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14 Apr 2020 | 12:07 PM UTC

Georgia: Government to lock down four cities from April 15-25 over COVID-19 concerns /update 8

Government to lock down Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, and Rustavi from April 15-25 over COVID-19 concerns; follow government directives

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GEO

Event

On Tuesday, April 14, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia announced that the cities of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, and Rustavi will be locked down for ten days starting on Wednesday, April 15, due to concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Individuals will not be able to enter or leave the four cities until Saturday, April 25, at the earliest. Individuals will be allowed to use their vehicles within these cities, but they must adhere to state of emergency restrictions (i.e. no more than three people allowed to sit in a car). Information on exceptions to these restrictions may be made available to individuals in Georgia by calling 144.

Prime Minister Gakharia also announced that the current state of emergency will be extended through Sunday, May 10, although this measure reportedly needs to be officially initiated by the president. Under the state of emergency, gatherings of more than three people are prohibited. All flights except for repatriation flights for Georgian citizens organized by the government have been canceled. Borders have been closed to all foreigners, including passenger rail traffic. All nonessential businesses have been closed, including resorts, restaurants, cafés, casinos, nightclubs, and gyms. Additional checkpoints will be erected in Tbilisi and six other major cities to screen individuals and to enforce movement restrictions.

On Monday, March 30, the government enacted stricter containment measures and an overnight curfew. The curfew began on Tuesday, March 31, and is in effect from 21:00 until 06:00 (local time). All public transportation services, including the metro, are suspended nationwide. People over 70 years of age are only allowed to leave their homes to go to the nearest market, pharmacy, or hospital. All individuals must have identification documents with them when traveling outside.

As of April 14, there have been 296 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia, including three associated fatalities. Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

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 labored 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.

Advice

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.