Bi-weekly COVID-19 Situation Report for 6 countries of the Eastern Partnership

Within EU-funded COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership countries AFEW International prepares regular updates on the COVID-19 developments in the region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine). 

To improve the quality of these situation reports, we asked you to fill in our questionnaire in May 2021.  We would like to thank those of you who filled in the questionnaire. Based on your suggestions the data per country now shows not the general situation since the beginning of the pandemic, but current trends and a 7-day average. 

You can find previous updates in the COVID Corner on our website.

As of 03.06.2021

Regional overview

The number of coronavirus cases per population ratio since the start of the active phase of the pandemic (April 1 2020) in the 6 countries of the Eastern Partnership

Source: Sciences Po Media lab Coronavirus Country Comparator

Situation report Armenia

Cases of COVID-19

— As of June 1, the number of infected in one day has grown by 108, while 213,429 (+221) people have recovered, other 3,822 (-120) are getting treatment. The total death toll reached 4,445 (+7), other,1,082 (+0) patients died from other diseases. In a day 7 people died.

— In general, COVID-19 infections are decreasing in Armenia, with 85 new infections reported on average each day. That’s 4% of the peak — the highest daily average reported on November 1.

Measures to contain the epidemic

— The quarantine in Armenia declared on January 11 is still in place till July 11, 5 p.m.

Vaccine

— Armenia has administered at least 33,529 doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 0.6% of the country’s population. During the last week reported, Armenia averaged about 1,016 doses administered each day. At that rate, it will take a further 582 days to administer enough doses for another 10% of the population.

Situation report Azerbaijan

Cases of COVID-19

— COVID-19 infections are decreasing in Azerbaijan, with 170 new infections reported on average each day. That’s 4% of the peak — the highest daily average reported on December 14.

Measures to contain the epidemic

— Azerbaijan has eased coronavirus restrictions on May 31. People are no longer required to wear face masks in public places, Baku Metro and inter-city travel have also resumed on May 31. The country made it mandatory in June 2020 to wear masks to stem the spread of COVID-19.

— Meanwhile, places of worship, shopping malls, beaches and gyms will open on June 10.

— ‘COVID passports’ are also being launched. Either a vaccination certificate or an immune certificate (recovery from COVID-19) will be required to enter sports and recreational centers.

Vaccine

— Azerbaijan has administered at least 2,367,094 doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 11.8% of the country’s population. During the last week reported, Azerbaijan averaged about 37,561 doses administered each day. At that rate, it will take a further 54 days to administer enough doses for another 10% of the population.

Situation report Belarus

Cases of COVID-19

— Belarus confirmed 915 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

— Belarus is reporting 1,000 new infections on average each day, 52% of the peak — the highest daily average reported on December 15.

Measures to contain the epidemic

— The Healthcare Ministry’s anti-coronavirus recommendations remain the same – social distancing, limiting face-to-face contact, avoiding crowds, wearing masks.

Vaccine

— More than 542,300 Belarusians have already received the first dose of the vaccine and over 297,100 have already got both shots.

Situation report Georgia

Cases of COVID-19

— Georgia has reported 833 new cases of coronavirus, 1,205 recoveries and 19 deaths in the past 24 hours. 28,191 tests were conducted around the country in the past 24 hours. 3.16 per cent of tested individuals had Covid-19 in the past 14 days.

— On May 27, Georgia has reported five cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19, the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) announced.

Measures to contain the epidemic

— On June 1, after more than a year-long closure due to the coronavirus pandemic Georgia has opened its land borders. Individuals are admitted through the land borders of Georgia with evidence of full vaccination and negative PCR test results or alternatively only with a negative PCR test result taken within the last 72 hours. A follow-up test three days after entry must also be taken. As for travelling by air to Georgia, in this case, the travellers are required to present the document confirming the full course (two doses, one dose in case of Johnson&Johnson) of any Covid-19 vaccination at the border checkpoints of Georgia and are allowed to enter the country.

Vaccine

— Mass Covid-19 immunisation is expected to start in Georgia in July, according to the Head of the Georgian National Centre for Disease Control Amiran Gamkrelidze. From July, Georgia wants to establish mass vaccination centers in big cities, such as Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, with a daily capacity of 3,000-4,000 vaccines.

 Situation report Republic of Moldova

Cases of COVID-19

— The number of new cases has decreased twice over the last week and reached a 7-day average of 54 on June 2 compared to 119 for the preceding week.

— The number of active cases has decreased 31% in the past week compared to the previous week.

Measures to contain the epidemic

— Hungary and Moldova vaccinated travellers can travel to these countries without the need to undergo any entry restrictions such as quarantine and negative test results since May 31.

