000 in stock have been dispatched to hospitals countrywide,” Tikaradze noted.

12:20 GMT+4 – Police Uncovered 106 Cases of Defying State of Emergency Rules

According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, 106 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations have been revealed within the last 24 hours. From 21:00 on April 22 to 06:00 on April 23, police officers fined 54 citizens for violating nighttime curfew.

Law enforcement officers also fined two citizens for public gathering and violating physical distancing measures. Additionally, 50 people were fined for violating regulations on driving and transporting passengers.

11:00 GMT+4 – Four More Patients Test Positive for Coronavirus, Total Confirmed Rises to 420 

Four more patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 420, according to StopCov.ge website.

06:00 GMT+4 – Authorities Quarantine Village Gvankiti in Imereti Region

Georgia shuts down village Gvankiti of Terjola Municipality in western Imereti Region as the authorities confirmed 10 COVID-19 cases in the settlement.

Having 10 infected patients in a single village carries great risk of [further COVID-19 transmission], State Representative in Imereti Region Zviad Shalamberidze said.

Police have set up five checkpoints at the entry/exit points of the village, according to Shalamberidze. A group of epidemiologists from the National Center for Disease Control will shortly arrive to the village to carry out thermal screenings en masse, he added.

According to 2014 Georgian Census, Gvankiti is home to 1968 people living in 555 households.

Wednesday, April 22

19:40 GMT+4 – Total Confirmed Cases Reach 416; Recoveries Rise to 107 

Government-run website StopCov.ge has reported that five more patients tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 416.

According to the website, nine more patients has recovered, taking the total recoveries to 107.

15:40 GMT+4 – Parliament Authorizes to Extend State of Emergency

The Georgian Parliament confirmed the presidential order at an emergency sitting with 97 MPs voting in favor and ten against, clearing the way for extending a nationwide state of emergency effective until May 22.

15:10 GMT+4 – EU Proposes EUR 150 Mln to Georgia to Help the country Limit Economic Fallout of Pandemic

The European Commission announced that it has adopted a proposal for a EUR 3 billion macro-financial assistance (MFA) package to ten enlargement and neighborhood partners, including EUR 150 million for Georgia, to help the countries to limit the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

14:20 GMT+4 – Marneuli Residents Protest Quarantine Regime, Demand Help from Local Authorities to Sell Produce

Scores of local residents took to the streets of Shulaveri, a village in Marneuli municipality, to protest a strict quarantine regime imposed by the government on March 23 and demand assistance from local authorities in vending agricultural product in other parts of the country, mainly in the capital, Radio Marneuli, a local media outlet has reported.

Previously, on April 16, EMC, a local watchdog reported that Marneuli residents were protesting “humanitarian crisis” – triggered by the imposition of strict lockdown measures – by honking horns of their vehicles at 9 pm for five minutes without leaving their houses. “Their protest was incited by the practice of selling products at below the market prices, and unjustifiable price increases in grocery stores,” mentioned EMC.

12:20 GMT+4 – 102 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 102 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 56 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 10 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; 36 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

11:50 GMT+4 – Georgia Reports Fifth Coronavirus Death; 98th Patient Recovers; Total Confirmed Cases Hit 411

Georgia has confirmed the fifth coronavirus death. The patient, an 68-year-old man, who had been undergoing treatment for two weeks, died at the First University Clinic in Tbilisi.

Lali Turdzeladze, representative of the hospital told journalists at a news briefing that the deceased patient had underlying health conditions, including myocardial infarction, acute double pneumonia, consequent respiratory failure, and septic shock.

According to Turdzeladze,  pulmonary embolism led to the patient’s death, who belonged to cluster of Bolnisi, south to capital city of Tbilisi, which has been under lockdown since March 23.

StopCov.ge website reports that three more patients tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the country, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 411. In the meantime, one more patient has recovered, bringing the overall number of recoveries to 98.

Tuesday, April 21

23:00 GMT+4 – Several Municipalities Ease Restrictions on Driving to Allow ‘Essential’ Agricultural Work

From 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., driving private vehicles will be allowed in order to carry out ”essential” agricultural work in several Georgian municipalities, including TelaviSagarejoGurjaaniAkhmetaDedoplistskaroKvareliSighnaghi, and Kaspi. The measure is effective from April 22 until April 27, when the nationwide driving ban is set to expire.

“While travelling by car, all passengers must observe the Health Ministry recommendations (no more than 3 persons allowed in a single vehicle, all passengers must be wearing face masks),” City Halls of the said municipalities have stated.

21:00 GMT+4 – First Patient Recovers from Coronavirus in Occupied Abkhazia

First patient infected with COVID-19 has now recovered from the disease, RIA News, a Russian media outlet has reported. The recovered patient is a resident of the city of Gagra, where he/she contracted the virus from a family member, Abkhazia’s “patient zero.”

According to the source, Abkhaz authorities have registered three cases of coronavirus so far.

19:10 GMT+4 – 2 More Patients Recovered

StopCov.ge website has reported that two more patients recovered from the novel coronavirus in Georgia, taking the number of total recoveries to 97.

18:05 GMT+4 – President Zurabishvili Signs the Decree, Extends Emergency until May 22

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili addressed the nation on the state of emergency. The President signed the decree, extending nationwide coronavirus emergency until May 22.

17:00 GMT+4 – Georgia Extends State of Emergency until May 22

Georgian Government’s Spokesperson Irakli Chikovani announced at news briefing on April 21 that Georgia will extend state of emergency until May 22.

Georgia first announced the novel coronavirus state of emergency on March 21 effective for one month period.

Prime Minister Gakharia will now address President Zurabishvili to sign a relevant decree and proceed it to the Parliament for approval.

The government also extends nationwide ban on driving private vehicles until April 27.

Spokesperson Chikovani said that Georgian Government intends to gradually lift some restrictions throughout the extended period of state of emergency.

Chikovani noted that on Friday, April 24, the government will unveil a set of anti-crisis measures that should help the country recover from pandemic lockdown. “The anti-crisis plan will be comprised of two stages,” noted Chikovani, adding that it will include steps for targeted social assistance, as well as measures to help businesses recover from the crisis.

In addition, on April 24, the government will uncover the plan to gradually re-open the economy, stated Chikovani.

12:15 GMT+4 – 182 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 182 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 78 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 66 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; 38 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

12:00 GMT+7 – Total Confirmed Cases Increase to 408

StopCov.ge has reported that six new patients tested positive for COVID-19, increasing the number of total confirmed cases to 408.

Monday, April 20

19:45 GMT+4 – Three More Patients Test Positive for COVID-19, Two More Persons Recover

StopCov.ge website has reported that three more patients tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the country, taking Georgia’s total confirmed cases to 402. In the meantime, two patients have recovered from COVID-19, taking the number of recoveries to 95.

14:30 GMT+4 – Georgian PM, EU Commission President Hold Video Talk

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen held video conference, discussing the measures taken against the novel coronavirus, including joint efforts by Georgia and the EU to tackle the virus.

The Government’s Press Office said the President of the European Commission “praised” Georgia’s steps aimed at combating COVID-19.

Prime Minister Gakharia thanked the President of the European Commission for “a significant financial support of the EU.”

On April 8, the European Commission allocated funds worth up to EUR 183 million to help Georgia meet “the most immediate needs” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Georgian Prime Minister and the Head of the European Commission also discussed recent developments in Georgia’s Russian occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia.

“Prime Minister spoke [with Ursula von der Leyen] in detail about the grave conditions [in Abkhazia, Tskhinvali] and noted that when the entire world is fighting with the pandemic, occupation forces continue their so-called borderization process,” said the Government’s Press Office.

Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani and Government’s Spokesperson Irakli Chikovani also attended the video talk.

12:45 GMT+4 – 139 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 139 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 85 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 19 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; 35 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

11:00 GMT+7 – Total Confirmed Cases Hit 399

StopCov.ge has reported that five new patients tested positive for COVID-19, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 399. The number of active cases recorded in the country stands at 302.

01:00 GMT+4 – Abkhazia Lifts Some Coronavirus Measures, while Extends Number of Restrictions

Moscow-backed acting leader of Abkhazia Valery Bganba signed a decree on April 17, lifting some of the measures against the new coronavirus, while extending number of other restrictions until May 1.

The decree abolishes nighttime curfew in westernmost Gagra district and easternmost ethnic Georgian majority Gali district from April 20.

Agricultural markets in Sokhumi and other districts of the region are set to open from April 20, albeit with some restrictions. The bazaars are allowed to work no more than three days per week.

In the meantime, the decree extends movement restrictions on Psou crossing point, the only land connection between Russia and occupied Abkhazia, until May 1.

The ban on holding cultural, sports, entertainment, wedding and gala events is also extended until May 1.

The decree extends vacations in kindergartens, schools and higher education institutions until May 4.

Sunday, April 19

21:33 GMT+4 – One More Recovery Reported

StopCov.ge has reported the recovery of 93rd coronavirus patient in Georgia.

21:25 GMT+4 – 5 More Patients Recovered

StopCov.ge website has reported that five more patients recovered from the novel coronavirus in Georgia, taking the number of total recoveries to 92.

21:00 GMT+4 – 87th Patient Recovers in Georgia

StopCov.ge website has reported that 87th patient has recovered from COVID-19 in Georgia.

13:20 GMT+4 – 230 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 167 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 71 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 68 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; 91 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

13:00 GMT+4 – Gali Resident Recovered, Discharged from Hospital

Resident of Abkhazia’s Gali district, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tbilisi-controlled territory on March 30, recovered from the disease. The patient was discharged from Zugdidi Hospital for Infecious Diseases on Sunday around 13:00, the Hospital’s PR Office told Civil.ge.  The patient will now undergo two weeks long self-isolation in quarantine in Anaklia, Black Sea coastal town, adjacent to Moscow-backed Abkhazia.

