Coronavirus Cases Growing in Kazakhstan, Officials Remain Cautious But Optimistic

NUR-SULTAN – Coronavirus cases continue increasing in Kazakhstan, Kazakh government officials said during a Nov. 23 meeting of the commission focused to fight the coronavirus infection, the Kazakh Prime Minister’s press service reported.

Over the past day, the daily increase in coronavirus cases reached 678 bringing the number of COVID-19 cases to 126,860. As of Nov. 24, 1.945 people have died from coronavirus. Kazakhstan also had 41,203 coronavirus-related pneumonia cases since Aug. 1 and 428 people who died from it. 

As the world witnesses a new spike in coronavirus cases, many countries, including those who had apparent success in addressing the initial outbreak, struggle now in the face of another coronavirus wave. 

In Kazakhstan, the reproduction number or R value, which refers to the average number of people that one infected person will infect, is estimated at 1.07. The officials in Kazakhstan and abroad are trying to keep the figure below 1, as the R value higher than 1 would keep the epidemic growing. 

Currently, five regions in Kazakhstan are in the red zone, where the R value exceeds one. These are East Kazakhstan, Pavlodar, Kostanay, North Kazakhstan and Akmola regions. West Kazakhstan Region and Nur-Sultan city are in the yellow zone. 

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Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin instructed the Ministry of Healthcare to ensure the full readiness of intensive care units in infectious hospitals and take measures to ensure the reliability of laboratory tests for coronavirus infection.

Currently, infectious hospital beds are occupied at 22 percent, while intensive care beds at infectious hospitals are occupied at 17 percent. 

The laboratories will also be integrated into the unified information system by Dec. 1 to ensure transparency.

Last week, Kazakh Healthcare Minister Alexey Tsoy said the epidemiological situation follows an optimistic scenario.

“A comparison between the forecast as of Sept. 7 and as of Nov. 10 shows that the epidemiological situation in Kazakhstan has been following an optimistic scenario. This means that the worst-case forecast was avoided due to the measures taken, which made it possible to shift the potential lockdown back by one month,” said Tsoy addressing the meeting via video. 

Speaking at the same meeting in October, Tsoy outlined three scenarios for how the situation might unfold. 

“According to the worst-case scenario, if a mask regime is followed with only 60 percent compliance, the number of confirmed cases in October-December this year will amount to nearly 190,000 and 65,000 will then need intensive hospital care. Lockdown will then be inevitable by mid-December,” said Tsoy back then. 

The second realistic scenario envisioned compliance with social distancing measures and the mask regime by 70 percent. In this case, the number of cases from October to December will reach approximately 90,000, and 30,000 will need to be hospitalized with a lockdown by January.  

The optimistic scenario depends on 100 percent mask compliance and the number only reaching 40,000 with 15,000 requiring hospitalization.

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