— As of May 29, mandatory mask-wearing in the open has been cancelled in Chisinau. However, this protective measure shall be maintained when citizens enter the premises or use public transport, at meetings and mass events. Restaurants and hotels (HoReCa) have resumed their work too.
This does not apply to the work of nightclubs, discos and karaoke. The capacity of the halls in cafes and other establishments should not exceed 50%. Recreation areas and amusement parks also resumed their work. Children’s recreation camps on the territory of the municipality are allowed. Theatres opened and various outdoor performances are now allowed.

Vaccine

— As of June 3, Moldova has administered at least 426,086 doses of COVID vaccines. Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 8% of the country’s population. During the last week reported, Moldova averaged about 14,725 doses administered each day. At that rate, it will take a further 37 days to administer enough doses for another 10% of the population.

— Over the 3 days of the ‘coronavirus vaccination marathon’, organized by the Moldovan Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection and the Chisinau City Hall on May 31, more than 5500 citizens came to the Palatul Republicii [Palace of the Republic] and got vaccinated.

Situation report Ukraine

COVID-19 cases

— The average number of new infections reported each day in Ukraine falls by more than 3,000 over the last 3 weeks, 19% of its previous peak.

— COVID-19 infections are decreasing in Ukraine, with 2,425 new infections reported on average each day. That’s 15% of the peak — the highest daily average reported on April 8.

Measures to contain the epidemic

— Ukrainian authorities announced on May 20, that ongoing quarantine measures will be extended until June 22.

— Ukraine is maintaining measures imposed to combat the spread of COVID-19 as of May 27. An adaptive quarantine regime is in place through at least June 22. Under this system, all regions are classified as one of four color-coded zones – green, yellow, orange, or red. As of May 27, all regions are in the yellow zone. Yellow zones are subject to nationwide restrictions only, which include the following:

  • Restaurants, cafes, and bars must close 23:59-07:00.
  • Attendance caps are in place on public events and religious services.
  • Public transport, except for metro trains, is limited to 50 percent capacity.
  • Social distancing standards are in force.
  • Protective face coverings are mandatory in public, including on public transport, in public buildings, and in crowded indoor spaces.

Vaccine

— Ukraine has administered at least 1,214,883 doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 1.4% of the country’s population. During the last week reported, Ukraine averaged about 13,350 doses administered each day. At that rate, it will take a further 665 days to administer enough doses for another 10% of the population.

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Interesting reads

— BBC: Belarus bans most citizens from going abroad read.

— WHO: WHO validates Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use and issues interim policy recommendations read.

— Agenda.ge: Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova request EU support in acquiring coronavirus vaccines read.

— EU support to Eastern Partnership countries in tackling COVID-19 download.

— Reuters: New Ukraine health minister vows to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations read.

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Please feel free to share if you have any comments or additional information about the situation with the COVID-19 in the countries of the EaP

An AIDS Crisis in Ukraine

Switzerland AIDS Fund CorruptionThe New York Times, by Michel Kazatchkine, July 26, 2015

GENEVA — More than 6,500 deaths have been reported in the Donbass region, where Ukrainian forces have battled Russian-supported separatist fighters for control since April 2014. The political violence has led to a humanitarian crisis. More than 8,000 patients being treated for H.I.V. or drug dependence have had life-saving medicines cut off, or will soon be without them, unless action is taken right now to allow a humanitarian convoy through.

Health care was an early casualty of the conflict in the Donbass. The Ukrainian government, saying it wished to ensure that national resources did not fall into the hands of armed groups, cut off funding in November to all facilities in the region, including hospitals, and told patients who remained in the conflict zone that they could travel to government-controlled territory to receive medicines. Unsurprisingly, this has proved impractical for many people who are sick, poor or simply frightened. Mechanisms to monitor and respond to disease outbreaks are no longer functional in the territory; immunization coverage is low, and health experts now fear possible outbreaks of polio and for the safety of blood supplies.

People at risk for, or living with, H.I.V. are already suffering. Ukraine has one of the highest rates of H.I.V. infection in Europe; the majority of patients were infected with the virus through contaminated drug injections. Before the conflict, Ukrainian programs helped control H.I.V. infections in the Donbass by providing sterile needles and syringes and methadone, a medicine the World Health Organization recommends to reduce use of and craving for heroin. Ukraine successfully reduced H.I.V. infections, particularly among young people who inject drugs, for whom infection rates decreased more than fivefold between 2007 and 2013.

