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Central Asia virus responses run gamut from crisis to nonchalance

Pandemic tests economies, health systems, China ties -- and folk remedies

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- As COVID-19 infections rose in its Central Asian neighbors, Tajikistan went about its business as usual, holding lavish spring equinox celebrations in late March.

With no recorded novel coronavirus cases, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon put his faith in hygiene. "Keeping homes clean and observing sanitary standards is one of the finest qualities of our people," he told a packed sports stadium in the northern city of Khujand on March 22. "And especially in situations when all kinds of infectious diseases are spreading fast."

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