|COVID-19 pandemic in Kazakhstan|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Arrival date||13 March 2020|
(1 year, 6 months, 1 week and 1 day)
The COVID-19 pandemic in Kazakhstan is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was confirmed to have reached Kazakhstan on 13 March 2020. It involved two Kazakh citizens in Almaty who were recently returned from Germany. That same day, two more cases were confirmed with one female arriving from Italy in Nur-Sultan and the other from Germany in Almaty as well.
On 15 March, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared a state of emergency from 16 March to 11 May 2020. Many holidays such as Nowruz and the Victory Day military parade were cancelled.
On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.
On 15 March, President of Kazakhstan introduced a state of emergency throughout the Republic of Kazakhstan for the period from 8:00 a.m. of 16 March until 7:00 a.m. of 15 April. By 16 March, the number of cases increased by seven, making the total at the time nine, two in Almaty and seven in Nur-Sultan. A quarantine was imposed on Almaty and Nur-Sultan after cases increased overnight to 33, having 15 and 18 cases respectively.
On 20 March, a first case of the coronavirus was confirmed by two passengers from the Minsk-Nur-Sultan flight, which made an emergency landing in Karaganda. That same day, 8 cases were confirmed, bringing the new total to 41.
On 24 March, for the first time, three cases were confirmed in Shymkent by a man who arrived on 20 March from Nur-Sultan by a passenger bus and in Zhambyl by a man who arrived from Kyrgyzstan, and in North Kazakhstan by a woman who arrived from Russia.
On 26 March, two patients were discharged in Nur-Sultan and Almaty, and that same day, a first death from COVID-19 was reported in Nur-Sultan, which was 64-year old resident from the village of Kosshi.
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In Nur-Sultan, confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased dramatically, as did pneumonia cases in general (possibly an indication that many patients are not being tested for COVID-19).
An apparent spike in cases on July 1 was caused by the government changing how it reported cases. Starting on that day, asymptomatic cases were included in the total.
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Cumulative cases, recoveries and deaths per day
New cases per day
New deaths per day
Cases per regions
Kazakhstan has spent $13 billion on pandemic response amounting to more than 8 percent of GDP.
On 24 January, Almaty International Airport staff and Almaty medical brigades had a medical exercise. The situation where a plane arrives from China with an infected passenger was simulated. Also, disinformation was spreading through messengers about infected people in Almaty. It was disproved by the Minister of Healthcare.
From 26 January 2020, sanitary and epidemiological control at checkpoints across the border was strengthened, and training exercises were held. In addition, medical monitoring was provided for people arriving from China, and the 72-hour visa-free stay for Chinese citizens in Kazakhstan was suspended.
The country faced a shortage of medical masks in pharmacies. Subsequently, it was reported that speculators who bought masks sold them at higher prices.
On 27 January, an interdepartmental commission was created under the Kazakh government to coordinate activities to prevent the occurrence and spread of the coronavirus. It was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Berdibek Saparbayev, which included all the intrigued governmental bodies and akims of the regions and cities of Nur-Sultan, Alma-Ata and Shymkent.
As of 28 January, more than 1300 Kazakh citizens are in China, more than 600 of them are tourists, mostly visiting Hainan. The government of Kazakhstan is ready to evacuate the 98 Kazakh students in Wuhan. Also, Kazakhstan plans[needs update] to temporarily stop trains between Ürümqi, Xinjiang, China and Kazakh cities.
On 29 January, the commission decided to suspend the issuance of visas to Chinese citizens, and starting from January 29 to suspend passenger bus services between Kazakhstan and China, from 1 February to suspend passenger trains along the routes between Kazakhstan and China, and from 3 February to suspend regular air traffic between Kazakhstan and China. A proposal to transfer the Federation Cup qualifiers from the Chinese city of Dongguan to Nur Sultan from February 4 to 8 was rejected by the International Tennis Federation. The Asian Water Polo Championship was also canceled from 12 February to 16.
On 31 January, a second stage of strengthening sanitary and epidemiological control had started. 150 sanitary and epidemiological service specialists were additionally sent to quarantine centers at all borders, a laboratory diagnosis of the virus was established, and clinical treatment protocols and algorithms of anti-epidemic measures were approved.
On 2 February, 83 Kazakhs were evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the COVID-19 pandemic began, of which 80 were students. After being inspected, the arrivals were placed in quarantine for 14 days in a specially designated building at the multidisciplinary hospital that was located 7 km from Nur-Sultan. On 5 February, by the request of the Kazakh government, another 8 Kazakhs were evacuated from Wuhan by the assistance of Russia and Uzbekistan. 5 citizens were under medical supervision in Tashkent for two weeks, and the other three in Tyumen.
From 20 February, a methodology had been introduced for ranking countries into 3 categories, depending on the degree of risk of the spread of the coronavirus. Depending on the level of risk, people arriving from countries that were facing serious outbreaks according to KVI, faced monitoring.