Unfortunately, the Donbass conflict now jeopardizes that progress. According to the International H.I.V./AIDS Alliance in Ukraine, a nongovernmental organization based in Kiev, more than 1,000 patients in the Donbass have either had their methadone stopped or reduced to substandard doses, forcing men and women to undergo painful withdrawal or return to street drugs. Requests to the Ukrainian government to replenish methadone supplies, accompanied by an offer by Doctors Without Borders to oversee distribution, were met with the response that the medicine — distributed routinely to hundreds of thousands of patients across Western Europe — could be transported, under Ukrainian law, only by armed convoys. In June, a number of patients sent a video appeal to government officials, saying they feared for their lives because their treatment had been interrupted. It is not known how many people have succumbed to overdose or suicides after methadone treatments were ended, though the video reported nine deaths.

People living with H.I.V. in the Donbass now face a similar interruption in life-saving antiretroviral treatment. The W.H.O. estimates that supplies of H.I.V. medicines will last only until mid-August in some parts of the Donbass. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has offered to pay for more antiretroviral treatments, and Unicef is willing to procure them. However, no humanitarian convoy has delivered medicines into the territory since February. Thousands of men and women, many of whom overcame discrimination and financial barriers to secure access to H.I.V. medicines, are now watching their antiretroviral pill supplies vanish, and with them, their hopes for survival. The W.H.O. reports that medicines for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, diagnosed at high levels in the region, are also running low.

For their part, those in control of the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics in the Donbass have shown little interest in protecting the lives of people with H.I.V. A number of reports have documented violence against people who use drugs and other marginalized groups. The People’s Republic of Luhansk has indicated that it does not want to continue opioid-replacement therapy (consistent with Russian policy), and has announced that United Nations agencies must register with them prior to provision of any humanitarian aid. The Ukrainian Parliament has exempted itself from culpability for the Donbass, passing a resolution in May that the rights of those remaining are the responsibility of the “occupier.” At the same time, the authorities in Luhansk or Donetsk have not moved to fill the H.I.V. treatment gap, leaving patients in a desperate limbo.

No one should be forced to choose between fleeing their home and stopping life-saving treatment.

This is a humanitarian crisis that can be easily solved. The Ukrainian government, even if reluctant to commit resources in the “temporarily occupied” region, should permit passage of a United Nations convoy with medicines funded by international donors. Those controlling the Donbass could also give the green light for the convoy. The government of Ukraine should work on an interim procedure to provide assistance to the population in these territories and facilitate the passage of humanitarian aid.

The Minsk Group, which is led by France, Russia and the United States and tasked with finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict, should urge immediate action to restore the medicine supply in the Donbass.

Silence and inaction will only bring more suffering. Nothing is gained by making patients hostage to geopolitical disputes. Both the Ukrainian government and the leaders of the separatist Donbass region should ensure that, as a matter of medical ethics and human decency, innocent and vulnerable medical patients do not join the list of casualties in this conflict.

Michel Kazatchkine, a French physician, is the United Nations secretary general’s special envoy for H.I.V./AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

‘East and West Together’ — AFEW Releases Its 2014 Annual Report

east west togetherAIDS Foundation East-West is pleased to release its 2014 Annual Report titled “East and West Together”. In this report we communicate the urgency of attention, both political and financial, that is needed in the region to inhibit the spread of HIV.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the only region in the world where HIV incidence continues to climb, already reaching 1.5 million people. In this region, fewer than 50% of people who use drugs, sex workers and men who have sex with men have access to HIV testing.

In this report we highlight some of our project results. We are particularly proud of our ground-breaking projects for key populations at risk. Our activities aim to improve responses to HIV for these groups in society; they span the full continuum of prevention, treatment, care, and support. The report also gives a glimpse into the development of women’s shelters in Kyrgyzstan serving female key populations, the only social bureaus of their kind.

Lastly, we call upon your financial help for us to continue our life-saving projects. Your contribution is vital, because the groups that we represent are so often overlooked in lists of good causes, corporate charity budgets and national development programmes.

Enjoy reading our annual report and please share it with your colleagues and friends!

Summer Schools in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan Promote Human Rights and Sexuality Education

In June and July AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW), the implementing partner for the “People who use Drugs” (PUD) project within the Bridging the Gaps programme, held two summer schools: in Kyrgyzstan – for 24 young leaders on sexuality education for their peers, and in Georgia for 36 representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations on human rights. Both summer schools were held in partnership with local civil society organisations.

GEORGIA: DRUG USE IS NOT A CRIME!

The goal of this five-day summer school was to improve the interaction between governmental and non-governmental organisations in the field of human rights, particularly concerning people who use drugs. Participants representing different public organisations received practical skills on human rights protection and security issues in protecting the rights of people who use drugs. Trainers from Ukraine and Georgia told about the successful world experience in implementing harm reduction programmes and provided comparative analysis of epidemiological, legal and social challenges of harm reduction. Maryna Hovorukhina from the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union trained the participants on effective communication through public speeches and texts and through working with media.

