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WHO DirectorGeneral thanks govt and people of Azerbaijan for contribution to SPRP

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WHO Director-General has expressed gratitude to the government and people of Azerbaijan for contributing to the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP), Trend reports citing the UN Baku office.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made a speech at the virtual Summit of the Cooperation Council of the Turkic Speaking States (Turkic Council).

“Since the beginning of the global spread of COVID-19, the Leaders of the Turkic Council have been cooperating closely, including on sharing hospital facilities, providing humanitarian aid and testing kits, and exchanging clinical expertise and medical support.

This is an example of the kind of cross-border cooperation we need to get through this pandemic.

Since it first erupted more than 100 days ago, the global spread of COVID 19 has overwhelmed health systems, disrupted the global economy, and lead to widespread social disruption.

The fatality rate is estimated to be 10 times higher than influenza.

More than 1.3 million people have been infected, and almost 80,000 people have lost their lives.

So far, the five Member States of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States have reported more than 36,000 cases of COVID-19, and 750 deaths.

Turkey, the most affected so far from your countries, has suffered a dramatic increase in cases and deaths in the past week. WHO is suffering with you and stands ready to provide whatever support we can.

This pandemic is much more than a health crisis. It requires a whole-of-government and whole-of-society response.

In the last 100 days, COVID-19 has shown us the damage it can do in wealthy nations.

We are yet to see the devastation it could cause in more vulnerable countries. We’re committed to doing everything we can to prevent that from happening.

The window for containing the virus at the subnational and national levels is closing in many countries.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, WHO has shipped personal protective equipment and testing kits to the Turkic speaking states.

We have learned much about this new virus since we first encountered it at the start of the year.

While each of your countries is in a different phase of the outbreak, all must have the same focus: to scale up efforts to minimize the impact of the epidemic on health systems, social services, and economic activity.

Restrictive social measures alone only buy us time. Stopping the transmission of the virus requires a comprehensive strategy to find, test, isolate and care for every case, and trace every contact.

At the same time, equitable access to healthcare is critical, especially among vulnerable groups. In the COVID-19 era, access to essential health services must be ensured for all. Otherwise, the outbreak will be harder to control and puts everybody at risk.

National strategies must be supported at the international level in five key areas. These are the five areas WHO is focused on:

First, to support countries to build their capacities to prepare and respond;

Second, to provide epidemiological analysis and risk communication;

Third, to coordinate the global supply chain;

Fourth, to provide technical expertise and mobilize the health workforce;

And fifth, to accelerate research, innovation and knowledge sharing.

Our second Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, to be published in the coming days, will estimate the resources needed to implement national and international strategies during the next phase of the response.

I want to thank all Member States and partners who have responded to our first Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. More than US$800 million has been pledged or received.

I especially want to thank the government and people of Azerbaijan for their contribution of US$ 5 million to the SPRP.

Turkey also deserves recognition for its support of its European neighbors by sending essential supplies.

We’d like to invite all of you to participate in the Solidarity Trial, an international study that will show us which treatments are most effective. Many countries from throughout the world are already participating.

To stop this pandemic, we have to continue and improve on the kind of cooperation that you have already been demonstrating.

We’re all in this together, and we still have a long way to go.

But with solidarity and determination, we will overcome this common threat together,” he said.

News.Az

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Azerbaijani oil prices decline

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The price of Azeri LT CIF Augusta, produced at the Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli (ACG) oil field amounted to $18.6 per barrel on April 24, which is $0.14 less compared to April 23, Trend reports with reference to the country’s oil and gas market.

The price of Azeri LT FOB Ceyhan amounted to $16.56 per barrel on April 24, which is $0.12 less compared to April 23.

Azerbaijan has been producing Azeri LT since 1997 and exporting it via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) and Baku-Supsa Western Export Pipeline, as well as by rail, to the Georgian port of Batumi.

Azerbaijan also sells its URALS oil from the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, delivering it through the Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline.

The price of URALS with shipment from the port amounted to $17.32 per barrel on April 24, which is $0.1 less compared to April 23.

The cost of a barrel of Brent Dated oil, produced in the North Sea, amounted to $16.01 per barrel, indicating a decrease of $0.29.

(1 USD = 1.7 AZN on April 25)

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Six more opposition activists arrested in Azerbaijan

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Six more opposition activists have been sentenced to administrative detention in Azerbaijan in the latest of a series of arrests of members of the opposition. 

On Friday, Nijat Abdullayev, a member of the Supreme Council of the opposition Popular Front Party, was sentenced to 30 days of administrative detention.

The party reported that he was detained by men in civilian clothes while travelling to a grocery store near his home. 

Abdullayev after leaving court. Photo via Ali Karimli.

A day earlier, Faig Amirli, financial director of opposition newspaper Azadlig and assistant to the head of the opposition Popular Front Party, Ali Karimli, was also sentenced to 30 days. 