12:05 GMT+4 – Six New Cases Take Total Confirmed to 394

StopCov.ge has reported six new cases of the novel coronavirus in Georgia, taking total number of confirmed cases to 394. With 86 recoveries and 4 death reported, the number of active cases stands at 304. In addition, three Georgian nationals who tested positive for COVID-19 abroad, were transferred to Georgia for treatment.

Saturday, April 18

22:54 GMT+4 – Three More Patients Test Positive for COVID-19, Two More Patients Recover

Government-run StopCov.ge website has reported that three more patients tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the country, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 388. In the meantime, two more patients have recovered, bringing the overall number of recoveries to 86.

21:50 GMT+4 – Georgia Reports Fourth Coronavirus Death

Georgia has confirmed the fourth coronavirus death. Levan Antadze, Regional Director of Medalpha Hospital’s Adjara and Guria branches, told journalists in Batumi, Adjara region that the deceased patient, above 70, had underlying health conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular condition. The patient belonged to cluster of Kobuleti, the location of Adjara’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

14:00 GMT+4 – Police Fine 321 People for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 321 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 85 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 140 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; 96 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

12:35 GMT+4 – Georgia Receives 20,000 PCR Tests from South Korea

Georgian Health Ministry has received 20,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits from South Korea. According to Deputy Foreign and Health Ministers, Alexandre Ghvtisiashvili and Giorgi Tsotskolauri, respectively, the tests were purchased with support of the Georgian Embassy to Korea and the Bank of Georgia.

11:20 GMT+4 – Georgia Reports 15 New Cases; 5 More Recoveries 

According to StopCov.ge, 15 new patients have tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 385. Meanwhile, five more patient recovered, increasing the number of recoveries in Georgia to 84.

Friday, April 17

21:15 GMT+4 – President Zurabishvili Urges Everyone to Stay at Home

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili addressed the nation a day before the Easter Eve, appealing to the public to “stay at home” and abide by the state of emergency regulations.

President Zurabishvili underlined, that “there is no time for restfulness and complacency,” and that “on the contrary, a critical phase of internal transmission will start shortly, which will lead to drastic surge in the number of cases, and may spell significant increase of death toll.”

Speaking of forthcoming Easter holiday, the President stated that she – as the guarantor of the 2002 constitutional agreement between Georgian state and the Georgian Orthodox Church – recognized that “the Church should conduct religious service, even in an altered way in some cases.”

“those of us staying at home may join the worship from our houses and by this – strengthen our unity and solidarity. i am certain, that by means of joint efforts, the law will remain the law and, as we had hitherto managed to overcome the crisis, we will be able to tackle the tough days of tomorrow,” noted the president.

18:40 GMT+4 – U.S. Increases Financial Aid by USD 600,000 to Help Georgia Tackle Coronavirus 

The United States has expanded its financial aid to Georgia by USD 600, 000 to help the country handle the coronavirus pandemic. On the whole, the U.S. Government has committed USD 1,7 million in emergency health assistance via USAID “to support Georgia’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to help the individuals and communities who are most at risk”, according to the U.S. Embassy to Georgia.

USAID/Georgia announced that financial support will “help control and prevent infection and identify cases of the virus.” “We are proud to partner with the Government of Georgia, local health professionals and civil society organizations, and international organizations to help people stay healthy and stay safe,” USAID/Georgia wrote on its Facebook page.

Earlier, In late March, the United States allocated financial aid worth USD 1.1 million to Georgia to prepare laboratory systems, and activate case-finding and event-based surveillance.

16:20 GMT+4 – Number of Recovered Rises to 79

According to the government-run website stopcov.ge, two more recoveries from the virus have been recorded today, raising the total number of recoveries to 79.

16:00 GMT+4 – City of Bolnisi and a Village Placed under Lockdown Due to High Risk of Contagion

Bolnisi Municipality City Hall has announced that, due to high risk of contagion, the city of Bolnisi and Rachisubani, a village, will put under lockdown and quarantined.

According to the City Hall, the decision was made to prevent large-scale spread of the virus.

Checkpoints will be set up near the boundaries of the city and the village, which will be patrolled by the police force. Transportation of food and medication to the quarantine zone will go unhindered,” reads the statement released by city’s administration.

Source: Facebook Page of Bolnisi Municipality City Hall

In addition to Bolnisi and Rachisubani, other administrative units of the municipality – including Kvemo Bolnisi, Savaneti, Balichi and Kazreti, have also been quarantined.

14:00 GMT+4 – 167 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 167 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 74 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 89 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; four citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

10:20 GMT+4 – Georgia Reports 22 More New Cases; 1 More Recovery 

According to StopCov.ge, 22 new patients have tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 370. Meanwhile, one more patient has recovered, increasing the number of recoveries in Georgia to 77.

Thursday, April 16

23:30 GMT+4 – Movement Restricted in town of Kazreti, village Balichi in Quarantined Bolnisi Municipality

Georgian Interior Ministry has reported that movement has been restricted in mining town of Kazreti and Balichi village in quarantined Bolnisi municipality. Police checkpoints have been also set up at the entrances of the two settlements. The decision to tighten quarantine regime in the two places was taken by the interagency coordination council of the Georgian government, citing high epidemiological risks behind the decision.

Together with Marneuli Municipality, Bolnisi Municipality has been under lockdown since March 23, following Georgian health authorities’ failure to identify the source of COVID-19 infection in the region. The two municipalities that lie south to the capital city of Tbilisi are home to approximately 160,000 inhabitants.

21:05 GMT+4 – Eight More New Cases Take Total to 348

Government-run website StopCov.ge has reported eight new cases of COVID-19 in Georgia, taking total to 348.

21:00 GMT+4 – Gov’t Bans Driving Private Vehicles Starting from Tomorrow, 12:00, until April 21

The Georgian government has announced a nationwide ban on cars and other private vehicles starting from tomorrow, 12 am, until April 21. The decision was made to mitigate “the active stage of the virus spread” in Georgia, and due to “intensive traffic” despite restrictions, Irakli Chikovani, Prime Minister’s spokesperson announced at a briefing today.

The government’s spokesperson predicted “significant rise” of cases in the following weeks. Chikovani reiterated government’s appeal to citizens to “stay at home”.

According to the spokesperson, the ban includes private vehicles and excludes freight transport vehicles and delivery cars.

Chikovani underlined that “grocery stores, pharmacies, and all other [essential] stores would carry on functioning as previously, in addition to delivery services.”

The spokesperson noted that companies authorized to resume operations should obtain a license from relevant Ministries to ensure transportation of their employees.

Starting from tomorrow, wearing face masks will be mandatory inside all buildings open to the public. Legal persons that fail to enforce the said regulation will incur a GEL 15,000 fine.

Public cemeteries will also be shut down from tomorrow, Chikovani added.

Chikovani warned that, unless entire society rallied round in a crisis to observe state of emergency restrictions, the government might have to beef up lockdown measures by imposing “complete quarantine.”

Amiran Gamkrelidze, head of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), who also attended the briefing, pleaded with the population to refrain from mass gatherings and stay at home during Easter celebrations.

Paata Imnadze, deputy head of NCDC, stressed that “any mass gathering today constituted a threat.” “I entreat you all to adhere to the new regulations, strictly observe them, and by this save life and health of our loved ones,” said Imnadze.

19:45 GMT+4 – Four More New Cases; Two More Recoveries Reported

According to StopCov.ge, four new patients have tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 340. According to website, two more patients have recovered, taking the number of recoveries in Georgia to 76.

17:40 GMT+4 – UNDP, EU Team up to Help Abkhazia with Protective Medical Equipment

Sokhumi-based media outlet ApsnyPress has reported that United Nations Development Program (UNDP) delivered protective medical gear, financed by the European Union, to Moscow-backed Abkhazia. The equipment includes 4,300 respiratory masks, 1,000 protective suits, 110 protective shields, 11,000 pairs of nitrile gloves, 1,300 liters of antiseptic liquids for medical use, as well as 188 liters of liquid soap, ApsnyPress noted. This is the third batch of medical aid, amounting to EUR 40,000, that was delivered by the UNDP in Georgia Mission to Abkhazia since the coronavirus outbreak.

As of April 16, Abkhazia has confirmed three cases of the novel coronavirus in the region. One more Abkhazia resident, an ethnic Georgian from Gali district was diagnosed with COVID-19 in Georgia proper.

14:20 GMT+4 – 234 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 234 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 92 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 125 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; four citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; 13 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

13:50 GMT+4 – Health Ministry Launches App to Help Prevent, Reveal New Cases of COVID-19 

STOP COVID mobile application has been launched with the purpose of early detection and prevention of the novel coronavirus, according to the Georgian government’s press office.

Reportedly, the application, which is available for iOS and Android users, notifies users if they were in contact with infected individuals.

To download the application, iOS users must search for STOP COVID in the App Store, while Android users will be able to download it from Google Play using the name NOVID20.

Additional download links can be found on the website of the Health Ministry, as well as on the governmnent-run StopCov.ge.

The application does not require registration after installation, therefore, no user data is needed. It instead assigns each user a unique ID, through which it determines the user’s social contacts.

10:20 GMT+4 – 30 More New Cases; 3 More Recoveries Reported

StopCov.ge has reported that 30 new patients have tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 336. According to website, three more patients have recovered, taking the number of recoveries in Georgia to 74.

Wednesday, April 15

21:30 GMT+4 – Gov’t Spokesperson: GOC Parishioners Allowed to Attend Easter Vigil with Some Restrictions

Parishioners of the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) will be allowed to attend dusk-to-down Easter Vigil in church houses, albeit with some restrictions, Irakli Chikovani, Prime Minister’s spokesperson has announced at an emergency briefing. “We made a joint decision with the Church so that law will not be violated and churches will not be shut down [during Easter service],” Chikovani noted.

