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Abkhazia’s deputy health ministry says reopening border with Russia risks healthcare system’s collapse

The deputy health minister of the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia, Alkhas Kondzhariya, warned over the weekend that the decision to reopen the border with Russia on August 1 will increase the spread of coronavirus. 

Abkhazia has reported between eight and nine new cases of COVID-19 each day since reopening to Russia, which is apparently enough to overwhelm the small self-declared republic’s medical system. “Already at this stage,” Kondzhariya said, “we know that it will be extremely difficult to manage this influx of patients. Add to our population those who are entering and we’re simply ‘going under’ and we won’t be able to treat either our citizens or anyone else.”

Kondzhariya criticized the government’s decision to reopen the border with Russia completely for all travel without any additional restrictions. He said the Health Ministry wanted to limit entry to persons who tested negative for COVID-19.

On the first day that Abkhazia resumed travel with Russia, roughly 7,500 people crossed the border. 

As of August 1, Abkhazia had reported 98 coronavirus infections, including three fatal cases. Thirty-seven patients have already made full recoveries. In 2018, Abkhazia’s total population was roughly 245,000 people.

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