A school building in Sida, another village in the Gali region. (DFWatch.)

GALI, DFwatch–In the village of Tagiloni in the Gali district of breakaway Abkhazia, there has been an explosion of cases of an illness locals suspect to be Covid-19, following a burial feast held ten days ago.

Locals reached out to DFWatch, to appeal for help from Tbilisi, saying there is a severe shortage of medical resources on the ground. They ask the Georgian government to at least offer patients phone consultations, as is the case in Georgian-controlled territory.

The locals asked DFWatch to deliver this message to the Georgian government.

“There is now no family which does not have at least one person who is bedridden. Everyone has the same symptoms, several have been tested and [Covid-19] confirmed. However, not everyone has access to tests, there is a severe scarcity in medical resources and assistance,” said a woman from Tagiloni.

Locals believe the outbreak is linked to a kelekhi – a traditional burial feast – that took place in the village ten days ago. It was a funeral of a 40-year-old man who had died of cardiovascular disease, although locals suggest the cause was Covid-19.

“At the time, no one thought that the reason could be Covid-19. One developed a blood clot. He had had no prior medical condition. Consequently, the locals buried him  traditionally and held a big kelekhi, and within a few days everyone started having the same symptoms. People lack medicines, and no one is getting proper medical assistance on the spot. We find ourselves in dire straits,” she said.

The villagers are appealing to the Georgian government for help and to provide medical resources on the spot.

However, they acknowledge that it would be impossible to bring all the patients to Rukhi hospital, which is located on the Georgian-controlled side in the vicinity of the administrative boundary line dividing Georgia proper and Russian occupied Abkhazia. They say their demands are minimal.

“On-site assistance is required here. Local resources cannot be provided and people do not trust [local authorities], so if possible, maybe the government will provide at least phone consultations, as is done in the territory controlled by Georgia,” said an elderly woman who lives in Tagiloni.

A teacher from a local public school tested positive during a routine check by the de facto government, but the school is still open. The authorities only suspended classes in the one group of pupils which the teacher was responsible for. For the rest of the school, classes will resume on Monday.

“The number of students is decreasing every day. Most of them walk from Tagiloni’s first neighborhood, where the Covid-19 explosion occurred. Many people here are in a serious condition,” one of the school teachers told DFWatch.