The spokesperson added that parishioners will be able to attend service in large churches (cathedrals), provided that they observe the two-meter physical distancing advice, while only clergymen and lay assistants of the clergy will be allowed to enter smaller, less spacious church houses.

Chikovani stressed, that police officers will patrol church surroundings to enforce strict observance of all public health regulations, including physical distancing on Easter Eve. The spokesperson reiterated that all citizens are obliged to obey the nighttime curfew (effective from 9 pm to 6 am), implying that parishioners attending Easter Vigil must not leave church premises until daybreak.

According to the spokesperson, starting from April 17, all public cemeteries located in cities will be shut down effective until April 27.

Andria Jagmaidze, GOC’s spokesperson, stated that, in the aftermath of deliberations, the Church had come to an agreement with the government. He added that the Church took all precautionary measures not to suspend traditional Easter service, while complying with all public health recommendations.

As for smaller churches, parishioners will remain in the churchyard, outside the building, Jagmaidze noted. According to GOC’s spokesperson, some clergymen will conduct Easter Vigil in the morning as well, in order to avert flux of worshipers during the same period. He also advised parishioners against sharing Easter feasts to avoid mass gatherings.

21:25 GMT+4 – Quarantine Regime Tightened in Bolnisi’s Savaneti Village

Citing to high epidemiological risks as the reason behind the decision, Georgian government introduces strict quarantine regime in Savaneti village of Bolnisi Municipality.

Together with Marneuli Municipality, Bolnisi Municipality has been in lockdown since March 23, as the Georgian health officials could not identify source of the COVID-19 infection in the region.

Ministry of Interior is charged with enforcing strict quarantine restrictions in the village. Checkpoints have been set up in the entrances of the village.

19:45 GMT+4 – Two More Patients Recover; Recoveries Hit 71;

According to StopCov.ge website, two more COVID-19 patients have recovered in Georgia, bringing the number of recoveries to 71.

17:40 GMT+4 – Georgian President Holds Video Talks with Armenian, Azerbaijani Presidents

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has held separate video talks with her Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts, Armen Sarkissian and Ilham Aliyev, respectively.

According to President Zurabishvili, “in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, regional solidarity is needed.” “Solidarity will get us through this, and will help us move forward when we defeat this virus,” she tweeted. Zurabishvili also noted that regional solidarity [among the South Caucasus countries]”will be key in overcoming this difficult time.”

Meanwhile, last night, the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku was lit up in the colors of the Georgian flag, a gesture that, Salome Zurabishvili noted, is “great show of solidarity from the people of Azerbaijan.”

16:00 GMT+4 – Think Tank Assesses Coronavirus Impact on Food Supply Chain in Georgia

The International School of Economics (ISET), a Tbilisi-based economic policy think tank, has published an assessment of food supply chains in Georgia gauging the scale of the disruption triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The think tank notes that, since the outset of the outbreak, the Inter-Agency Coordination Council, a government task force, tasked the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA) to take charge of managing food stocks and supervising food logistics and transportation. In the framework of crisis management strategy, the government allocated GEL 10 mln from the MEPA budget to subsidize businesses and cap the prices of nine essential products – rice, pasta, buckwheat, vegetable oil, sugar, wheat, wheat flour, milk powder products, and beans – for the period of March 15-May 15. The government announced it would spend additional GEL 16 mln to stock up on sugar (5,000 tons), vegetable oil (1,500 thousand liters), and pasta (500 tons) for emergencies.

According to ISET, Georgia remains “highly dependent” on imports for most food categories, which renders the country especially vulnerable due to increased risks of price shocks. The think tank singles out most pressing challenges, such as potential contraction of consumption caused by the reduction of household’s disposable incomes. Large portion of food demand in Georgia stems from restaurants and hotels that are currently shut down, which will further drag the overall demand down, ISET reckons. “The biggest concern in food value chains are raised by logistical problems related to food transportation,” it says.

ISET draws attention to the fact that, facing high food prices, many governments will decide to “protect their consumers” by imposing export restrictions, amping up pressure on prices. This may cause harm to Georgia’s import-dependent food market, ISET claims.

Even in light of potential export restrictions, Georgian government’s policy of price controls will “temporarily protect” Georgian consumers from further increase in wheat and sugar prices, “particularly from the price rise related to the weakening of the national currency,” reads the report. As for the milk and dairy products market, ISET highlights two contradictory effects – increased import prices due to Lari depreciation, and decreased demand for milk powder products. The final impact hinges on the scale of change for each effect, the think tank says. It further predicts, that where the domestic production of milk high enough, prices of milk products would not rise.

Concerning meat market, ISET underlines its relative low self-sufficiency ratio, hence high import dependency. As stated by the report, since meat does not fall into the price control list, its import price is expected to rise, leading to an overall increase in supply. The think tanks forecasts that the new equilibrium price and quantity will depend on the “magnitude of changes” in supply and demand.

Similarly, Georgia is strongly dependent on importing fruits and vegetables, which may be affected as major import market – Turkey – might experience excessive food price increases, ISET notes. “It is difficult o predict the directon of prices of fruits and vegetables as key products there might be an increase in import prices of these goods,”  says the think tank.

With regard to vegetable oils, several factors, including scale of Lari’s depreciation, will determine the price in the aftermath of the crisis.

Concluding the report, ISET called on the Georgian government to take further actions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic:

  • encourage cultivation of essential agricultural products on not-cultivated land plots;
  • elaborate on the design of existing agricultural programs (e.g. “Produce in Georgia”) by prioritizing products with import substitution potential;
  • pursue the policy of diversification of import and export markets;
  • join efforts with other stakeholders to ensure adequate enforcement of price caps imposed by the government.

14:30 GMT+4 – Govt Spokesperson Names Exceptions to Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Rustavi Shut Down

Prime Minister’s spokesperson Irakli Chikovani has announced at a news briefing today that, amid the closure of the country’s four largest cities – the capital city of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi and Rustavi, only registered residents will be allowed to enter those cities. Citizens registered elsewhere (in other municipalities) will be permitted to leave the said cities.

According to Chikovani, following entities will be exempt from the ban:

  • Employees of medical facilities while on duty;

  •  International and local freight transportation;

  • Representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia, given their official business;

  • Transfer of charged suspects and convicts;

  • Collection and secure transportation of cash, precious metals, and other valuables;

  • Provision of electricity, natural gas, or water supplies;

  • Provision of services related to telecommunications, postage, or waste management;

  • Railway traffic, related to technical transportation only;

  • Media representatives with the purpose of carrying out journalistic activities;

  • Provision of ritual services – transporting or burying of the deceased;

  • International organizations for humanitarian purposes;

  • Provision of private security;

  • Employees of those public institutions, the activities of which are of critical importance during the state of emergency;

  • Legal entities carrying out economic activities, whose movement is of critical importance while performing official duties under the state of emergency.

Irakli Chikovani reiterated to the public that during the state of emergency, while going out, it is essential for citizens to produce proof of identity (passport/ID) when required so by the police.

14:20 GMT+4 – Anti-Crisis Economic Group Established under Govt ad hoc Task Force

An Anti-Crisis Economic Group was established under the Prime Minister-led ad hoc task force group, which will be convening regularly via video conferencing.

According to the government press office, the group will include Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze, Sector Economy and Economic Policy Committee Chairman Roman Kakulia, Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Irakli Kovzanadze, European Integration Committee Chairman Davit Songhulashvili, Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee Chairperson Nino Tsilosani, Agrarian Issues Committee Chairman Otar Danelia, National Bank President Koba Gvenetadze, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, Business Ombudsman Mikheil Daushvili, Prime Ministerial Advisors Sozar Subari and Beka Liluashvili, Investors’ Council Secretary Giorgi Cherkezishvili; as well as members of President Salome Zurabishvili’s administration and Ministers of the government’s economic team.

14:00 GMT+4 – Police Fine 198 People for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry have revealed 198 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 90 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 91citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; 17 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

11:25 GMT+4 – Cemeteries in Kutaisi, Zestaponi Municipality to be Shut Down During Easter Celebrations

Shalva Shalamberidze, State Representative of Imereti region in western Georgia stated that 13 cemeteries in Kutaisi and three cemeteries in Zestaponi municipality will be closed during the Easter celebrations. Shalamberidze could not yet specify the date of closure, but he said the cemeteries will be supposedly closed for three days to avoid large public gatherings amid the coronavirus.

Along with the capital city of Tbilisi, Batumi and Rustavi, Kutaisi is among the four largest cities, that will be shut down for 10 days effective from April 15, 21:00. Entering or leaving the city will be restricted, however movement within the city, both by foot and cars, will still be possible, except for curfew between 21:00 and 06:00.

11:00 GMT+4 – Total Confirmed Cases Hit 306

Government-run website StopCov.ge reports that ten more patients tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 306.

10:30 GMT+4 – Tbilisi Mayor Calls on Citizens, Parishioners to Stay Home 

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze has called on the citizens in a video address this morning to stay home, avoid public gathering and maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. He separately called on the parishioners “to pray for the health and lives of others” from their homes amid the upcoming dusk-to-dawn Easter Vigil.

“Today, as never before, we need to stand together,“ Kaladze said, adding that a parishioner also has “a spiritual mission” to take care of a fellow parishioner. Staying home would strengthen their faith, rather than cause ordeal, he stated.

Noting that COVID-19 is “a serious problem” for the entire world, Tbilisi Mayor said, everyone should follow the state of emergency and curfew regulations – which according to him apply to everyone, with no exceptions – so that Georgia could manage to overcome “the deadly enemy” as soon as possible.