On 23 February, a flight carrying passengers from Tokyo to Nur-Sultan was quarantined which included 20 Kazakhs and 4 people from the Diamond Princess cruise, that faced the outbreak of the COVID-19 on board. The investigation did not reveal the presence of virus.
On 26 February, a decision was made starting from 1 March to suspend flights from Iran and limit the number of flights to South Korea from 9 to 3 per week. On March 2, it was also decided to introduce from March 5 a temporary ban on Iranian citizens entering Kazakhstan and to suspend the Nur-Sultan-Baku flight, limit the number of flights of the Almaty-Baku route from five to one per week, and on the Aktau-Baku route from seven to one per week.
From 1 March, the Ministry of Health introduced the fourth stage of strengthening. Travelers arrival from category 1a countries were placed in quarantine for 14 days, and under medical supervision for 10 days. People arriving from category 1b countries were placed in home quarantine for 14 days. By the decision of the sanitary service, these arrivals could be quarantined in a medical facility. People arriving from countries of the second category were under medical supervision at home for 14 days, followed by a 10-day call. Others who arrived from countries of the third category were remotely monitored for 24 days. The ministry said that there were no cases of virus in which the statement received criticism from the public which claimed that the coronavirus was already in Kazakhstan considering its close proximity and shared border with China that remained open for a while prior. This led to many rumors that the Kazakh government was purposely hiding the cases of COVID-19 in the country to which the Minister of Information and Public Development Dauren Abaev dismissed these claims on 12 March.
On 15 March, President Tokayev imposed a state of emergency from 8 am on 16 March 2020 to 7 am on 15 April 2020. He also on 17 March ordered the cancellations of both the Nowruz celebrations as well as the military parade in honor of the Second World War's the 75th anniversary on Victory Day (9 May).
For the duration of the state of emergency, the following measures and time limits were introduced:
- The protection of public order, the protection of especially important state and strategic, especially regime, sensitive and specially protected objects, as well as objects ensuring the vital activity of the population and the functioning of transport, have been strengthened.
- The function of large trading facilities is limited.
- The activity of shopping and entertainment centers, cinemas, theaters, exhibitions and other objects with a large crowd of people is suspended.
- Quarantine is introduced, large-scale sanitary and anti-epidemic measures are carried out, including with the participation of structural units of the Ministry of Defense and internal affairs bodies operating in the field of sanitary and epidemiological welfare of the population.
- It is forbidden to conduct entertainment, sports and other public events, as well as family, commemorative events;
- Restrictions are established on entry into the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as on exit from its territory by all means of transport, with the exception of personnel of the diplomatic service of Kazakhstan and foreign states, as well as members of delegations of international organizations traveling to the country at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan.
From 19 March, around the border of several regions of Kazakhstan and large settlements, round-the-clock sanitary posts were posted.
On 19 March in the cities of Nur-Sultan and Almaty, by the decision of the State Commission for ensuring the state of emergency, a quarantine was introduced which included restrictions on the entry and exit of people. Under the quarantine, entry to these cities was restricted, roadblocks were set up at the entrances to cities. Large shopping malls in the cities were closed, with the exception of grocery stores and pharmacies. To pass truckload of food, a “green corridor” was organized. Several residential complexes and high-rise buildings were isolated in Almaty after detection of the coronavirus in residents. Territories of houses were cordoned off, a checkpoint was installed around the perimeter. According to the rules of quarantine, none of the residents could leave the residential complex or receive guests.
On 22 March, the entrances and exits from Almaty and Nur-Sultan have been completely blocked, including for air and rail services. Only after that day, trains can only transit without passengers disembarking and boarding. By the decision of the operational headquarters to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Nur-Sultan, all air passengers arriving from abroad were forbidden to travel to the city without passing analysis and obtaining results on the virus. Arrivals from abroad were accommodated in hotels deployed as medical hospitals, where health workers took tests. The mayor of Almaty, Bakytzhan Sagintayev said that to support the people who found themselves in difficulty, he agreed with the monopolists to defer payments on all utility services, including an elevator and garbage collection. Also, service providers did not disconnect debtor consumers from electricity, water, heat, gas, and telephone communications during the quarantine period.
On 26 March, the quarantine regime had been tightened in Almaty. All the objects of trade and services were closed in the city, except for food stores and pharmacies.
On 28 March, by the decision of the State Commission for the state of emergency, the quarantine had been strengthened: in Nur-Sultan and Almaty, the exit of citizens from their places of residence became limited, with the exception of the purchase of food, medicine and going to work. All crowded places were closed, public transport is limited, a ban on gathering on the streets and in public places by groups of more than three people, unaccompanied adults, with the exception of family members, became prohibited. A 14-day quarantine was also introduced in the “20 Years of Independence” housing estate in the Abay district of Shymkent with the organization of a house-bypass. The city also suspended the activity of the airport, railway and bus stations, kindergartens. A ban was placed on entry and exit on the territory of the city of Shymkent from 21:00 to 07:00, public catering facilities public transport was also limited.
