On Saturday, March 14, Azerbaijan closed its border with Georgia and suspended all traffic between the two countries through at least Tuesday, March 24, to prevent further spread of the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities also announced on Saturday that the border with Turkey would be closed from midnight (local time) on Sunday, March 15. Earlier in the week, officials extended the border closure with Iran through March 24.
On Sunday, Azerbaijan Airlines announced the planned cancelation of several international flights, including service to Paris (France), Berlin (Germany), and Nur Sultan, Aktau, and Almaty (Kazakhstan). Routes serviced by various airlines between Azerbaijan and Ukraine, UAE, Russia, Qatar, and the US are also set to be suspended in the coming days.
On Friday, March 13, officials announced that all museums, cinemas, and theaters would be closed and all large cultural and sporting events would be postponed until further notice. This announcement came one day after Azerbaijan reported its first COVID-19-related fatality on Thursday, March 12.
To date, there have been over 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Azerbaijan. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.