The coronavirus pandemic has not respected human borders, rampaging across the globe and infecting over half a million people worldwide. Unrecognized territories haven’t been spared the brunt of the pandemic – though accurate numbers from self-declared countries can be hard to come by. In Abkhazia and South Ossetia especially, unrecognized territories in Georgia.
“It was impossible even to check whether somebody had coronavirus or not,” said JAMnews editor-in-chief Margarita Akhvlediani. “The biggest problem probably is not just the [coronavirus] tests in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but the problem is that they have just one intensive care ward, and they don’t have specialists at all...they have just one lab, and the lab isn’t prepared as well in South Ossetia.”
And with the Russian borders closed to those territories, they can’t even rely on their usual benefactor. Instead, some in the territories have turned to religion as a defense against the pandemic, with a church in Abkhazia organizing a 15 km religious procession on March 27. Unfortunately, such measures may do more harm than good – public gatherings of any type present a perfect way to spread the coronavirus disease.
“The situation is really dubious, I would say,” commented Akhvlediani. And the territories haven’t even reached out to the countries they are nominally a part of – the Georgian government offered coronavirus testing assistance to both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, only to see their efforts rebuffed.
“Georgia announced that it is ready to send some tests and even express test systems, and its ready to help with medications and with doctors...but it was not accepted, and there was a reply from the governments of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia that they don’t need it and they’re going to somehow survive by themselves,” explained Akhvlediani.