At the end of the summer school, participants could apply the knowledge and skills they received at a European Court hearing simulation. The group was assigned roles: there was a defendant with his lawyers, expert witnesses and even media representatives.

“I believe that such schools are extremely important since the knowledge about human rights is essential not only for lawyers, but also for social workers and other NGOs professionals,” said Oleksandra Delemenchuk, a certified trainer from Ukraine. She added that despite her 10-year experience in coaching, the event made her take a new look at the organisation of interactive education.

The summer school became an important event in preparation for the national advocacy campaign officially titled “Addiction is Not a Crime”, which was launched on June 26 by a number of civil society organisations. The key message of the campaign is that people must not be punished for their addiction. It aims to create space for discussion of this issue and fill the informational gap in the general population that tends to be unaware of the needs and challenges of people who use drugs.

The key partners of the event were Bemoni Public Union, Tanadgoma – Centre for Information and Counseling on Reproductive Health and NGO “The World of Tolerance”.

KYRGYZSTAN: STRENGTHENING CAPACITY OF YOUNG LEADERS

This summer school was aimed at young volunteers to teach them how to conduct formal and informal comprehensive training of their peers on sexual and reproductive health, sexuality, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and reduction of stigma and discrimination of key populations, in particular people living with HIV.

Since 2015 AFEW in Kyrgyzstan works with young people and opened a youth center where they can get consultations on HIV, TB, STDs and drug addiction, and where a social worker can refer them for medical services.  However, it is not easy to attract young people who use drugs into the centre as most of them do not inject drugs and therefore do not consider themselves drug users. At the same time in Kyrgyzstan there are no peer trainers to work with this key population, so preparing such a team is one of the first steps in bridging this gap.

The first training for was mostly focused on sexual reproductive health rights. In a form of various interactive games, group and individual assignments, the participants learned about such concepts as key populations, stigma and discrimination, and human rights. The following days they learned how to clearly explain themselves to retain the attention of the audience.

“Peers – people of the same age and status – can effectively communicate the issues of sexual and reproductive health to youngsters,” said Viktor Malchikov, a trainer from Kazakhstan.

Future young trainers will conduct training sessions in the youth centre, in secondary and vocational schools, and universities.

“Once they gain some experience and demonstrate to us their willingness to continue to train other people, we will educate them further and include more detailed programmes in the curricula,” said Chinara Imankulova, manager of the ‘Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights of Key Populations’ programme in Kyrgyzstan.

Under supervision of their trainers, the summer school participants developed four educational modules for different audiences:

  • ‘Stigma and discrimination’ – designed for the students of Kyrgyzstan’s medical academy
  • ‘Prevention of unwanted pregnancy’ – for female students of pedagogical college
  • ‘All about HIV in a comprehensive way’ – for high school students
  • ‘Prevention of sexually transmitted diseases’ – designed for students of professional colleges.

Adil, one of the training participants, said: “I changed my attitude towards key populations. I now understand that discrimination against them is nonsense and should not be accepted.”

The summer school in Kyrgyzstan was held with financial support from UNESCO cluster bureau (Kazakhstan), ‘Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights of Key Populations’ and the Alliance for Reproductive Health (Kyrgyzstan).

2014 Financial Report of AFEW

AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW) is pleased to present the organisation’s 2014 Financial Report. In this document we describe the financial position and operations of AFEW. The auditors, KPMG, have approved this report for publication.

Please click here to access the report.

“Addiction is not a crime!” – The new national campaign launches in Georgia

On Friday, June 26 (International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking), non-governmental organization “World of Tolerance” in partnership with Bemoni Public Union, Tanadgoma – Center for Information and Counseling on Reproductive Health and ICF “AIDS Foundation East-West” (AFEW-Ukraine), under financial support of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, in the framework of the project “Bridging The Gaps: Health and Rights for Key Populations”, launches advocacy campaign “Addiction is not a crime!” aimed at ensuring human rights of drug users.

Drug problem concerns almost all populations of the society. Drug users are perceived  as criminals, but punishment doesn’t give any results – persons released from prison can’t be immediately freed from addiction. These persons are in need of treatment and support. At the same time, it appears that majority of the general population do not  have sufficient information about these people, their needs and challenges.

The key message of the campaign is that people must not be punished because of their addiction. Campaign’s main objective is to create a space for discussion the problem, fill the gaps in information for general population, etc.

Presentation takes place on June 26, 5 pm, Tbilisi, Europe House (Freedom square 1.)

Addiction is not a crime!