COVID-19 in North and Central Asia: impacts, responses and strategies to build back better

The impacts of COVID-19 threaten to put a hold on progress for the sustainable development agenda and erase gains made thus far in the North and Central Asian subregion. By recognizing that it is not a zero-sum game between enacting COVID-19 recovery measures and achieving the 2030 Agenda, countries can align recovery packages with the principles of sustainable development. This will help countries get through this crisis better and prepare the subregion to handle other impending crises more efficiently. Countries in the subregion have quickly implemented strict measures to curtail the spread of the pandemic. The rising numbers of infected patients exposed the limited capacity of public health systems in the subregion to accommodate such an upsurge in demand for health-care services. Governments scrambled to overcome the bottlenecks of limited hospital beds, insufficient protective equipment and overstretched health-care personnel, and to procure testing facilities. Existing social protection facilities were built upon to provide support to affected social groups in normal conditions.