Uzbekistan travel restrictions/reopening Q&A

All about Uzbekistan.
steven
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Re: Uzbekistan travel restrictions/reopening Q&A

Post by steven »

larvoire wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:37 pm

Can I really travel free if my test is negative?
Yes. This was confirmed to me by the Uzbek Tourism Ambassador:
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retiredcouple
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planning ahead - 2022, 23, or 24

Post by retiredcouple »

hello.

first, sharing best hopes that anyone reading and all in their care are well and doing well. that is the most important thing in time when the world is all-in-it-together and all-in-it-apart

we are two retired living in a calm and kind rural area of the usa. two guys, married, together more than 40 years. he is a kid from New York City and i from a farming community in the mountains and valleys of Virginia. for years we had talked of trips into areas of the Silk Road - once we were retired - but of course now is not the best time. one of us will soon receive the two-step Moderna vaccine; the other may have to wait on a protocol in summer 2021. So we are now planning for 2022 at the earliest but 2023 or 2024 suits us too. we know that no-one can predict what any-where will be like that far out but planning is still a good idea, especially with older people who may need to have a more, rather than less, stable plan.

some general questions:
- are we foolish to consider planning that far away?
- are we unwise to consider traveling as a married male couple? or said another way, to which countries would we be most wise, or least wise, to travel?
- I am assuming that older people - we are mid-later 60s, in generally good health, and mobility (we hike a lot but not 8hour hikes and overnight camping like we used to do, we walk 2-4 miles daily presently, etc) - are well respected in central Asia but perhaps there are concerns we should consider (e.g. i recall reading that some prescribed or OTC medications are not allowed, or risky to bring?)

some more specific questions:
- I am discussing with Friendship Force (a cultural exchange, group tour organization) a trip to Armenia and Azerbaijan. we like including dialogue, cultural exchange, service projects, including possible home stays or village stays. would an older male couple tend to be welcome in cultural exchange, service project/learning, dialogue, home stays - or not so much - in the 'stans'.
- we are definitely not going to feel comfortable handling a car. we would likely create 2-3 different bases during a 3-4 week visit, and enjoy a driver to local destinations, or appreciate joining established local tours. should everything we packaged in advance or with exigencies that may occur is it best to arrange local tours/drivers more loosely?
- we are a bit aware to know that in recent decade(s) Uzbekistan has bee the most politically and socially stable and should be the focus of most of our stay. correct? although we would hope against hope to include some other countries: which ones are wisest or best to consider for 2022, 3, or 4?
- have we missed something important that your expertise draws our attention to?

i have looked over numerous companies and services and have feedback from some of them and believe this Caravanistan site may be the most comprehensive, alert, and honest. Am I right? (go ahead, say 'yes!')?

kindly,
retired couple

ps: one is retired from small city government (the revenue side of the city budget) and one is retired from public health (policy and program planning, not as a medical or nursing provider)
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steven
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Re: Uzbekistan travel restrictions/reopening Q&A

Post by steven »

Hi guys,

about lgbt travel, I wrote here: https://caravanistan.com/planning/lgbt/ Basically, If you are an LGBT couple traveling, maintain that you are friends to avoid trouble at hotels, and do not ask for a double bed.

About planning far away: everyone is different in that sense. Let's just keep it at: there is a lot of uncertainty regarding travel in the future and Central Asia is always rather unstable, so it's difficult to predict what 2022 will be like. I don't plan my trips more than a couple days in advance, personally :-)

The banned medicine is a thing of the past, you don't have to worry about that anymore.

About volunteering: you are welcome. But especially in the village, don't make it clear that you are gay. People don't like that.

About booking in advance: if you are coming in the high season, it does make sense to make sure you get the first pick of guides and drivers. It's not necessary, though, you can also organise things last-minute if you prefer to be flexible.

About which country to base yourself in: I would not make decisions based on which country is the most or least stable. I have been traveling here for 15 years, it's all fine. Never been in a riot. It's good to stay flexible, though. Here are my thoughts on that https://caravanistan.com/planning/plan-b/

Instead, I would focus my planning on the places I would like to visit most, rather than what country might close its borders, because it is all very unpredictable. Have a plan if you feel you need one, and have a plan B. You'll be fine.

i have looked over numerous companies and services and have feedback from some of them and believe this Caravanistan site may be the most comprehensive, alert, and honest. Am I right? (go ahead, say 'yes!')?

Yes, obviously! :-)
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Re: Uzbekistan travel restrictions/reopening Q&A

Post by itfcfan »

I've also been trying to get a better idea of the situation in the region. A preprint of this paper was published recently which compares excess death figures to give a less "spinnable" idea of how countries have been affected by the pandemic:
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101 ... 21250604v1

It found there were 19,000 excess deaths in Uzbekistan since the first Covid death was reported. This compares to an official count at the end of December 2020 as 610 Covid deaths. Looking more closely at the data in the paper, most of the excess deaths in Uzbekistan were between August and November. The paper highlights this disparity:
For each country we computed the ratio of the excess mortality to the officially-reported COVID-19 death count by the same date... The undercount ratio typically stayed within 1–3 range (Table 1), but some countries showed much larger values. We found the highest undercounts in Uzbekistan (30), Kazakhstan (12), Belarus (15), Egypt (13), and Russia (6.7). Such large undercount ratios strongly suggest purposeful misdiagnosing or underreporting of COVID-19 deaths (Kobak, 2021).
I'm not suggesting using this paper for working out whether its "safe" to visit any particular countries. But it's a useful data point when thinking about some of the indirect affects of the pandemic (are hospitals going to be available if I need them, what's the likelihood of restrictions changing suddenly, etc).
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Re: Uzbekistan travel restrictions/reopening Q&A

