TASHKENT (Reuters) – Uzbekistan is locking down the cities of Samarkand, Namangan, Andijan and Gulistan, as well as the whole of Surxondaryo province to prevent the spread of coronavirus, their respective municipal authorities said on Thursday.

Uzbekistan, which has already locked down its capital Tashkent, has reported 65 cases of the disease, including some in the densely populated Fergana valley where Namangan and Andijan are located.

Samarkand, a popular tourist attraction, Gulistan and the southernmost Surxondaryo province have so far reported no cases of the disease.

Uzbekistan has closed its borders and made protective masks mandatory in all public areas.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has also ordered the government to borrow up to $1.1 billion abroad to finance measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus and counter its impact on the economy.

Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Toby Chopra, Andrew Heavens and Alex Richardson

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