Kazakhstan to Gradually Lift Lockdown Restrictions 

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakh Healthcare Minister Alexey Tsoy spoke about how Kazakhstan plans to lift lockdown restrictions from Aug. 3 during a July 28 government meeting, reported Kazakh Prime Minister’s press service. 

Photo credit: primeminister.kz

Kazakhstan has been in a one-month lockdown since July 5, which it had to enforce following the surge in the number of coronavirus cases after the nation eased its first lockdown restrictions in May. As of July 28, Kazakhstan reported 84,648 cases and 585 deaths. 

“Based on the developed criteria on easing quarantine measures, the ministry is monitoring the basic reproductive number (R0 pronounced as R-naught), which refers to the average number of people who will contract a (contagious) disease from one person with that infection before isolation and the occupancy rate of hospital beds for coronavirus patients,” said Tsoy. 

In three weeks, the R0 went down from 1.2 to 0.99, while the bed occupancy rate decreased from 90 percent to 47 percent. 

The minister said that the nation had 35,951 new cases since July 5 and noted a 29 percent decrease in the number of cases.  

“Therefore, these positive dynamics in the healthcare system indicate a possibility for a steady easing of quarantine,” he said. 

The government will allow trade centers, closed food and non-food markets, education centers, kindergartens, beauty salons, hairstyle salons to reopen, so long as R0 remains below one and the bed occupancy rate below 70 percent. 

Entertainment centers, cinemas, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, culture facilities, gyms and religious places will remain closed, said the minister. 

Companies will need to have at least 80 percent of their workers continue working remotely. 

“As for sports, individuals and group outdoor training will be allowed, but only while observing social distancing as well as training for national teams for no more than 30 people,” said Tsoy. 

Public gatherings of more than three people as well as mass events, including family and holiday gatherings, will be prohibited as before. 

Public transport hours will also be restricted. 

Tsoy said safety and healthy habits should be spreading, not coronavirus. Staying home if feeling unwell, basic hygiene rules and physical distancing where possible still remain critical to curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“For that, it is important to ensure people continue wearing masks and observing hygiene rules. We all know that wearing masks may reduce infection transmission by 30 percent,” said the minister. 

He suggested increasing oversight of businesses to ensure workers and customers wear masks, locations have hand sanitizers in all public places and awareness-raising work is being conducted across all information channels. 

“I would like to stress that further stabilization of the situation depends on the coordinated work and involvement of all sectors of the economy. The effectiveness of the stabilization measures depends upon the quality of medical care and epidemiological measures, but only by about 30 percent, while the remaining 70 percent is all about complying with the mask regime and the hygiene rules (30 percent) and practicing social distancing (40 percent),” said Tsoy. 

Tsoy earlier said that the number of daily coronavirus cases is currently around 1,600, which he described as a positive indicator. 

“We need to improve the current figures. Today, the healthcare ministry presented a plan for the gradual lifting of restrictions. Taking into account the current dynamics, we will review this plan during the meeting of the state commission and will make a final decision,” said Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin. 

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