NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan will extend its initial two-week lockdown by two weeks through Aug. 2 in an effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus infection, said Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on his Twitter.
Kazakhstan introduced its second coronavirus lockdown July 5, after the nation witnessed a surge in the number of coronavirus cases. As of July 14, Kazakhstan reported 61,755 COVID-19 cases and 375 deaths.
This lockdown, however, is not as harsh as the one introduced in March until May. International and domestic air travel remains, while bus routes between cities as well as public transport are suspended. Nonessential businesses such as beauty and hair salons and gyms are closed again.
Public gatherings of more than three people as well as mass events, including family and holiday gatherings, are prohibited and people older than 65 years old are expected to stay home.
Tokayev said that the two weeks will be decisive and will be needed to further stabilize the situation.
“Quarantine is necessary to protect the health of the citizens given they observe strict self-protection measures,” he wrote on Twitter on Monday, noting that the first signs of improvement were there.
He also stressed the “critical importance of precautionary measures,” including social distancing and wearing masks.
“Without it, there will be no positive outcome in the fight against the pandemic,” he said.
Kazakhstan also reported a rise in pneumonia cases, an accompanying condition to the COVID-19 infection. According to the Kazakh Healthcare Ministry, the incidence rate grew by 55 percent over the past six months compared to 2019. 1,772 people died of pneumonia since the beginning of the year, including 628 in June. The World Health Organization said on Friday that these cases might be “undiagnosed cases of COVID-19.”
During the July 14 government meeting, Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin told the ministers to develop an additional action plan to support businesses and population in case the social and economic situation worsens.
During its first strict lockdown from March until May, Kazakhstan committed more than six trillion tenge (US$14.6 billion) to support businesses and citizens that lost their jobs and their incomes.
More than four million citizens in the country of 18 million received financial assistance and to continue supporting them amid the new restrictions, the government will provide a minimum wage amount of 42,500 tenge (US$103) to citizens, whose incomes have been disrupted by the current lockdown.
More than one million people, primarily from socially vulnerable groups, will receive financial aid to buy essential food products, as well as targeted social assistance.