His wife, Lala Amirli, reported on Facebook on Wednesday that three cars pulled up near their house and the men inside ‘grabbed him by the neck’ and put him in a car and drove away. 

Later that day, two other Popular Front Party members — Ali Karimli’s bodyguard, Ruslan Amirli, and video blogger Natig Izbatov — were also sentenced to 30 days. 

Two members of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Movement (ADR), Shakir Mammadov and Vafadar Aliyev were also sentenced to 15 and 30 days on Monday and Tuesday respectively. 

All six men were found guilty by the court of violating the quarantine regime. 

The Popular Front Party stated that the arrests were politically motivated. 

According to the Administrative Code, violation of a quarantine regime is punishable by fines of ₼100–₼200 ($60–$120) or detention for up to 1 month.

Opposition youth activist ‘warned’

On Wednesday, Ilkin Rustamzade, one of the leaders of pro-democracy youth movement NiDA, reported on Facebook that he expected he might soon be arrested. 

Rustamzade, who recently moved to a rented flat with his wife, said police officers showed up to his parents’ house, where he is registered, earlier that day. After not finding him there, he said officers took his father to a police station before releasing him shortly after. 

According to Rustamzade, the police claimed he had violated the quarantine regime by moving to another flat. 

He said police officers later came to his flat and surrounded the building, but that he refused to leave demanding an official request.

Ilkin Rustamzade during his Facebook broadcast on Wednesday.

‘I moved to the new flat on 2 April and left the house only once by notifying authorities by SMS. Of course, it’s not about the quarantine rules […] it is the continuation of repression against me’, he said. 

According to Rustamzade, ‘about 10 days ago’ he launched a petition urging the government to allocate social benefits to the public and to cancel bank loans and communal bills.

He said that several days later, he received a message on social media from a fake profile who presented himself as a ‘man of the intelligence service’, and warned him that if he did not stop the petition, they would ‘do very filthy things to my wife’. 

Later that day, Rustamzade said that dozens of fake profiles on social media had started writing insulting posts about him and his wife. He said a profile of his wife was created on an escort website.

Later, he reported that their landlord had demanded they move out. 

On Thursday, Amnesty International condemned the harassment of Rustamzade and his family. 

‘Recently, the Azerbaijani authorities have used the COVID-19 pandemic to increasingly crack-down on their critics’, their statement said. 

‘As the arrests and politically motivated prosecution of critics continue, Azerbaijan remains closed to human rights scrutiny.’ 

Rustamzade was pardoned in March 2019 after serving six years in prison on charges of hooliganism, and later ‘inciting violence and organising mass disorder’, for planning a peaceful protest in 2013. 

In a statement on Friday, the National Council of Democratic Forces, an opposition coalition, said the government had been ramping-up its repression of the opposition during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

They urged the Azerbaijani people and the international community to loudly condemn ‘these anti-national and anti-human acts’ and to organise a strong protest campaign to stop the policy.

A new wave of repression

In a speech delivered on 19 March, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev called any opposition group that did not enter ‘into dialogue’ with the authorities, ‘traitors and corrupt representatives of a fifth column’.

‘Look at what they say on social networks, they are full of hatred and provocation. They seem to want riots to happen. They want turmoil. They want panic’, Aliyev said. 

He added that if a state of emergency were to be declared due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ‘isolation of representatives of the fifth column’ would become ‘a historical necessity’. 

Ali Ahmadov, the deputy chair of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, wrote on Facebook on 23 March that there were ‘two viruses’ in Azerbaijan, COVID-19 and the ‘political virus’ that was the opposition, specifically Ali Karimli. He wrote that the two should be fought against at ‘the same time’.

The National Council of Democratic Forces condemned Aliyev’s speech, calling it ‘fascist’. They also accused Aliyev of planning false ‘plots’ that would give him justification for repressing the opposition. 

Two days after Aliyev’s speech, Samir Babayev, a member of the opposition Muslim Unity Movement, was the first opposition activist to be arrested during the pandemic.

He was detained while he and other members of the movement distributed medical masks and information brochures about COVID-19 outside a central metro station in Baku. He was placed under administrative arrest for one month. 

The following day, Tofig Yagublu, an opposition politician from the Musavat Party, was sentenced to three months in prison on the charges of hooliganism.

Tofig Yagublu in front of the Nizami District Court. Photo: Nigar Hazi/Facebook.

Later that day, Anar Malikov, a member of the Popular Front Party, was placed under administrative arrest for 10 days accused of ‘violating quarantine’.

Popular Front Party leader Ali Karimli called Babayev, Yagublu, and Malikov, ‘coronavirus prisoners’.

[Read more on OC Media: Azerbaijan arrests opposition activists during COVID-19 outbreak

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Georgia coronavirus cases reach 385

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The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Georgia has reached 385, according to local media.

So far, 3 patients have died from the infection and 84 others have recovered in Georgia.

Georgia confirmed the first case of coronavirus on February 26.

As many as 4,971 citizens are under quarantine.

News.Az

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