Sevan Atayan

Coronavirus in Armenia’s Neighboring Countries, Especially among Turkey’s Istanbul Armenian Community: VIDEO REPORT

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ISTANBUL – One of Armenia’s neighbors, Iran, is among the top 10 countries with over 44 thousand registered cases of coronavirus (numbers change quickly), while Turkey which only on March 9 reported its first positive result of the coronavirus test drastically ascended to the 12th horizontal in the world with almost 10 thousand registered coronavirus-infected citizens.

 

Iran was not only the first state of the region to report about the disease back in mid-February but also was one of the key countries (along with Italy) from which the deadly virus came to Yerevan. Now the virus is also quickly spreading in Turkey. From that standpoint, the decades-long illegal shut-down of the Turkish-Armenian border might, in this specific case, be seen as something that Armenia benefited from: more interaction and border-crossings between Armenia and Turkey might have subjected Armenia to a higher risk of infection.

At this stage, over 500 citizens of Armenia were tested positive for this unprecedented virus. The uniqueness of Armenia’s situation is related also to its diaspora. Both the government and the people of Armenia follow how the virus affects compatriots living abroad. It has been reported that among 2,898 virus-related deaths in Iran, 9 were from the local Armenian community. Their age ranged from 57 in case of the youngest to 94-years old.

Currently Turkey’s death toll of 168 does not include any Turkish-Armenians, as far as is known. However, as Istanbul-Armenian journalist Sevan Ataoğlu reported, as of now two Istanbul Armenians are being hospitalized at Surp Prgich Armenian hospital. “Two buildings of Surp Prgich have been assigned and quarantined for patients affected by coronavirus. Also other infected local residents undergo medical treatment at the Armenian hospital,” Sevan explained via email. He also stated that other Istanbul Armenians affected by the virus are being treated at other medical facilities of Turkey.

Although Azerbaijan has registered 298 coronavirus-infected citizens, it is not excluded that Baku hides the real figures, which might be worse. Earlier this month the Department of State suggested its citizens not travel to Azerbaijan, seeing Armenia’s eastern neighbor as less prepared to meet the challenge.  Baku has reported about five deaths. It has been noted before that the Azeribaijani authorities tend to tweak the real state of affairs in their country in order to portray bigger successes and disguise the shortcomings.

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With 110 positive tests and zero registered deaths Georgia at this point is in the best condition in relative terms in the region. There has been no coronavirus cases reported among the almost 400 thousand Armenian population of Armenia’s northern neighbor.

Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, known as Artsakh, is stated to be coronavirus-free. As Istanbul-based journalist Joshua Kucera reported “In a global pandemic there may be a benefit to be an isolated, unrecognized country.” Although Artsakh been recognized by many local governments, including in the U.S., the logic Kucera suggested was that for NKR it is easier to control the possible spread of the disease. Artsakh has two major roads connecting with the Republic of Armenia and limited air-traffic, which significantly lowers the avenues of the coronavirus’s penetration. With tightened control on the roads Artsakh is holding presidential and parliamentary elections, which are happening today.

The multimedia video segment below represents Istanbul-Armenian reporter and community activist Sevan Ataoğlu’s interview to the Armenian Mirror-Spectator.

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