By Agence France-Presse
Nineteen staff in the office of Azerbaijan’s president have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said, as authorities in the repressive Caucasus nation struggle to contain an escalating crisis.
A further 13 infections were also confirmed among employees of the emergency situations ministry and the ministry of labour, anti-virus task force spokesman Ramin Bairamly said late Tuesday.
Azerbaijan has registered 98 deaths and a total of 8,191 coronavirus cases after a 23-percent increase in new infections from last week.
The oil-rich country initially imposed a state of emergency in late March to contain the outbreak. It was lifted along with most anti-virus restrictions on May 31.
“Nineteen cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed among the employees of the Presidential Administration,” said Bairamly.
“In the ministry of labour seven people were infected, in the emergency situations ministry – five people.”
The ex-Soviet republic’s authoritarian president Ilham Aliyev said Tuesday that the relaxation of anti-virus measures had led to an “acceleration of new infections.”
“But the situation is fully under control,” he said in televised remarks.
In a renewed effort to contain the outbreak, Aliyev imposed a two-day lockdown in several regions and cities including the capital Baku.
He said the stay-at-home order will be in place again next weekend.
Azerbaijanis are only allowed to leave their homes for urgent medical treatment and to attend the funerals of close relatives during the lockdown.
Public transport and all non-essential businesses except those in the oil industry and in cargo transport are also ordered to close.