Tuesday, April 14

22:30 GMT+4 – Georgian Speaker Holds Phone Talk with Armenian, Azerbaijani Counterparts

Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze held separate phone talks with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts, Ararat Mirzoyan and Sahiba Gafarova, respectively. During the conversation, the speakers spoke about the situation in their respective countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the steps aimed to halt further spread of the virus.

17:05 GMT+4 – Georgia Shuts Down Four Largest Cities

Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has announced that the government will shut down the country’s four largest cities – the capital city of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi and Rustavi – for 10 days effective from April 15, 21:00. Entering and leaving these cities will be banned.

Urging the citizens to show civic responsibility and observe the state of emergency regulations to the letter during the next three or four weeks, PM Gakharia said the government the government would start easing restrictions in mid-May.

Gakharia referred to the recent talks between the government and the Patriarchate over conducting dusk-to-dawn Easter Vigil on April 18-19, which runs counter to the state of emergency rules and the nighttime curfew.

According to the Prime Minister,  the church houses will not be shut down, especially during the Easter night. He expressed hope that the faithful would not leave their homes during the curfew in order attend the Easter service. Gakharia added that cemeteries might also be shut down for Easter  to avoid public gatherings, especially in large cities.

PM Gakharia touched upon the international financial assistance allocated to help the country. Georgia will be the first country to receive an additional USD 447 million package over the course of one year from the International Monetary Fund, he noted.

PM Gakharia also said that Georgia’s international partners – including the European Union, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the German Development Bank and the French Development Agency – would support the Georgian economy “by injecting USD 1.5 billion until the end of the year.”

16:30 GMT+4 – State Security Service Employee Guarding Patriarchate Tests Positive for Coronavirus

A security guard at the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church, who is employed by the State Security Service, has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. The guard did not come into contact with other Patriarchate employees in the interior of the building, as his patrolling site was restricted to the entrance, Andria Jagmaidze, GOC’s spokesperson stated at a briefing.

According to Jagmaidze, two other employees, coworkers of the infected person, had also been tested, but the infection was not confirmed in their cases.

Jagmaidze also spoke of the infected priest, noting that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 two days ago. The infected priest conducted Annunciation service on April 7 “observing all necessary rules,” Patriarchate’s spokesperson said. As stated by Jagmaidze, the said priest fell ill after the service and consulted doctors, after which he was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

“On the following day, he held church service, but there were no parishioners present,” Jagmaidze added. He said that health professionals were tracing the contacts of the priest, and that all clergymen [who had come into contact with the priest] had gone into self-isolation.

The church itself, where the priest was serving, would be disinfected, Jagmaidze noted. “The church house is now closed and placed under quarantine. It will take several days to disinfect the premises. After that, another priest will take over the church service,” stated the spokesperson.

11:50 GMT+4 – 69th Patient Recovers in Georgia

StopCov.ge website has reported that 69th patient has recovered from COVID-19 in Georgia.

11:45 GMT+4 – Tbilisi-based Georgian Orthodox Priest Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Maia Sologashvili, chairman of supervisors’ board of Tbilisi’s Bochorishvili Clinic, one of the medical facilities charged with managing the COVID-19 outbreak in Georgia, told journalists that a Georgian orthodox priest tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday.

Two other members of the priest’s family, including sister that serves as medical worker in one of the Tbilisi hospitals, have also been infected.

The source of infection remains unclear, said Sologashvili.

11:30 GMT+4 – 199 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 199 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 106 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 63 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; six persons and two legal entities – for violating restrictions in the sphere of business activities; two citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; twenty citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

11:00 GMT+4 – Total Confirmed Cases Increase to 296 

24 more patients tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 296, the government-run website StopCov.ge reports.

Monday, April 13

21:10 GMT+4 – PM, Health Minister, NCDC Chief Attend Vesper at Patriarchy

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, accompanied with Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze and NCDC Chief Amiran Gamkrelidze finished their visit with the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, Georgian media reported.

The two-hour long visit comes some five days ahead of dusk-to-dawn Easter Vigil on April 18-19, that Georgian Orthodox Church vowed will go as planned despite the state of emergency and curfew between 21:00 – 06:00.

Georgian emergency laws ban gathering of more than three people in public, yet the orthodox churches stayed open throughout the pandemic, including on Palm Sunday, celebrated April 12. During the curfew, citizens shall stay home, and no movement is allowed without special permit. If the Easter celebrations go as planned, the faithful and the Church will be in violation of both provisions.

Archdeacon Demetre Davitashvili announced after Palm Sunday Service in Tbilisi’s Holy Trinity Cathedral that the Easter Vigil in the country’s largest Cathedral will commence on 22:00, that will be led by Patriarch Ilia II, 87, who will join the service at 23:00.

NCDC chief Amiran Gamkrelidze told InterPressNews, Georgian media outlet, that with the Patriarch Ilia II the Georgian officials discussed “not only the [issue of] Easter Liturgy, but an epidemiological situation in Georgia and in the World.”

The officials did not comment further. NCDC chief said statement “might” be made tomorrow.

Earlier, President Zurabishvili, PM Gakharia, Health Minister Tikaradze, Deputy PM Tskitishvili and Economy Minister Turnava said they will not attend the Easter Service at church, but would follow the liturgy on TV, from home. It is unclear, whether and how the state will act if the Georgian Orthodox Church goes ahead with its plans to violate the imposed restrictions. Many medics, and some clergymen have warned of the danger of a potential viral explosion.

20:25 GMT+4 – Total Confirmed Cases Reach 272; Recoveries Rise to 68 

Government-run website StopCov.ge has reported that six more patients tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the number of total confirmed cases to 272.

According to the website, one more patient has recovered, taking the total recoveries to 68.

18:30 GMT+4 – The Government Launches Abkhaz Version of StopCov.ge Website

The government-run website StopCov.ge, that aims at helping in prevention of coronavirus spread in Georgia, was launched today in Abkhaz language. Besides Georgian and Abkhaz, the website is also available in English, Azerbaijani and Armenian languages. Ossetian language version is expected to be added soon to the website.

18:00 GMT+4 – A Village in Khashuri Municipality Placed Under Strict Quarantine

The Georgian government has quarantined Khidiskuri village, part of Khashuri municipality in Shida Kartli region (situated to the northwest of Tbilisi), as two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the village. In addition to restrictions enacted by the state of emergency decree, following regulations will come into force in Khidiskuri:

  • entering and leaving the village will be banned;
  • Police force of the Ministry of Internal Affairs will ensure the implementation and observance of quarantine restrictions;
  • Village residents can only leave their homes in case of emergency;
  • Locals will be allowed to carry out farmwork in accordance with the recommendations issued by the Ministry of Health;
  • Among the media outlets, only journalists of the Georgian Public Broadcaster will be permitted to operate in the village.

17:30 GMT+4 – 104 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry have revealed 104 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 73 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 16 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; four persons – for violating restrictions in the sphere of business activities; two citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; nine citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

17:00 GMT+4 – Russian Military Sets up Field Hospital in Occupied Abkhazia

Russian soldiers have set up a field hospital at a military base in occupied Abkhazia, ApsnyPress, a local news agency has reported. According to ApsnyPress, the 200-bed hospital is equipped with “modern medical appliances,” including mechanical ventilators, breathing machines for patients with respiratory complications.

As stated by the source, the commander of Russian troops in the South-Eastern Military District, colonel general Alexander Dvornikov has ordered forming reserve units for carrying out disinfection of designated facilities and equipment.

16:00 GMT+4 – Seventh Georgian National Dies of Coronavirus Abroad

A Georgian citizen, born in 1965, has died of COVID-19 in Barcelona, Spain, Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani stated at a news briefing after the Inter-Agency Coordination Council today. Prior to this, one coronavirus- infected Georgian citizen died in France, another – in the U.S., and other four passed away in Spain.

11:30 GMT+4 – Nine New Cases Increase Total Confirmed Cases to 266

Nine more patients tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Georgia, increasing the total confirmed cases to 266, according to StopCov.ge website.

Sunday, April 12

21:25 GMT+4 – Total Confirmed Cases Rise to 257

According to StopCov.ge website, five more patients tested positive for COVID-19, increasing Georgia’s total confirmed cases to 257.

19:25 GMT+4 – Four More Patients Recovered; Recoveries Reach 67

According to StopCov.ge website, four more COVID-19 patients have recovered, bringing the number of total recoveries to 67.

12:55 GMT+4 – Police Fine 178 People for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry have revealed 139 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 94 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 60 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; five citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; 19 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

12:10 GMT+4 – Govt Shuts Down Seven Villages in Kobuleti Municipality in Adjara Region

Following Inter-Agency Coordination Council, Irakli Chikovani, Prime Minister’s spokesperson has announced about the government’s decision to toughen coronavirus quarantine regime in the rural communities of Gvara, Kvemo Kondidi, Mukhaestate, Legva, Skura, Tskhrapona and Tskavroka of Kobuleti Municipality in the Black Sea region of Adjara.

Chikovani said the authorities have already started thermal screenings of the residents.

The additional restrictions, affecting around 7,630 people, include:

  • Entering and leaving the said villages will be banned;
  • The residents will be allowed to leave their houses only for essential reasons;
  • Only the Georgian Public Broadcaster will be allowed to operate in the villages put under lockdown; GPB will provide the other media outlets with relevant materials;

Kobuleti municipality is the location of Adjara’s worst coronavirus outbreak. As of April 12 afternoon, the number of total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Adjara region stands at 25, of which 20 were recorded in Kobuleti Municipality, health authorities of Adjara Autonomous Republic told Civil.ge

11:05 GMT+4 – Total Confirmed Cases Increase to 252; Recoveries Hit 63

According to StopCov.ge website, ten more patients tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total confirmed cases to 252. Meanwhile, three more patients, who were diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered, increasing total number of recoveries to 63.

