Omicron Continues to Spread in Kazakhstan, Top Health Officials Recommend Strict Measures

NUR-SULTAN – On Jan. 18, Kazakh Minister of Healthcare Azhar Giniyat reported that COVID-19 cases have increased by 19.6 times over the past month.

Photo credit: The press service of Nur-Sultan city administration. Click on the picture to see the map.

Daily laboratory testing has increased by 3.5 times and reached 50,000 tests per day. Despite the incidence rate, the mortality rate has decreased by 2.5 times over the past day. 

The number of hospitalized patients has increased by two-fold, and the outpatient level by five-fold in the past month.

Chief State Sanitary Doctor Yerlan Kiyasov.

As of Jan. 17, Nur-Sultan, Almaty, and Shymkent cities, Atyrau, Almaty, Akmola, Aktobe, East Kazakhstan, West Kazakhstan, Zhambyl, Mangistau, Karaganda, Kyzylorda, Kostanai, Pavlodar and North Kazakhstan regions are in the red zone. Turkistan is the only region in the yellow zone.

The ministry introduced new restrictions amid the spread of Omicron. People who can prove recent recovery from COVID-19 or provide proof of a full vaccination course (green status in the Ashyq system) are able to access trade malls and karaoke bars. SPA, sports and fitness centers are also open only for people with green status from Jan. 13. 

All passengers including vaccinated ones arriving to Kazakhstan from the foreign countries should provide a negative PCR test (no more than 72 hours should pass from the day of collection of biomaterials till the moment of arriving to Kazakhstan).

Given the gravity of the situation, Chief State Sanitary Doctor Yerlan Kiyasov gave an extended interview to Kazakhstan’s state owned news agency Kazinform. 

Among other things he mentioned how the recent events of the tragic January affected the work of the medics. Kiyasov said that an armed group of protesters attacked some hospitals and workers, destroyed ambulances during recent events in the country. “The Ministry of Healthcare organized an operational headquarters functioning round-the-clock. We took all measures to ensure timely medical assistance to people. Doctors continued to work despite the extreme situation,” he said.    

Speaking about the dangers of the Omicron variant he said it is more concentrated in the young adult group (20 to 30) compared with other types of coronavirus in Kazakhstan. A higher relative risk of reinfection has also been observed. “International tourism and offline communication contribute to the rapid spread of coronavirus. The New Year holidays and recent events in Kazakhstan undoubtedly had an impact on the increase in the incidence rates. We see a sharp increase in the cases due to the Omicron circulation,” Kiyasov told Kazinform.

Kiyasov reminded that vaccination is a viable alternative to self-isolation and lockdown globally. It is important to achieve the required level of herd immunity to prevent the appearance and spread of new strains.

More than 9 million people have been vaccinated with the first dose and 8.6 million people have had the second dose, according to the recent Healthcare Ministry press release. The total vaccination coverage stands at 75.1 percent. 

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