How is coronavirus effecting life in Kyrgyzstan?
We asked our wonderful interpreter and fixer of everything in Kyrgyzstan how life is in the Kyrgyz Republic at the moment. Here is what Kenje has to say...
Q: What is the Kyrgyz Government doing to control the spread of CV?
Kenje: First three cases of coronavirus were found from the southern part of our country by March 18 and by March 30 it has reached to 1845 and 17 deaths among them. Due to epidemiological situation of coronavirus infection the government officially declared the state of emergency on March 20 in all parts of the country. Anti-epidemic measures were organized everywhere in the country from rural areas to urban areas even there weren’t any cases in order to prevent its further spread. All patients with COVID-19 were isolated and their all contacts were under home-based observation. All local authorities and civil society supported the situation in order to stop its spread by cooperating actively with the government, the Ministry of Emergencies and the Ministry of Health. All citizens were asked to observe personal hygiene measures strictly, recommended by the MOH. Citizens in home quarantine had to strictly abide by the prescribed home observation measures. Citizens can address questions regarding the actions and prevention of coronavirus to the coronavirus on the given contact numbers. On March 22, the authorities halted public transportation and banned taxis. The special passes were needed to get through the checkpoints for cars in use. Many organizations had to work remotely, studies in all educational organizations were conducted online and via TV. The mobile internet was given to teachers and students for free through mobile operators.
Q: What are the restrictions on the people?
Kenje: People had to leave their living areas only with 3 reasons; to the hospital, to the shop for food and to chemist’s or to work if they are allowed. Other movements except those were restricted, soldiers and police patrolled the streets. People on the streets had to present them their papers and a self-declaration form showing where they had come from and where they were headed, and why. All bars, clubs and restaurants were also closed because of the state of emergency. Many organizations had to shorten the number of employees temporarily. People couldn’t walk in the park for the fresh air, do some sport activities, move from one town to another town, visit their family and kids were not allowed to play in the gates of their block of apartments.
Q: Are the rules realistic for the people to follow?
Kenje: Some of those rules such as restriction of your movement walking in the park and playing outside caused depression to people. I can personally share my feelings and the feelings of my compatriots that we felt as if our each step was observed and we needed at least to go out for the fresh air in order to support our health condition. You don’t need to go to the shop or hospital every day but our body needs oxygen, fresh air is must. I heard some people expressing their thoughts that they I felt physically unwell from self-isolation in their apartments. It was a real tough time for parents who had to take care for their children since they were staying homes with full of energy who wanted to run and jump. The kids had a really heavy time, they were glued to computers studying online.
Q: How is this effecting you and your family?
Kenje: My family members keep their work and their salary is kept. Thanks to God my family doesn’t have COVID-19. Everybody is healthy and safe since my hometown wasn’t effected by coronavirus. I live in Bishkek, the capital city and my family live in the village. They are busy with agriculture and farming works as usual. They are a little worried that the price of food is slightly rising from day to day. Living in the capital city I faced all restriction during the quarantine and worked remotely. It was a hard to adapt to those restrictions in terms of moral and physical statement.
Q: How is this effecting other people?
Kenje: From my observation and information from social media many people have problems with transport to reach work since not everybody has a car and all transport services were banned. In terms of salary almost all government organizations kept their salary and some organizations got less salary than the usual ones. Private organization workers stayed without salary, they are people who worked in the markets or who own small businesses, or hired drivers for public transport services etc.
Q: Do you still have work / an income?
Kenje: The Language school where I worked couldn’t provide all teachers with online classes since many students didn’t prefer having remote learning. I stayed jobless due to this situation but as many people know me as a teacher they wrote me personally with the request to teach them online. Fortunately, I was busy with tutoring online whole lockdown period, even my friends and my roommate decided to have classes with me. My current income is less than before, but it is sufficient for my living expenses. I was hoping to work for tour company during summer and it expected less tourists, probably no tourists for this season which means income lost for me.
Q: Is there any government support for people if they lose their income?
Kenje: Government supported the people such as invalids, homeless and jobless people and they opened a special pandemic fund where people ask for help by contacting them. The other people who stayed without salary keep surviving somehow relying on their own savings or with the support of their communities.
Q: Are there any GOOD things that have come out of this for you?
Kenje: COVID-19 has taught our people to cycle more and use vehicles less. If I see only one or two cyclists before it is possible to see hundreds of them today. The air has become cleaner and parks have become totally green and clean without any rubbishes. I hope our nation can lead healthier way of life with this tendency. People started to value their families more and to support charity activities by helping people who are in need. The IT skills of many employers have been improved. Some people became very good cooks and they learned to do sport activities staying at home using internet.
Q: What are you doing for fun?
Kenje: I gained a new cooking skill with the help of Facebook cooking classes. I walked a lot rather than using the transport, start doing Pilates and Yoga at home and in the park.