Kazakh Capital Reaches Yellow COVID-19 Danger Area, Sees Surge in COVID-19 Cases

NUR-SULTAN – The Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan has entered the yellow COVID-19 danger zone, as the city witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases. Nur-Sultan Akim (Mayor) Altai Kulginov warned citizens to follow the quarantine restrictions and to take measures to protect themselves and others, including social distancing and wearing masks. 

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The rising number of coronavirus cases excludes the possibility of easing quarantine restrictions, he said. 

Сurrently, national companies and private firms must have at least 60 percent of their employees work from home. Operating hours of cafes and restaurants are restricted to 10 p.m. 

Trade malls are closed for weekends, while nightclubs, bars, karaoke, computer clubs and children’s entertainment centers remain closed. 

“Due to the increasing number of COVID-19 infections, the city has entered the yellow zone. At this stage, there can be no question of easing the quarantine. As of Nov. 11, 47 cases were reported. Everyone must understand the severity of the situation so that small and medium-sized businesses do not close one by one, checkpoints are not set up around the city and the city itself does not go into lockdown,” Kulginov said. 

The Akmola region that borders the capital is also in the yellow zone, while East Kazakhstan, Pavlodar, West Kazakhstan and Kostanai regions are in the red zone. Other regions remain green. 

The decision on three zones depends on two factors – reproduction number, or R-value, which refers to the number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, on average, and the incidence rate per 100,000 of the population over the last seven days.

In the regions classified as the yellow zone, the coronavirus incidence rate is between 25 and 50 cases per 100,000 people, and the R-value is more than one. 

The red zone includes regions where there are more than 50 cases per 100,000 people, and the R-value exceeds one. 

Over the past two weeks, the number of coronavirus infections has been growing nationwide, said Kazakh Deputy Healthcare Minister and Chief Sanitary Doctor Yerlan Kiyasov. 

“Compared to the previous week, the coronavirus incidence rate has increased 1.7 times. 45 percent of the cases in the country are in the East Kazakhstan Region. A significant increase is being observed in the Kostanai Region by 4 times, in the West Kazakhstan Region by 3.2 times, and in the Pavlodar Region by 2.7 times,” said Kiyasov during an online briefing.

Kazakhstan has recently strengthened sanitary-epidemiological and migration control measures at the state border.

The authorities are working to ensure COVID-19 testing availability at all healthcare facilities. More than 3.6 million tests were performed. The laboratories perform more than 76,000 tests on average per day. The current test capacity (per 100,000 people) has almost doubled since July – from 213,000 to 370,000 tests per 100,000 of the population. 

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