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As fighting continues, coronavirus infections rise in Azerbaijan

New coronavirus infections have risen approximately 80% over the past week in Azerbaijan, a World Health Organisation spokesman said on Tuesday. Heavy fighting continues between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces, which has led to a mounting death toll and concerns of humanitarian crisis in the region.

Tarik Jasarevic told a United Nations briefing in Geneva that Armenia’s new cases doubled over the past 14 days as of Monday, warning of “direct disruption to health care and a further burden on health systems that are already stretched during the COVID pandemic,” Reuters reported.

Azerbaijan recorded 3 coronavirus deaths and 277 new cases on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the entrances to two cities, Sabirabad and Shaki, and three villages were closed in response to a spike in cases.

The total of those recovered is now 39,468, while the number of active patients in the country is 2,301. The special quarantine regime, which has been in force since March 24, has been extended until 4 November. “The mobilization of troops for conflict, the displacement of populations because of it all, adds to the ability of the virus to take hold,” Jasarevic was quoted as saying at the conference.

The new fighting, which erupted on 27 September, is the worst since the 1990s war over Nagorno-Karabakh that left about 30,000 people dead.

Despite a humanitarian ceasefire truce signed early Saturday to help the exchange of hostages and fallen soldiers, fighting has not stopped.

Nagorno-Karabakh officials said 542 servicemen had been killed so far, up 17 from Monday. Azerbaijan has reported 42 Azeri civilian deaths and 206 wounded since Sept. 27. It has not disclosed military casualties.

The region of Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, was declared independent by ethnic Armenians living there as the Soviet Union collapsed. An estimated 30,000 were killed when the conflict turned into a full-fledged war,. A ceasefire signed in 1994 under the auspices of Moscow put a fragile end to a large-scale conflict. Peace talks mediated by France, US and Russia were unsuccessful and since then, conflict is volatile, with flare-ups sporadically occurring.

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