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Uzbekistan resumes some COVID-19 lockdown measures

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Uzbekistan has decided to limit the public’s movements within red and yellow zones amid increasing numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the country’s Special Republican Commission to Combat Coronavirus said on Monday.

The commission, which has divided the country into red, yellow and green zones depending on the level of severity of COVID-19 spread early this month, said residents are not allowed outside their homes from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. in red and yellow areas except for medical purposes.

The Uzbek authorities said clothing markets and large shopping malls will be closed on weekends, and gatherings of more than three people in public places will be banned in red and yellow zones.

So far, Uzbekistan has registered 8,298 COVID-19 cases, 24 deaths and 5,496 recoveries.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

11 suspected terrorists detained in Uzbekistan

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Uzbekistan‘s law enforcement bodies have detained 11 suspected members of the Islamist militant group Katiba al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, the Uzbek Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

The suspects were arrested on Tuesday after the police and the state security forces carried out operations in 8 sites in Tashkent city in search of material evidence of their illegal activities, police said.

According to a police statement, the detainees fell under the influence of militants operating in the ranks of an international terrorist organization in Syria, and planned to travel to the Middle East.

Last month, Uzbek law enforcement bodies arrested 25 men believed to have affiliation to the same militant group. Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court listed Katiba al-Tawhid wal-Jihad as a terrorist organization in 2016.

(XINHUA)

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Uzbekistan creates anti-corruption agency in bid to bolster international image

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Uzbekistan has created an agency to combat corruption harmful to the country’s economy and international image, the Uzbek Justice Ministry said Monday.

The agency reports directly to the president and is accountable to the Oliy Majlis, the low and upper chambers of the parliament, the ministry added.

Earlier this year, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.proposed setting up an independent body to fight corruption.

Since Mirziyoyev took office in 2016, Uzbekistan has taken a series of measures to promote economic reforms, including liberalizing its foreign exchange market, reducing taxes and offering preferential treatment to foreign investment.

(XINHUA)

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Uzbekistan incinerates over half ton of drugs

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Uzbekistan‘s law enforcement bodies have burned over half a ton of drugs, including 4.9 kg of heroin, to fight the inflow of narcotics from neighboring Afghanistan, Uzbekistan National News Agency reported Friday.

The drugs, seized by Uzbek drug enforcement agencies, were incinerated at a metal factory outside the capital of Tashkent, the agency said.

According to the National Information and Analysis Center for Drug Control under the Cabinet of Ministers, 5,026 narcotics-related criminal cases were registered in Uzbekistan in 2019.

(XINHUA)

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ADB approves 500 mln USD to help Uzbekistan combat COVID-19 pandemic

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday approved a 500 million United States dollars loan to help the government of Uzbekistan mitigate the adverse health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Manila-based bank, the sharp contraction in global economic activity due to the pandemic and wide-ranging containment measures introduced in Uzbekistan have caused growth projections to drop to 1.5 percent this year from 6 percent forecast before the pandemic.

Around 80 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) suspended their activities following the nationwide lockdown, and unemployment is expected to jump to 16.5 percent this year from 9.4 percent in 2019, the bank added.

The ADB said its COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program will help to fund the government’s comprehensive COVID-19 pandemic response plan.

“The program will strengthen the readiness of the country’s health care system by helping procure medical supplies such as ventilators, testing kits, and appropriately sized personal protective gear, including individual packages for female health workers,” the ADB said.

Moreover, it said the program will also help prepare additional hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, and quarantine complexes for dealing with COVID-19 cases.

It further said that health workers who are on the frontlines of combating the pandemic will be supported through salary supplements in the form of hazard pay.

The bank said that the loan will support initiatives to help businesses affected by the downturn and minimize job losses. Moreover, the bank said the loan will also help expand Uzbekistan’s existing social protection system during the pandemic.

The ADB said the loan is funded through the COVID-19 pandemic response option (CPRO) under ADB’s Countercyclical Support Facility.

