Turkmenistan bans the word ‘coronavirus’

Ashgabat: The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the news agenda across the globe since the start of this year, but in one secretive Central Asian country you won’t even hear the word ‘coronavirus’ mentioned — and its putting its citizens in danger, according to a new report.
In Turkmenistan, which was ranked at the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index in 2019 — one place lower than North Korea — the word ‘coronavirus’ has been removed from the national vocabulary, according to the independent NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The government, led by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who is known in Turkmenistan as the “Father Protector” of the nation, was one of the fastest moving countries in combatting the pandemic by closing its borders in early February.
To date, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported by the authorities, and the media, controlled by the Turkmen government, has removed the world “coronavirus” from every source of public information, from health pamphlets to schools and hospitals, according to RSF. Despite the banishment of the word, leader of neighboring Uzbekistan spoke to the Turkmen President last week, the Uzbek readout of the call made clear that the two discussed a number of measures related to the spread of coronavirus. “Current aspects of bilateral cooperation were discussed, including the priority measures taken in both countries to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection,” according to the readout.–Agencies