No COVID-19 in Turkmenistan, but Officials Moved to Resort

Published: 25 March 2020

repetek turkmenistan

The Repetek Nature Reserve is 60 kilometers from Turkmenabat, the capital of the Lebap region and Turkmenistan’s second-largest city. (Photo:

By Ekaterina Selivanova

Although the government of Turkmenistan hasn’t confirmed any cases of coronavirus, many senior officials in the eastern Lebap Region aren’t taking any chances: They moved to a local nature reserve along with their families to avoid the outbreak, local media reported on Monday.

The highly-placed judicial officials, along with their wives, children, and parents, are living in 15-20 tents, put up several miles apart in the Repetek Biosphere State Reserve, according to Chronicles of Turkmenistan.

The arid, sandy territory, some 60 kilometers southwest of the regional capital Turkmenabat, was officially declared a natural reserve during the Soviet era. It is one of Turkmenistan’s hottest regions.

Every morning, top prosecutors, regional administrators, and judges head to work in Turkmenabat in their official vehicles. They return late in the evening, their trunks full of food products and other purchases, reserve staff say.

All international flights headed for Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, have been rerouted since early March to Turkmenabat due to the pandemic. Normally, all arriving travelers have to go through strict, often hours-long procedures aimed to identify infected passengers.

Those with a fever are sent into isolation, but even healthy people can be quarantined if they arrive on the same flight.

However, the outlet reported earlier that police and health officials at the airport have been accepting bribes to enable passengers avoid quarantine.