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Fighting Between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh Helping Spread Virus, Says WHO

For representation: Smoke rises after shelling by Azerbaijan's artillery during a military conflict in Stepanakert, the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, on October 9, 2020. (AP Photo)

For representation: Smoke rises after shelling by Azerbaijan's artillery during a military conflict in Stepanakert, the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, on October 9, 2020. (AP Photo)

More than two weeks of conflict between the Caucasus rivals has left almost 600 dead, according to partial tolls, as fighting breaches a Moscow-brokered ceasefire signed last week.

Fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has helped spread the coronavirus in the territory, the WHO said on Tuesday.

More than two weeks of conflict between the Caucasus rivals has left almost 600 dead, according to partial tolls, as fighting breaches a Moscow-brokered ceasefire signed last week.

“As we have been repeatedly saying, Covid 19 does not respect borders or lines," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said at a press conference.

“The mobilization of troops for conflict, the displacement of populations because of it all, adds to the ability of the virus to take hold."

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He said the WHO will continue to support virus responses in countries and is expanding its operations to tackle increasing health needs.

The WHO said fighting has disrupted already stretched healthcare systems and both countries have seen increases in virus transmission.

Armenia’s newly reported cases have doubled over the past 14 days and in Azerbaijan new cases have increased by approximately 80% over the past week.

The outbreak of fighting is the latest in the disputed region and the most intense since a 1994 ceasefire ended an initial post-Soviet war.

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first published:October 13, 2020, 17:55 IST