From 30 March to 5 April, in Nur-Sultan and Almaty, the activities of all enterprises and organizations were suspended, regardless of ownership, with the exception of central government bodies, mayors, law enforcement agencies, healthcare organizations, the media, grocery stores, pharmacies and life support organizations.
On 30 March, a quarantine was placed in Atyrau and Karaganda, with its satellite cities of Abay, Saran, Temirtau, Shakhtinsk. A special regime was introduced in Aktau and a regular meeting of the regional headquarters on the state of emergency took place. In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the territory of Pavlodar region, it was decided to strengthen the existing sanitary and anti-epidemic measures and introduce additional measures. Nine roadblocks were put up around the entire perimeter of the region, residents were restricted from leaving apartments and houses after 22:00, except for going to pharmacies and grocery stores within the radius of their residence, to work and cases of seeking medical help, the disinfection and anti-epidemic regime was strengthened, including public transport, crowded places, shops, shopping centers and houses, residential buildings, and at bus stops.
On 31 March, the entrance to the Kostanay region was closed. A quarantine was introduced to the Akmola and West Kazakhstan region, and a number of restrictive measures were established in the city of Shymkent and the regions of Aktobe and Zhambyl, including closing the entrance and exit from the region.
On 1 April, quarantine was placed in Pavlodar and North Kazakhstan regions and both the Nursultan Nazarbayev Airport and Almaty Airport have stopped accepting all international and evacuation flights.
On 2 April, an entry and exit to the quarantine zone of the Karaganda Region was completely closed, and the activities of airports, air and railway stations have been discontinued. A quarantine was introduced to the cities of Ust-Kamenogorsk and Semey. In addition, additional restrictive measures have been introduced in the Kordai District which are a ban on grazing and the use of public transport.
On 11 May, the quarantine ended in Kazakhstan.
In July a new 14-day lockdown, less strict than the earlier one, was introduced in response to rising case numbers. On July 13, President Tokayev announced that the lockdown would be extended by two weeks to last until the end of July.
In late July, an additional lockdown beyond the one set to expire on August 2 was announced. This will extend for two weeks in August.
Kazakhstan has provided regional neighbors with relief aid.
Kazakhstan has created its own COVID-19 vaccination, QazCovid-in, developed by the Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems. On 7 April 2021, the healthcare minister Alexey Tsoi announced the Kazakh government had requested 4 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, in addition to 2 million doses already received earlier in 2021, as part of an ongoing vaccination programme alongside QazCovid-in.
Genetic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 in Kazakhstan
Virus sequencing efforts identified representatives of five of the eight global SARS-CoV-2 clades circulating in Kazakhstan early in the pandemic. Most SARS-CoV-2 isolates in Kazakhstan belonged to clades O or S, descendants of the early Asian lineages. Researchers hypothesized that the high prevalence of O and S sub-types in Kazakhstan suggests that COVID-19 was imported into Kazakhstan weeks prior to the international travel ban declaration. Interestingly, other virus strains described in Kazakhstan clustered with viruses from Europe, while the Kazakhstan O clade isolates grouped with Middle Eastern (particularly, Iranian) strains. A unique lineage (B.4.1) is thought to have risen independently in Kazakhstan. These data are in line with the evidence that southern Europe and the Middle East were early points of COVID-19 introduction and spread. Presence of multiple clade G lineages indicated multiple independent importations from Europe and the Americas into Kazakhstan.
The total cost of anti-crisis measures amounted to over 4 trillion tenge. These expenses were provided at the expense of the state budget in the amount of 2.1 trillion tenge, attraction of funds for infrastructure bonds, guaranteed transfer from the National Fund for 1.8 trillion tenge.
To support businessmen whose financial situation worsened due to the state of emergency, the government of Kazakhstan provided an exemption from payment of taxes until 31 December 2020 which were: property tax for legal entities and individual entrepreneurs at large retail facilities, trade entertainment centers, cinemas, theaters, exhibitions, and fitness and sports facilities, land tax on agricultural lands of agricultural producers, individual income tax of individual entrepreneurs working in the generally established taxation procedure. President Tokayev also suspended interest on unfulfilled tax liabilities until 15 August 2020 and postponed the deadline for submitting tax reports for the third quarter of 2020.
Working citizens of Kazakhstan who lost income during a state of emergency due to being forced to leave their jobs without pay received financial support from the state social insurance fund. The amount of social benefits per employee amounted to 42.5 thousand tenge per month.
On 31 March 2020, President Tokayev on-air spoke about additional opportunities to support the public and businesses in connection with the state of emergency, including an indication of pensions and general benefits, including targeted social assistance, providing coverage with additional social benefits by 10% in annual terms, extend the list of categories of citizens who were supposed to be provided with free grocery and household sets from 1 April to 1 July, supporting farmers to timely carry out spring field work, and provide work around large quarantined cities for small and medium business for 6 months.
The postal service suspended international mail to many countries.
- Johns Hopkins University
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