Turkmenistan has reportedly banned the word 'coronavirus' in public spaces and in the media. The government has reportedly barred the state-controlled media from writing or uttering the dreaded word and ordered its removal from health brochures distributed at hospitals, schools, and workplaces. Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has been ruling the country since 2006 with an iron hand. The country, neighbouring Iran, has moved to suppress information about the pandemic. Iran has one of the highest rates of Covid-19 cases in the world.
People wearing masks and those talking about the disease in public can be arrested. Police in plain clothes roam around to spy on the public in Turkmenistan.
Reporters Without Borders reported Ashgabat journalists writing about the choices by the government. Citizens have access to very little unbiased news as the government controls most of the information provided to the public.
Talking in a code language
Residents are said to be talking in coded language about the disease.Turkmenistan has said that it has no cases of coronavirus. The safety measure enforced by the country refers to protecting against "illness" and "acute respiratory diseases," Radio Free Europe says. Health experts are treating information about no cases with suspicion since Turkmenistan borders Iran.
Reporters Without Borders has also said that the restriction on information about Covid-19 will endanger people. Turkmenistan ranked last in the World Press Freedom Index in 2019.
The curbs and lack of information from the Central Asian country have evoked a lot of suspicion from the rest of the world, even as other countries in the region have reported coronavirus cases. But there has been a lack of transparency and communication from quite a few countries in Central Asia.
According to reports, there have been 44,600 infections and nearly 3,000 deaths in Iran.