10:00 GMT+4 – Georgian Orthodox Churches Full for Palm Sunday Service Despite Emergency Laws

Georgian Orthodox Churches have been full today for Palm Sunday service, defying state of emergency laws. Georgian government imposed nation-wide quarantine over coronavirus in late March, banning among others gathering of more than three people.

Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi during Palm Sunday Service. Photo: Screengrab from Georgian Public Broadcaster’s livestream.
Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch Ilia II addressing parishioners of Tbilisi’s Holy Trinity Cathedral on Palm Sunday. April 12, 2020. Screengrab from Georgian Public Broadcaster livestream.

Saturday, April 11

20:25 GMT+4 – Three More Patients Recover, Recoveries Hit 60

Three more patients diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered, government-run website stopcov.ge has reported. The total number of recoveries has now increased to 60.

20:05 GMT+4 – One More Patient Recovers

StopCov.ge website has reported that one more patient has recovered from COVID-19 in Georgia, bringing the total number of recoveries to 57.

19:55 GMT+4 – 9 New Cases Bring Confirmed Cases to 242

According to StopCov.ge website, nine patients tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total confirmed cases to 242.

19:07 GMT+4 – Abkhazia Confirms Third Coronavirus Case

Georgia’s Moscow-backed Abkhazia region confirms the third case of the novel coronavirus. The third patient, born in 1925, has contracted the disease from the region’s first two COVID-19 patients. Abkhaz health authorities noted that the patient, resident of western town of Gagra, undergoes self-isolation and remains under the control of medical workers.

14:30 GMT+4 – 139 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry have revealed 139 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 59 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 55 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; one legal entity – for violating restrictions in the sphere of business activities; five citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; 19 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

11:00 GMT+4 – Two More Patients Recovered, Total Recoveries Reach 56;

Government-run website StopCov.ge has reported that two more patients have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the number of total recoveries to 56.

Friday, April 10

22:00 GMT+4 – Tskhinvali Prolongs Restrictions on Roki Crossing-Point with Russia Until May 1

Moscow-backed leadership of Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia announced today that Roki crossing-point connecting the region with the Russian Federation will be closed until May 1.

Initially, occupied Tskhinvali had closed the crossing-point on April 2 “until further notice.”

Meanwhile, amid the “worsened epidemiological situation,” the region’s leader Anatoly Bibilov prolonged restrictions on public movement and transportation in Tskhinvali from April 13 to April 20 as well.

19:30 GMT+4 – Government to Shut Down Lentekhi Municipality

Georgian government is shutting down Lentekhi Municipality of Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti region to carry out more “active preventive measures” against the COVID-19, Prime Minister’s Spokesperson Irakli Chikovani announced at a special news briefing today.

According to Chikovani, the said measure comes as Georgian authorities confirmed four cases of COVID-19 community transmission in the municipality.

In a bid to halt further community transmission of the virus, entering and exiting Lentekhi Municipality will be forbidden; freedom of movement will be restricted within the municipality except for grocery and pharmacy shopping, as well as performing some agricultural works.

According to Georgian 2014 Census, Lentekhi Municipality, covering historic lower Svaneti province, is home to 4,386 persons, of which 3,439 are residents of the rural communities.

19:00 GMT+4 – Four New Cases Bring Georgia’s Total to 234

Four more patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in the country, increasing its total confirmed cases to 234, according to the StopCov.ge website.

14:40 GMT+4 – Sokhumi Extends Restrictions until April 20

Moscow-backed acting Abkhaz leader Valery Bganba has signed a decree, extending the state of emergency restrictions until April 20.

The decree envisages prolongation of the following restrictions until April 20: public and private organizations to limit the number of their employees at the workplaces, while preserving their salaries; employees above 60 should be temporarily released from jobs, while keeping their salaries; kindergartens, schools, universities, as well as sport, cultural and other leisure activities will be suspended; visits at religious religious sites to be halted except for the representatives of church.

Earlier, on April 9, Bganba issued a decree introducing additional restrictions on outdoor gatherings, except for emergency needs, effective from April 11 until the end of the state of emergency.

The April 9 decree also established penalties for violating emergency laws. The first violation of the state of emergency regulations entails a verbal warning, while repeated violation envisages a fine of 3,000 rubles (around GEL 128/ USD 40). Violating self-isolation and isolation regimes will be fined with an amount of 5,000 and 10,000 rubles, respectively.

14:30 GMT+4 – Sixth Georgian National Dies of Coronavirus Abroad

A Georgian citizen has died of COVID-19 in Strasbourg, France, according to Paata Imnadze, Deputy Head of National Center for Disease Control and Public Health. Imnadze has stated at a briefing of the Inter-Agency Coordination Council today that the Georgian Foreign Ministry “is working on this issue.” Prior to this, one coronavirus- infected Georgian citizen died in the U.S., and other four passed away in Spain.

14:00 GMT+4 – Additional Checkpoints Set Up in Tsageri, Lentekhi Municipalities

Additional checkpoints have been set up in Tsageri and Lentekhi municipalities in western Georgia’s Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti region, the Interior Ministry reported. Road checkpoints will be used to check whether drivers are complying with state-of-emergency regulations, measure passengers’ temperature and provide first aid for those in need, “amid high epidemiological threat.”

Checkpoints have already been set up in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Poti, Rustavi, Zugdidi, Gori, Telavi, Akhaltsikhe, Kvemo Bolnisi and Vani.

12:25 GMT+4 – 143 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry have revealed 143 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 75 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 42 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; five citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; 21 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

12:00 GMT+4 – Total Confirmed Cases Hit 230; Recoveries Increase to 54

Government-run StopCov.ge website reports that twelve more patients tested positive for coronavirus, bringing Georgia’s total confirmed cases to 230; while three more recoveries have increased the number of recovered patients to 54.

Thursday, April 9

21:35 GMT+4 – 51st Patient Recovers

According to StopCov.ge website, 51st COVID-19 patient has recovered in Georgia.

19:55 GMT+4 – Testing Criteria for Coronavirus Expanded 

The Ministry of Health has expanded a list of novel coronavirus testing criteria, which will now also include organized groups and places of public assembly, like penitentiary and psychiatric facilities, elderly houses, defense forces, priests and monasteries.

Initially, the COVID-19 testing algorithm included suspected patients with travel history in countries hit hard by the novel coronavirus, people who had come into contact with patients already diagnosed with the disease, as well as symptomatic patients (with high fever), and high-risk groups such as frontline medical personnel.

19:45 GMT+4 – President Will not Attend Easter Liturgy 

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili stated in a video address today that she cannot attend Easter Vigil on April 19 because the President cannot violate the state of emergency regulations. Zurabishvili said, as a President she should be exemplary for other citizens, therefore, she cannot give them an example of disobedience.

Earlier, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia and other members of his cabinet, also announced that this year they will follow the Easter Liturgy on TV from home due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

19:25 GMT+4 – Two New Cases Bring Georgia’s Total to 218

Two more patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in the country, increasing its total confirmed cases to 218, according to the StopCov.ge website.

19:20 GMT+4 – Two New Cases Bring Georgia’s Total to 216

Two more patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, increasing the number of its total confirmed cases to 216, according to the StopCov.ge website.

17:50 GMT+4 – Some 80 Abkhazia Residents Are on Tbilisi-controlled Territory amid Pandemic

Some 80 persons habitually residing in Abkhazia are now on Tbilisi-controlled territory receiving medical care, one of whom – for COVID-19, said Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, Georgian State Minister overseeing the occupied regions.

12:55 GMT+4 – 115 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry have revealed 115 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 73 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 15 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; 27 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

12:30 GMT+4 – Three New Cases Bring Georgia’s Total to 214

Three more patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in the country, increasing its total confirmed cases to 214, according to the StopCov.ge website.

Wednesday, April 8

22:10 GMT+4 – Three More Cases Takes Georgia’s Total Confirmed Cases to 211

According to StopCov.ge website, three more patients tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, bringing the country’s total confirmed cases to 211. With 50 recoveries and 3 deaths, the number of active cases stands at 158.

21:00 GMT+4 – Nighttime Curfew Enacted in Gagra District 

Acting Abkhaz leader Valery Bganba has imposed a curfew from 20:00 to 07:00 [21:00 to 08:00 GMT+4, Tbilisi time – Civil.ge’s note] in occupied Gagra district, in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to the decree, violators will be detained until the end of the curfew.

The decision about curfew came as the region confirmed its first novel coronavirus case in Gagra.

Earlier, Moscow-backed Abkhaz authorities announced the State of Emergency on March 28 effective until April 20.

20:07 – GMT+4 – Abkhazia Confirms Second Coronavirus Case

Moscow-backed Abkhaz authorities confirmed the second case of the novel coronavirus in the region. The new patient had contracted the disease from Abkhazia’s patient zero.

The new infected patient undergoes self-isolation, noted Abkhaz health authorities, adding that his/her medical condition remains satisfactory.

As part of contact tracing of the first infected patient, who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 7, Abkhaz authorities performed six follow-up testings. The results of the five other persons who had contacts with Abkhazia’s patient zero came negative.

19:35 GMT+4 – Two More Patients Recover, Increasing Total Recoveries to 50

According to the Government-run StopCov.ge website, two more patients have recovered, increasing Georgia’s coronavirus recoveries to 50.

16:55 GMT+4 – Health Minister Speaks of Allocating Additional Hospital Beds

Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze statedthat 3,500 hospital beds have been allocated for treating coronavirus-infected patients throughout the country. She said there is also space available for additional 10,000 patients who do not need to be placed at hospitals but rather be kept in quarantine.