The ADB said it has provided 1.56 million United States dollars in grants and technical assistance to procure medical supplies for Uzbekistan’s COVID-19 response. Loan savings of 19.5 million United States dollars were also reallocated from an existing ADB project to procure 800 ventilators, it added.

(XINHUA)

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Uzbekistan to open 10 airports for foreign airlines from August

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Uzbekistan will introduce an open-skies regime at 10 airports beginning August 1 to boost foreign tourist arrivals, the Ministry of Transport said Wednesday.

The new regime will allow all foreign airlines to fly from their own countries to Uzbekistan and fly on to a further destination in a third country. The regime is valid for two years and may be extended later depending on conditions at Uzbek airports, the ministry said.

Under the open-skies regime, foreign airlines can perform international passenger flights to designated Uzbek airports without restrictions on the number of flights.

The 10 designated airports are at Karshi, Nukus, Termez, Bukhara, Navoi and Urgench among other sites.

The new rules also include international cargo flights.

The Uzbek government has since last year taken a series of measures to boost tourism. The central Asian country plans to attract more than nine million foreign tourists by 2025, with its tourism industry to be lifted to five percent of gross domestic product from 2.3 percent in 2017.

(XINHUA)

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Uzbekistan to allocate 100 mln USD soft loans to service sector

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Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.has signed a decree to provide 100 million United States dollars of soft loans to the country’s service sector to overcome the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and create more jobs, the president’s press service said Tuesday.

The funds will be allocated both through state and private banks with a rate of no more than central bank’s 15 percent basic rate, it said.

Uzbekistan has allowed most of the service sector, including cafes and restaurants to reopen this week and the service sector is one of the main sources of employment both in cities and in rural areas.

The service sector’s share in the country’s gross domestic product is 35 percent and it needs further development, according to the statement.

So far, Uzbekistan has registered 5,328 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 19 deaths and 4,019 recoveries.

(XINHUA)

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Uzbekistan allows some premises in low-risk areas to reopen 

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A customer has her body temperature checked before entering a restaurant in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, June 15, 2020. Restaurants, clothes markets, private preschool education institutions and long-distance bus services in low-risk areas in Uzbekistan are allowed to reopen since June 15. (Photo by Zafar Khalilov/Xinhua)

(XINHUA)

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Uzbekistan opens borders for foreign diplomats, investors and students

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Uzbekistan will open its borders on Monday for people of certain categories and resume some international flights, the country’s special commission to combat coronavirus said on Sunday.

Diplomats and their family members, representatives and specialists of foreign companies, students, and those seeking medical treatment can enter or leave Uzbekistan, the commission said.

Uzbekistan will mark the inbound flights with red, yellow and green, according to the level of severity of the country-of-departure’s epidemic situation, it said.

Visitors with the green flights, for example those from Japan, South Korea, China and Israel will not be placed under a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, according to the commission.

And passengers with the yellow flights — from the EU countries, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore — will be put under home quarantine.

Uzbek authorities also said that passengers on red flights — those from the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia and other Commonwealth of Independent States countries — will be put under a 14-day quarantine.

Uzbek students and those seeking medical treatment from abroad can enter the country, it said.

So far, Uzbekistan has confirmed 4,966 COVID-19 cases, with 19 deaths and 3,910 recoveries.

(XINHUA)

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Uzbekistan applies for new trade benefits from EU

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Uzbekistan has officially applied for the status of beneficiary country to the European Union (EU)’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus scheme, Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade said Saturday.

The GSP Plus scheme will provide Uzbekistan an opportunity to significantly increase its exports to the EU and raise the competitiveness of its domestic goods in the European market, the ministry said.

The scheme removes import duties from products coming into the EU market from vulnerable developing countries if they assume certain burdens and responsibilities.

Uzbekistan currently enjoys basic benefits from the scheme, but upgrading its status will allow the Central Asian nation to raise the number of commodity items it can export to the EU without import duties from its current amount of 3,000 to 6,000, according to the statement.

(XINHUA)

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