Post by steven »

It seems like Central Asia has achieved some type of herd immunity against the original covid virus. But as Manaus has shown, this does not mean immunity against the next mutation of the virus. So gotta wait for the effects of that.
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Re: Uzbekistan travel restrictions/reopening Q&A

Post by itfcfan »

steven wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 8:05 am
It seems like Central Asia has achieved some type of herd immunity against the original covid virus. But as Manaus has shown, this does not mean immunity against the next mutation of the virus. So gotta wait for the effects of that.
Anecdotally I've heard from quite a few people in the region, "most of my friends were sick at the same time around June/July", "everyone in my family lost the sense of taste for a week", etc so I agree a large number of people were probably infected. But I think it's a big stretch to say the region has herd immunity.

I agree that, so far (thankfully), we don't see as bad a situation that happened in hospitals over the summer (delays measured in days for getting an ambulance, etc). Life seems pretty normal - aside from mask wearing, continued remote learning school/university and a few token closures of cinemas, etc - social distancing was non-existent when I visited in September. But herd immunity isn't the only conclusion. Coronavirus has proven to have a very high dispersion factor (k) - two areas with very similar conditions can have different experiences, for a time at least. Add in travel restrictions (like that that exist both at the country borders and in some cases between regions in countries) and you reduce re-seeding of the virus, further reducing the opportunities for a spike in infections.

The mortality data shows big disparity between different regions. Astana showed ~240% more deaths than usual in July 2020 while East KZ was "only" 40% higher in that month. In November 2020 (the most recent month mortality data has been released for) East KZ experienced 54% higher deaths than usual, while Astana was also up 38% for the month. Schools were closed (for the few groups they'd previously been open for) in Astana last week due to a large number of infections detected in students/pupils) - I think it's likely there's still a significant pool of susceptible people around.

I find it frustrating there hasn't been a government/academic study published about the number of infections across the general population in the region. A study across a representative sample of ~20,000 people would be really insightful. Maybe someone on here has seen something - please share if you have! The closest thing I've seen so far are press releases from Olimp Laboratory in KZ, but its hard to take anything from their data because its from people who had a reason to take an antibody test (i.e. most of them would have had symptoms so decided to check afterwards if it really was Covid). Their data showed:
"62% have antibodies to coronavirus, of the people who passed ECL analysis for COVID-19 in the OLIMP CDL from July 28 to August 4"
https://www.kdlolymp.kz/news/62-kazahst ... -4-avgusta
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Re: Uzbekistan travel restrictions/reopening Q&A

Post by bwv812 »

I don't believe there has been anything approaching herd immunity in the region.

Also, even if we ignore the fact that there aren't a lot of serological antibody surveys to test for the prevalence of infection even in western countries, it's hardly a surprise that governments in Central Asia wouldn't want to have such data publicly available, as the data would almost certainly show just how much they have been downplaying the threat and under-reporting cases (and this would be especially true if they did have herd immunity, as it would mean that most people have been infected at some point).
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steven
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Re: Uzbekistan travel restrictions/reopening Q&A

Post by steven »

bwv812 wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:05 pm
I don't believe there has been anything approaching herd immunity in the region.
This does now seem to be the majority opinion in the medical community, with antibody tests in Kyrgyzstan for instance showing that more than 50% of people had already had antibodies in cities by early August. https://24.kg/english/172305_Health_Min ... yrgyzstan/

Like I said, a second bout with a mutated version of the virus is absolutely in the cards, and we don't know how long natural immunity lasts, that's another discussion.
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Re: Uzbekistan travel restrictions/reopening Q&A

Post by bwv812 »

I remain skeptical.

According to that article, 6% of those with antibodies were hospitalized, and if over 50% of the country has been infected (and note that herd immunity isn't projected until over 80% are protected), that would suggest that 3% of the country has been hospitalized for Covid in the past year. I highly doubt the data would bear this out.

It's difficult to evaluate the reporting since we don't see the underlying data or methodology, but based on prior reporting it seems clear that this wasn't a purely randomized, representative survey, as an earlier report indicates that "[a] total of 4,691 people were examined, including 794 health workers," and I'm pretty sure 17% of Kyrgyzstanis are not health workers.

https://24.kg/english/172312_COVID-19_d ... September/

Also, the serological data was collected between July and October, but the huge increase in Covid cases and deaths between September and October strongly suggests that there was no effective herd immunity in October.
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Re: Uzbekistan travel restrictions/reopening Q&A

Post by itfcfan »

steven wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 9:12 am
...antibody tests in Kyrgyzstan for instance showing that more than 50% of people had already had antibodies in cities by early August. https://24.kg/english/172305_Health_Min ... yrgyzstan/
Thanks for sharing that report Steven. Notwithstanding the points bwv812 raised about how (un-)representative it might be, it's useful to have more data points. It's the first community seroprevalence report on Covid I've seen from Central Asia!
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