16:30 GMT+4 – Locally Manufactured Face Masks Available at Pharmacies

Georgian Economy Minister Natia Turnava announced today that 400,000 locally manufactured multiple use  face masks are already on sale at large pharmacies: Aversi, PSP, Pharmadepot and GPC. According to Turnava, the face masks will cost 0.5 GEL.

14:30 GMT+4 – Additional Thermal Screening Checkpoints to be Set Up in Vani Municipality

Additional thermal checkpoints will be set up in Vani Municipality in western Georgia’s Imereti region to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Irakli Chikovani, Prime Minister’s spokesperson made the announcement after the ad hoc task force meeting today. According to Chikovani, the decision follows the new COVID-19 case in the municipality.

12:25 GMT+4 – Two More Patients Recovered, Taking Number of Recoveries to 48

Government-run StopCov.ge website reports that two more patients have recovered, bringing Georgia’s coronavirus recoveries to 48.

12:00 GMT+4 – Police Fine 158 People for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Law enforcement officers have revealed 158 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours in Georgia. In particular, police have fined 121 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; four citizens – for public gathering; two citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; 31 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

09:45 GMT+4 – Twelve More Confirmed Cases Increase Total to 208

The government-run website StopCov.ge shows that twelve more patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, increasing total confirmed cases to 208.

Tuesday, April 7

22:30 GMT+4 – One More Patient Tests Positive for COVID-19, Bringing Total Cases to 196

According to government-run website StopCov.ge, one more patient tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing total confirmed cases to 196. With 46 recoveries and 3 deaths, the number of Georgia’s active cases stands at 147.

20:20 GMT+4 – One More Patient Recovered, Taking Number of Recoveries to 46

Government-run StopCov.ge website reported that one more patient has recovered, bringing Georgia’s coronavirus recoveries to 46.

19:07 GMT+4 – Abkhazia Confirms First Coronavirus Case

Moscow-backed Abkhazia has registered the first case of the novel coronavirus in the region. Abkhazia’s chief sanitation officer Lyudmila Skorik noted that the infected patient has arrived in Gagra, Georgia’s westernmost town, after having returned from a trip to Moscow.

After testing positive for coronavirus, the patient was delivered to Gudauta hospital, where s/he now undergoes treatment. Contract tracing is now carried out to track the spread of the disease, noted Abkhazia’s health officer.

Earlier, on March 30, ethnic Georgian resident of Abkhaz-controlled Gali district, who arrived to the region from Moscow via Sochi Airport, tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgian-controlled Zugdidi’s Hospital.

18:15 GMT+4 – Georgia Reports Third Coronavirus Death; 6 More Patients Recover

Third person diagnosed with COVID-19 infection has died today, Tengiz Tsertsvadze, Head of Tbilisi Hospital for Infectious Diseases has told reporters. An 86-year-old woman had been undergoing treatment for two weeks in the said hospital. According to Tsertsvadze, the patient had underlying health conditions – a chronic neurological disease- and had developed double pneumonia, and severe sepsis, further aggravating her medical state. “Her health condition was not compatible with life,” noted Georgia’s chief COVID-19 physician.

Meanwhile, according to the government-run website StopCov.ge, seven more patients have recovered, bringing the total of recoveries to 45.

17:00 GMT+4 – Sokhumi Tightens Border Restrictions Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

Psou crossing point, Georgia’s westernmost Sokhumi-controlled border checkpoint, connecting the region to the Russian Federation, will remain closed until April 20, according to a decree signed by acting Abkhaz leader Valery Bganba on April 7.

Travel restrictions apply to “all foreign nationals and stateless people” exempting only diplomatic corps (representatives of a handful of countries that recognize Abkhazia’s independence from Georgia, including Russia – Civil.Ge’s note), military personnel of the Border Directorate of Russian FSB deployed in Abkhazia, servicemen of Russian military bases, and fright truck drivers.

Earlier Sokhumi has imposed a travel ban barring foreign nationals from entering the occupied region. The ban then excluded citizens of the Russian Federation.

16:30 GMT+4 – Tskhinvali KGB ‘Wary’ of Georgia’s Offer to Provide Humanitarian Assistance to Tackle Pandemic

KGB of Moscow-backed Tskhinvali has expressed “concerns” over Georgian authorities’ pledge to provide assistance to citizens residing in the occupied regions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgia’s expressed will to deliver humanitarian aid is aimed at securing an emergency package worth EUR 1 billion from the EBRD and other international organizations such as UNDP, and USAID, KGB has asserted.

Kremlin-backed region’s authorities noted that, at the time of the outbreak, “the main external security threat” was stemming from Georgia proper. “In the light of these developments,” KGB decided to close Odzisi-Mosabruni [Razdakhan] crossing point which has been temporarily open since March 2 to allow residents, left in Georgia proper after the closure of all functioning crossing points, return to the region. All other crossing point have been shut down by Tskhinvali authorities since February 27 in an effort to “stop the spread of the virus.”

Earlier, on March 2, Tskhinvali banned the entry of foreign nationals hailing from over 60 states to the region in the period between March 16 to April 15 due the coronavirus outbreak. The ban, however, excluded the nationals of the Russian Federation. On April 2, Tskhinvali announced the closure of Roki crossing point that connects the occupied region with the Russian federation “until further notice.”

The Georgian government has numerously pledged to provide testing and treatment for Georgian citizens residing in the occupied regions. Sokhumi authorities rebuffed Tbilisi’s offer to lend a helping hand, commenting that “Abkhazia issued no requests [to Georgia proper], therefore they can keep their political speculations for themselves.” Tskhinvali , similarly, turned down Tbilisi’s proposal for assistance claiming that “Georgian authorities were trying to do political PR for themselves.”

16:10 GMT+4 – Tskhinvali Announces Paid Non-Working Period Until April 30 Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Anatoly Bibilov, Moscow-Backed leader of occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, has declared a paid non-working period from April 8 to April 20 in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19, “RES”, a local news agency has reported. As stated in Bibilov’s decree, all employees, except for those providing essential and emergency services – including pharmacies, grocery stores, banks and others – will enjoy two-week paid holidays throughout the occupied region.

16:01 GMT+4 – Georgian PM, EU Neighbourhood Commissioner Hold Video Talk

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia held video talk with Olivér Várhelyi, the European Union Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement.

“Spoke to Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia to confirm that the EU continues stand by partners in fight against the coronavirus outbreak, as part of our global response to the pandemic,” Olivér Várhelyi wrote on Twitter.

On his part, PM Gakharia thanked the Commissioner for the EU’s assistance to Georgia in the fight against COVID-19. According to the Georgian Prime Minister’s press office, the parties discussed the importance of supporting small and medium enterprises in the country, as well as providing humanitarian assistance to people living in Georgia’s Russian-occupied regions.

Georgian Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance, Davit Zalkaliani and Ivane Machavariani, respectively, as well as Deputy Director-General for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Katarina Mathernova and EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell attended the video talk.

14:00 GMT+4 – Altar Boy of Georgian Orthodox Church Diagnosed with Coronavirus

An altar server of the Georgian Orthodox Church, who serves at one of the churches in northeastern Tbilisi, and his two family members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus today, local media outlets have reported. It is unclear where the infected churchman had contracted the disease. According to his parish members, the altar server did attend church services on Sunday for a short time, increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

13:30 GMT+4 – 167 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry ha revealed 167 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 112 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 28 citizens – for public gathering and violating 2-meter distance; 27 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

13:00 GMT+4 –Patriarch Does Not Attend Annunciation Church Service In Holy Trinity Cathedral

Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, Head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, has not attended the Annunciation service held in the Holy Trinity cathedral today. The service has instead been conducted by Metropolitan Shio Mujiri, Patriarch’s locum tenens.

As stated by Tsisana Shartava, Patriarch’s personal physician, Ilia II’s medical health condition remains stable and he has only experienced changes of arterial blood pressure. “Due to blood pressure fluctuations, we [physicians] asked him [not to attend the Annunciation service] in order to keep him in good health for upcoming [Easter] holidays,” Shartava said in a phone conversation with Formula TV, a Georgian media outlet.

The Patriarch and his locum tenens were absent from the church services conducted on Sunday, April 6.

12:10 GMT+4 – Tbilisi Bazaars Closed to Curb Spread of Coronavirus

All agricultural open-air markets in Tbilisi have been shut down in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. “Within the framework of preventive measures against the disease, and in accordance with a recommendation by the Inter-Agency Coordination Council, all agricultural markets in Tbilisi are now closed,” Tbilisi City Hall has stated.

10:00 GMT+4 – Seven New Cases Confirmed, Total Rises to 195

Seven more patients have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a government-run website stopcov.ge has reported. To date, a total of 195 cases have been registered in Georgia.

Monday, April 6

20:00 GMT+4 – EBRD Pledges Financial Support to Georgia to Mitigate Coronavirus Fallout

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a London-based international financial institution, has announced about stepping up cooperation with Georgia as the country continues to tackle negative economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The EBRD has allocated funds worth EUR 1 billion through the emergency Solidarity Package to assist its clients across 38 economies, including in Georgia.

In a phone call with EBRD officials, Georgia’s Finance Minister Ivane Machavariani stated that “the assistance provided by the Bank will help to ensure economic stability during the global challenges caused by the COVID-19.” The Minister expressed hope that, with the help and efforts of international partners, Georgian economy would be able to weather the storm “with as little loss as possible.”

The EBRD support will be channeled into various domains such as emergency liquidity, working capital and trade finance. Importantly, it will assist Georgian commercial banks to provide access to funds for the private sector, especially for small and medium sized enterprises (SME), according to the statement released by the EBRD. The Bank also works on designing a new framework to support all municipalities in Georgia with improved access to infrastructure, upgrade the electricity grid and promote renewable energy generation sector.

