Russian billionaire of Uzbek origin, Alisher Usmanov, has donated $20mn to a charitable organisation in Uzbekistan to help equip a hospital to be constructed for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients outside the capital Tashkent, the UzNews.uz news service has reported.
Usmanov is widely known in Uzbekistan as a philanthropist who has contributed to major social projects. The businessman told bne IntelliNews in March that he gave “several hundred million dollars” to Uzbekistan last year and was also financing the construction of an Islamic centre in Tashkent, among other things.
The $20mn donation has been allocated to the Mercy and Health Foundation under the Uzbek Health Ministry, the news outlet said.
As of April 3, Central Asia’s most populous nation had registered 221 coronavirus cases, including two deaths.
Uzbekistan is currently constructing 10 hospitals across the country to help treat coronavirus infections, Trend news agency reported on March 26, citing the health ministry. They will be located in Andijan, Navoi and Surkhandarya regions.
The authorities also ordered the transformation of a new building, originally constructed as part of the Tashkent Dental Institute in the capital’s Yashnabad District, into a modern 250-bed medical facility. The building is set to be put into operation in May.
Moreover, 55 hectares of land in Tashkent Region’s Yukorichirchiksky District have been allocated for the construction of a quarantine facility which officials intend to build within a short period of time. Another similarly large institution is set to be constructed in Zangiata District.
Uzbekistan has announced lockdowns of the cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Namangan, Andijan and Gulistan along with the entirety of Surkhandarya Province as part of its efforts to contain its coronavirus outbreak. All businesses in the locked down cities except for food and medicine retailers are where possible switching to remote work, while public transit has been shut down.
Two of the cities under lockdown, Namangan and Andijan, are located in the densely populated Fergana Valley.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev ordered Uzbekistan’s government on March 19 to borrow up to $1bn abroad to assist with financing measures to be introduced to help address the virus outbreak and its impact on the economy. Uzbekistan could lose around $1.1bn from forecast export revenue in 2020 due to the global economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, lowering its GDP projection to 3.7% instead of the previously projected 5.5%, the Uzbek authorities have said.
Uzbekistan has previously announced the closure of its borders and made it mandatory for everyone to wear masks in all public areas.