“Autumn will be even worse” – journalist’s letter criticizing gov’t response to pandemic causes stir in Azerbaijan
TV presenter and blogger Azer Garib published an open letter on his Facebook page in which he accused the Azerbaijani authorities of taking an irresponsible attitude towards the coronavirus pandemic and criticised the deplorable state of the healthcare system.
Garib is indignant about the fact that the authorities are holding the public responsible for the continuing rise in coronavirus cases, saying that people simply aren’t complying with the quarantine requirements enough.
“We’ve been under quarantine for four months, and we haven’t seen any progress.
“People don’t believe the virus exists because they do not believe [the authorities].”
The post received a lot of support among the Azerbaijani population, and within a day, had received more than 16,000 likes and was re-published more than 8,000 times.
As of July 8, there are 21,374 reported coronavirus cases in Azerbaijan. Of these, 265 have died and 12,635 have recovered. For several months now, the country has been under an almost constant strict quarantine regime, with only a few breaks. Shopping centers are closed and the metro has stopped running. Public transport is shut down on the weekends, and most businesses are closed. One of the main restrictions is on movement. People are required to stay at home, and can only go out for two hours a day, and only after receiving special SMS permission from the authorities.
It will be worse in autumn
Azer Garib wrote the open letter in response to statements made at the most recent press briefing by representatives of TƏBİB, the official structure responsible for combating the coronavirus pandemic in Azerbaijan.
In particular, they reported that in other countries, and not just in Azerbaijan, the situation is deteriorating again and there is a rise in coronavirus cases. Therefore, the strict quarantine is justified. Moreover, it was reported that the situation may get even worse in the autumn.
“What does this warning mean, that the situation will get worse? Then why are we suffering, what’s the point of the quarantine?” writes Azer Garib.
“Scientists all over the world are literally shouting that people need vitamin D. And we, who live in a city by the sea, are locked in our homes. Yes, the doctors are right: in autumn, it will be even worse, because now, people are deprived of the sun, sea air, and don’t have the opportunity to strengthen their immune system, which will hurt them enormously in the autumn.”
Garib asked the Coronavirus Operational Headquarters talk about other countries that were successful in combating the pandemic.
“Why don’t you tell us about Georgia? Why don’t you tell us that Britain, which introduced quarantine later than other countries, has already lifted their strict quarantine? Why don’t you comment on the example of Belarus?”
Azer Garib said the quarantine regime that has been implemented in Azerbaijan for the last four months was like “a game of roulette.”
“Let’s close the subway. No, let’s open the subway. Let’s set up [police] posts. No, let’s remove the posts. Let people out of the house. No, lock people in their homes. Why has it been impossible to coordinate between the various government institutions over the past four months in order to develop a unified policy?” the journalist writes.
“Doctors should educate the population. They must explain that even if you get sick with a coronavirus, this does not mean that you will die from it,” the journalist writes.
Instead of accusing people of not complying with quarantine, it is better to give them hope that the measures taken by the government will lead to an improvement in the situation, because then, they will adopt them, the letter says.