The EBRD vowed to continue playing an important role in mediating private and public sector dialogue through the Investors Council, and assessing “the real and immediate needs” of business in Georgia.

18:45 GMT+4 – Three More Patients Recover, Total of Recoveries Hits 39

Three new patients have now recovered from the coronavirus disease, a government-run website stopcov.ge has reported. The total number of recovered individuals now stands at 39.

17:45 GMT+4 – Nine More Central Bank Employees Diagnosed with Coronavirus

Nine Employees of the National Bank of Georgia have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total of infected employees to 16. According to the Central Bank, newly infected employees have contracted the disease from the cluster of seven other employees diagnosed with coronavirus last week. All members of the staff who had come into contact with the infected employees were quarantined, and further epidemiological research and contract tracing are underway, the NBG said.

“National Bank of Georgia, as the principal financial institution, plays a central role in ensuring sound functioning of the financial sector and providing money supply for the economy under any circumstances,” reads the statement released by the NBG today. The Central Bank pledged to carry out its functions uninterrupted despite coronavirus concerns.

15:40 GMT+4 – Top Health Official Entreats Georgian Orthodox Church Parishioners to Pray at Home

Paata Imnadze, Deputy Head of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), has called on parishioners of the Georgian Orthodox Church “to pray at home” and refrain from visiting church houses in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. “Let us protect our mother church, protect our senior clerics, by not visiting churches and praying at home. Churches cannot close, clergymen will still pray [in churches] for us,” noted Imnadze in his address to Orthodox parishioners.

15:30 GMT+4 – Gov’t Launches “Aggressive Testing” of Target Groups

Health officials have started aggressive testing of target groups, such as frontline medical personnel, Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze has stated. According to the Minister, health officials are intending to gradually scale up testing. “We are not expecting sharp rise of confirmed cases in the aftermath of aggressive testing,” Tikaradze noted.

15:10 GMT+4 – Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Region Shuts Down Senaki, Zugdidi Bazaars

Agrarian open-air markets have been closed down in Senaki and Zugdidi municipalities of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region in western Georgia, to halt further spread of COVID-19.

The region’s state representative Alexandre Motserelia announced today that the markets failed to comply with the regulations and have been therefore temporarily closed.

According to local media, Tsnori, Kabali, Telavi and Gurjaani agrarian markets in Katheti region, eastern Georgia are also closing down. Two days ago, bazaars were closed in Shida Kartli and Imereti regions as well.

12:40 GMT+4 – 286 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry has revealed 286 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 136 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 82 citizens – for public gathering; nine citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; 59 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

12:00 GMT+4 – 14 New Cases Increase Total Confirmed to 188

According to the government-run website StopCov.ge, 14 more patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, increasing its total confirmed cases to 188. With 36 recoveries and two deaths, the number of active novel coronavirus cases in the country stand at 150.

Sunday, April 5

19:45 GMT+4 – Four More Cases Take Total Confirmed to 174

Government-run website StopCov.ge has reported that four more patients tested positive for the novel coronavirus, taking Georgia’s total confirmed cases to 174. With 36 recoveries and two deaths, the number of active novel coronavirus cases in the country stand at 136.

13:24 GMT+4 – Police Fine 238 People for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Law enforcement officers have revealed 238 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours in Georgia. In particular, police have fined 113 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 21 citizens – for public gathering; one person and one legal entity – for violating restrictions in the sphere of business activities; 12 citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; 90 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

11:40 GMT+4 – Georgia Reports Second Coronavirus Death

Georgia has confirmed its second coronavirus death. The patient, an 81-year-old woman died at the First University Clinic in Tbilisi. Levan Ratiani, Director of the Clinic said acute double pneumonia and consequent respiratory failure and septic shock led to the patient’s death. The patient, transferred to First University Clinic from Tbilisi Sea Hospital on April 3, had serious preexisting medical conditions, including serious cardiovascular condition, noted Ratiani.

11:00 GMT+4 – Total Confirmed Cases Increase to 170

According to the state-run StopCov.ge website Georgia’s total confirmed cases of COVID-19 have increased to 170.

Saturday, April 4

22:30 GMT+4 – Three New Cases Takes Confirmed Total to 162; Five More Recovered, Bringing Total Recoveries to 36

Government-run StopCov.ge website reports that three more patients tested positive for coronavirus, bringing Georgia’s total confirmed cases to 162. Five more patients have recovered, bringing the country’s total recoveries to 36.

20:46 GMT+4 – Austria Evacuates Five Georgian Nationals from Nigeria

Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani thanked Austrian authorities for evacuating five Georgian nationals from Abuja, Nigeria. “We can only get through the crisis if we act in a spirit of partnership and solidarity,” tweeted FM Zalkaliani.

20:30 GMT+4 – Two New Cases Increase Total to 159

Two new cases of COVID-19 have been registered in Georgia, bringing the total to 159, according to the state-run website stopcov.ge.

19:30 GMT+4 – Three Patients Recover; Total Recoveries Hit 31

A government-run website StopCov.ge has reported that three more patient recovered, bringing the number of Georgia’s total recoveries to 31.

16:30 GMT+4 – Govt Will not Attend Easter Liturgy

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia announced today that “as an ordinary Christian,” he will follow the Easter Liturgy on TV from home. “This is my civic responsibility as an individual citizen, as well as the head of the government,” noted Gakharia and called on fellow Orthodox Christian believers in the country to follow his example.

Earlier, other members of Gakharia’s cabinet also said they will not attend Easter Vigil on April 19 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Ministers of Infrastructure, Healthcare and Economy, Maia Tskitishvili, Ekaterine Tikaradze and Natia Turnava, respectively, have also stated that they will skip church on Easter. Instead, the ministers said they will watch the Vigil ceremony on TV at home.

Georgian Government announced nationwide partial curfew (21:00-06:00) effective from March 31 until April 21, the last day of state of emergency. The decision prompted discussions whether holding dusk-to-dawn Easter Vigil on April 18-19 by the Georgian Orthodox Church, the country’s most revered institution, violate the emergency laws.

“The requirements envisaged by curfew are clear – movement between 21:00 and 06:00 is banned. Besides, gathering of more than three people is prohibited. Therefore, combining these two requirements, mass gatherings in Church or in any other places for that matter, will obviously violate the rules of the curfew,” stated Vice Prime Minister Tskhitishvili.

16:00 GMT+4 – Georgian Confirms 157th case; 

The state-run website stopcov.ge reports that Georgia has confirmed yet another case of the novel coronavirus, increasing the total confirmed cases to 157.

15:30 GMT+4 – Shida Kartli, Imereti Regions Shut Down Bazaars

In a bid to halt further spread of COVID-19, regional authorities in Shida Kartli announced today to close down six agricultural open-air markets in the region until further notice. The bazaars have been shut down since the morning in western Georgia’s Imereti region too.

14:35 GMT+4 – 421 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry have revealed 421 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 180 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 72 citizens – for public gathering; one person – for violating restrictions in the sphere of business activities; five citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; 163 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

12:40 GMT+4 – Georgia Reports First Coronavirus Death

On the 39th day since Georgia recorded its first novel coronavirus case, the country has confirmed the first coronavirus death. The patient, a 79-year-old woman, coming from Marneuli-Bolnisi cluster of patients, died at the First University Clinic in Tbilisi. Levan Ratiani, Director of the Clinic said the patient had serious underlying medical conditions, including stage four heart failure, as well as cachexia.

10:05 GMT +4 – Georgian Confirms 156th case; 

According to the state-run website stopcov.ge, Georgia has confirmed one new case of COVID-19, increasing the total confirmed cases to 156.

Friday, April 3

22:45 GMT+4 – 28th Patient Recovers

A government-run website StopCov.ge has reported that one more patient recovered, bringing the number of Georgia’s total recoveries to 28.

22:20 GMT +4 – Georgia Reports Seven New Cases, Total Hits 155

Seven new cases of the novel coronavirus have been registered in Georgia, bringing the total to 155, a state-run website stopcov.ge has reported.

15:30 GMT +4 – 491 People Fined for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Georgian Interior Ministry have revealed 491 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours. In particular, police have fined 189 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 19 citizens – for public gathering; one legal entity – for violating restrictions in the sphere of business activities; two citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; 280 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

According to the state of emergency regulations, natural or legal persons failing to observe the conditions of the state of emergency are to face criminal responsibility. For breaching the law, the decree sets a GEL 3,000 fine for individuals and GEL 15,000 for legal entities. Repeat offenders may face up to 3 years of prison sentence.

10:00 GMT +4 – Total Confirmed Cases Rise to 148; Recoveries Total 27

Government-run website StopCov.ge reports that 14 new cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed in the country, bringing total cases to 148. One more patient recovers, bringing the number of recoveries to 27.

Thursday, April 2

22:05 GMT+4 – Georgia Reports Three New Cases, Total Hits 134

Three new cases of the novel coronavirus have been registered in Georgia, bringing the total to 134, a state-run website stopcov.ge has reported.

19:20 GMT+4 – One New Case Recorded, Total Rises to 131

One more patient has tested positive for COVID-19 in Georgia, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 131, according to the state-run website StopCov.ge.

15:56 GMT+4 – Police Fine 706 People for Defying State of Emergency Rules

Law enforcement officers have revealed 706 new cases of disobeying state of emergency regulations within the last 24 hours in Georgia. In particular, police have fined 204 citizens for defying the nationwide curfew between 21:00-06:00; 75 citizens – for public gathering; one person and one legal entity – for violating restrictions in the sphere of business activities; ten citizens – for violating rules of quarantine and self-isolation; 415 citizens – for transporting passengers and violating state-imposed restrictions on driving.

