NUR-SULTAN – The epidemiological situation has been worsening in Kazakhstan and with the Delta variant detected in the country, concerns are growing. As of July 8, only two regions – the East Kazakhstan and Turkistan regions – remain in the green zone, according to the matrix of the epidemiological situation updated daily by the Kazakh Ministry of Healthcare.
Kazakhstan’s biggest cities, Nur-Sultan, Almaty, and Shymkent, as well as Akmola, Atyrau, West Kazakhstan, Karaganda, Mangistau, and Pavlodar regions, are in the high-risk red zone.
Almaty, Aktobe, Zhambyl, Kostanay, Kyzylorda, and the North Kazakhstan regions are in the yellow zone.
The state commission to prevent the spread of COVID-19, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov, gathered on Thursday, July 8 to discuss the current situation. Kazakh Minister of Healthcare Alexei Tsoy reported the rising coronavirus cases in all regions forcing the officials to tighten restrictive measures.
Over the past two weeks, Mangistau Region saw the number of cases growing 2.7 times, and the Aktobe Region by 2.1 times.
Overall, there have been 445,091 coronavirus cases since the pandemic started, and 57,490 coronavirus pneumonia cases.
Over the past day alone, the country confirmed 2,800 new cases. Nur-Sultan, Almaty, and the Karaganda region have the country’s highest number of cases, and in Nur-Sultan, the number of new cases is almost twice the number of new cases in Almaty.
The city officials also deployed additional facilities for COVID-19 patients.
“We have an increase in the number of cases in June and July. If you remember last summer, these months were when cases were at their peak. It is all because it is hard to keep people home. They visit mass gatherings and do not comply with sanitary requirements. Many people also take vacations. Students are on their breaks. This all leads to increased morbidity and higher hospital bed occupancy,” said head of the city’s Public Health Department Timur Muratov.
Tugzhanov said the increased morbidity is linked to the low rate of vaccine rollout in these regions. He stressed the need to speed up the vaccination nationwide.
Officials have repeatedly urged the population to get the jab as soon as possible as new variants are far more contagious and dangerous. The young population is now susceptible to the new variants.
The risks posed by the slower pace of vaccination are amplified by the circulation of new variants in the country, including the delta variant.
“Mutations in a virus occur very frequently. A virus is an extracellular life form covered by a protein shell, and in order to survive, it needs to adapt. And unfortunately, it adapts faster, and each new mutation is stronger. It makes infection more contagious and changes the course of the disease,” said Rafail Kipshakbaev, Ph.D. and Associate Professor at the Department of Epidemiology and Evidence-based Medicine of Kazakhstan Medical University.