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COVID Cases Spike in Occupied Abkhazia

Russian-occupied Abkhazia has seen a surge in COVID cases, with 477 new cases being confirmed yesterday, some three times more than the previous week’s six-day average. On January 24, Abkhaz health authorities registered a record 538 new infections.

To date, there are 4,874 active infections in the region with less than a quarter million residents.

“Omicron strain is rampaging all over the world, and, unfortunately, Abkhazia too has not been spared,” Sokhumi-based Apsnypress agency cited ‘health minister’ Eduard Butba as saying on January 25.

Abkhaz health authorities confirmed the spread of the Omicron variant in the region only on January 24, with registered 30 cases of the strain, according to Apsnypress.

But Alisa Matua, an immunology expert and aide to Butba, explained that the authorities did not have the opportunity to detect the strain earlier. According to Matua, the 30 Omicron cases were identified by a private lab that collects and sends its samples to Russia.

Butba stated after a meeting of the coordination council responsible for tackling the pandemic that the spike in the number of new cases has not led to mass hospitalizations.

“Over the past four days, the number of inpatients did not exceed 165 people in all medical establishments,” Butba highlighted, adding that hospitals will be quarantined to prevent transmission and that outpatients treatment will be prioritized.

Following the meeting of the council, Abkhaz leader Aslan Bzhania signed yesterday a new order banning mass gatherings in weddings, other festivities, memorial ceremonies or business events in closed spaces, according to Apsnypress. 

Authorities have also recommended all public and private entities, as well as non-profits to let unvaccinated pregnant women and those over 60 take a paid leave.

Abkhaz health authorities have confirmed overall 40,875 cases of COVID since the onset of the pandemic, among them 35,413 have recovered and 588 died.

Besides Abkhazia, Georgia’s another Russian-occupied region of Tskhinvali/South Ossetia has also seen a surge in cases.

While statistics from the region have been inconsistent and largely unreliable since the onset of the pandemic, Tskhinvali-based RES news agency reported on January 23 that the region had confirmed a record 171 daily new infections, with the cases starting to spike since the beginning of 2022.

RES cited South Ossetian health authorities as saying that the region’s total confirmed cases has surpassed 11,000. The 2015 census administered by Kremlin-backed authorities — often seen by experts as exaggerated statistics — puts the region’s population at 53,532.

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

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