13:30 GMT+4 – Georgia Considers Treating Mild Coronavirus Patients at Home

COVID-19 patients showing mild or no symptoms will treated at home and may only be hospitalized if their medical condition aggravates, Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze has stated at a daily briefing held to update on the coronavirus pandemic in Georgia. “Up to 80 % of cases are from mild to moderate,” Tikaradze noted, adding that home physicians and general practitioners are being trained to provide medical advice via telephone consultations (112 – emergency number in Georgia). The measure is aimed at averting hospital overload in case of a flux of new patients.

Health Minister commented on the more rapid rise of coronavirus cases, stating that “there is no need to sound the alarm right now in the country,” as the Ministry is putting together a strategy to manage increased flow of new patients. The Minister predicted that the outbreak may peak in mid-April, stressing that further spread could be contained by means of “effective management” of the disease by the government and society alike.

13:00 GMT+4 – Gov’t Expands List of Authorized Business Activities

The Georgian government has amended a decree issued on March 23 adding types of economic activities authorized under the state of emergency regulations which are effective until April 21. Oil and gas production companies, as well as businesses adopting remote work model will now be permitted to resume operations. “In case of critical need”, reads the decree, no more than five employees are allowed to work from office. Home delivery service of food and medication/medical supplies is also permitted.

Restriction of home delivery service (of other consumer goods) has annoyed businesses and a part of society. As stated by Economy Minister Natia Turnava at today’s briefing of the Inter-Agency Coordination Council on Coronavirus, delivery service businesses must “prove” their adherence to all public health and safety recommendations – “we must be certain that all employees in the warehouses wear relevant [personal protective] equipment,” she said. “We [the government] will soon provide businesses with guidelines and if they undertake all necessary measures, guaranteeing that said regulations are observed, they will be allowed to operate freely,” noted Turnava.

12:00 GMT+4 – Seven Employees of Central Bank Test Positive for Coronavirus

Seven employees of the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) have tested positive for COVID-19. According to the NBG, the infected patients might have contracted the disease from another Central Bank employee who had been diagnosed with coronavirus a week before. All seven are employees of the same department and have not come into contact with other NBG employees during past two weeks, reads the statement released by the Central Bank. 90 % of the staff are now working remotely, the NBG added.

11:00 GMT+4 – Georgian Priest in New York Diagnosed with Coronavirus

A Georgian clergyman serving in New York parish of the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The news came from Bishop Saba Intskirveli, Head of GOC’s Diocese in North America. According to the Bishop, the infected priest did not hold church services last week and now undergoes treatment at home. Another Georgian priest in New York tested positive for COVID-19 on March 25.

According Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze, a total of 35 Georgian nationals have been diagnosed with coronavirus abroad.

10:00 GMT+4 – 13 New Cases Take Total to 130, Three More Recover

According to government-run website StopCov.ge, thirteen new patients tested positive for COVID-19, bringing total to 130. Three more patients have recovered, taking total recoveries to 26.

01:00 GMT+4 – Tskhinvali Closes Roki Crossing-Point with Russia

Anatoly Bibilov, Moscow-backed leader of Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia announced about the closure of Roki crossing-point connecting the occupied region with the Russian Federation from April 2 “until further notice.” 

The move came as Russian Federation’s North Ossetia recorded the first two cases of the novel coronavirus, while the number of Russian confirmed cases totaled 2,777 as of April 1 morning.

The residents of Tskhinvali will be allowed to return to the region, however, they are required to undertake a 14-day self-isolation period. The ban also excludes Russian military servicemen and FSB employees occupying the region. Freight transportation is also exempt from the restrictions. 

To halt the spread of COVID-19, Tskhinvali leadership announced further set of restrictive measures , including closing down beauty and spa salons, hotels and resorts.   

Earlier, Tskhinvali banned the entry of all foreign citizens in the region in the period between March 16 to April 15 amid the coronavirus outbreak. The ban, however, excluded the nationals of the Russian Federation. On March 2, Tskhinvali imposed a temporary travel ban on nationals hailing from more than 60 states. 

Prior to that, as Georgia recorded its first COVID-19 cases, the occupied region’s KGB closed all crossing points connecting the region to Georgia proper until further notice on February 27. Noteworthy, that the most frequently used Odzisi crossing point, connecting the region’s ethnic Georgian-majority Akhalgori district to Georgia proper remains closed since September 2019. 

“We will not allow the infection to penetrate into South Ossetia from Georgia,” said Dmitry Medoev, Moscow-backed “foreign minister” of Tskhinvali on April 2.

Commenting on state of affairs in Tskhinvali, Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, the Georgian State Minister overseeing occupied regions said situation in the region has become “alarming.”

Wednesday, April 1

22:00 GMT+4 – Georgian Orthodox Church Unwilling to Suspend Religious Service Despite State of Emergency Measures

Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, a dominant religious denomination in the country, has issued a statement, affirming that “church doors could not be shut [to worshipers] and they will remain open for all comers, to receive God’s grace and invigorate themselves spiritually.”

“In light of the current circumstances” the Patriarch addressed his parish with following pieces of advice:

  • “Until the plague passes, observe relevant [public health] recommendations;
  • When in contact with other people, either in the church house or outside, keep distance between you and others;
  • During the Divine Liturgy (church service), only the clergy, church choir members and altar servers should remain inside the church house; in large cathedrals, a limited number of parishioners may also be present [inside the church house];
  • In general, parishioners are advised to stay on the premises of the church courtyard, in the open air, while attending church services;
  • In small-size church houses, church services may be conducted using a makeshift altar in the open air;
  • Parishioners, who, due to their old age or medical state constitute a high-risk group, also those wary about contracting the disease, may stay home; Parish priests will conduct church services [in their houses] and set rules of worship for those who wish it or are in an urgent need.”

20:00 GMT+4 – Additional Thermal Screening Checkpoint to be Set Up in Kvemo Bolnisi

Georgian Interior Ministry reported that additional checkpoint will be set up at the entrance of Kvemo Bolnisi “to ensure the enforcement of significantly tough measures” during the state of emergency.

Similar checkpoints have been set up in major cities Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Poti, Rustavi, Zugdidi, Gori, Telavi and Akhaltsikhe to check whether drivers are complying with state-of-emergency regulations, measure passengers’ temperature and provide first aid for those in need.

19:47 GMT+4 –  Two New Cases Recorded, Total Rises to 117

According to the government-run website stopcov.ge, two new cases of coronavirus have been registered in Georgia. The national total now stands at 117.

13:50 GMT+4 – 23rd Patient Recovers

Government-run website StopCov.ge reports that 23rd Georgian patient has now recovered from the novel coronavirus.

„This was the most severely ill patient that we’ve been treating; she has now recovered and will be discharged today,” noted Levan Ratiani, Director of First University Clinic in Tbilisi. According to Ratiani, the said patient, a woman, has had serious underlying medical conditions, including hypertension (high-blood pressure), diabetes and had previously suffered from heart failure. When hospitalized on March 15, the patient was diagnosed with double pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, triggered by COVID-19 infection. “I consider her recovery as a triumph of Georgian healthcare system,” remarked Ratiani.

13:30 GMT+4 – Testing Criteria for Coronavirus Expanded, Focusing on High-Risk Groups

The Ministry of Health has expanded a list of testing criteria for the novel coronavirus, which will now include symptomatic patients (with high fever), and high-risk groups such as frontline medical personnel. The decision has been voiced by Tamar Gabunia, Deputy Health Minister, at a government task force briefing to update on the coronavirus outbreak in Georgia. Prior to the change, the COVID-19 testing algorithm only included suspected patients with travel history of coronavirus-affected countries, and people who had come into contact with patients already diagnosed with the disease. The move comes in the wake of at least two confirmed cases of internal COVID-19 transmission.

According to Gabunia, the Ministry has already launched setting-up and equipping of fever clinics – forty-odd ambulatory care facilities providing primary care for patients showing some symptoms of COVID-19. Fever clinics will be open in most of Georgian municipalities, carrying out rapid tests for prompt diagnosis. These facilities, the Deputy Minister noted, would assume the role of intermediary between general hospitals and clinics specially designated for coronavirus treatment (so called COVID centers).

As for testing capacity, Gabunia stated that there were about 4,000 kits for antibody blood test available for Georgia’s healthcare system, in addition to 2,000 antigen test kits for diagnostics performed using a PCR analyzer. “We will soon get another 2,000 rapid test kits that function without a lab analyzer [point-of-care testing],” said Gabunia.

12:50 GMT+4 – Govt Allocates GEL 2 Bln to Cushion Blow to Economy

The Government of Georgia has allocated GEL 2 billion (USD 604 mln) from the budget to mitigate negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia has announced at the government task force meeting today that the allocated funds will be addressed to keep firms in business and people in jobs.

“We are aware that each citizen has seen economic harm due to the measures the Government taken in a bid to protect their health,” Gakharia said with reference to the restrictive measures imposed within the framework of nationwide state of emergency.

As stated by Gakharia, the government will cover utility fees for the households consuming less than 200 cubic meter of gas and 200 kilowatts of electricity per month in March, April and May. The Prime Minister further noted that there will be additional measures announced to help the vulnerable families affected by the pandemic.

11:30 GMT+4 – Interior Ministry Says First Night of COVID-19 Curfew Was ‘Quiet’

Georgian Interior Ministry reported that the first night of the curfew between 21:00-06:00 was “quiet,” as Georgian citizens had been informed about the restrictive measures imposed within the nationwide state of emergency.

According to the head of the Patrol Police Department, Vazha Siradze, few petty violations had been recorded during the curfew, and police reacted with “quick response.”

10:40 GMT+4 – Five New Cases Take Total to 115, Number of Recoveries Hits 22

According to the state-run website StopCov.ge updates, five more people have tested positive for COVID-19, increasing the total number of cases to 115, while one new recovery has brought the number of recovered patients to 22.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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