Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Kazakhstan to quarantine additional cities and regions from 2100 April 6 to stem spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This alert affects Kazakhstan

This alert began 06 Apr 2020 10:36 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Kazakhstan will impose additional, strict quarantine measures in Aktobe from 2100 April 6 in order to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). A similar quarantine regime will be imposed in the entire Qaraghandy Region from 2359 April 6 and in the city of Taraz, the administrative center of Zhambyl Region, from 2100 April 7. Entry and exit of all persons and vehicles to and from the aforementioned locations is prohibited from the times indicated, with the exception of healthcare workers, emergency services personnel, security forces, other essential workers, and freight vehicles. Most public offices will close; only state institutions responsible for social welfare and assistance will remain open. Public transport operating hours and frequency will be significantly reduced. All educational facilities and kindergartens will be closed.

The new restrictions will apply in addition to preventive measures previously introduced by the authorities. All nonessential businesses are closed nationwide and selling nonessential items is prohibited; supermarkets may only sell food and essential household items. Pharmacies and financial institutions also remain open. Internal movement restrictions and curfews are already in effect in numerous cities and regions. Security forces have erected checkpoints and restricted traffic on roads leaving the following locations: Akmola Region, Aktobe Region, Almaty Region, Kostanay Region, Kyzylorda Region, Pavlodar Region, Shymkent Region, Zhambyl Region, Petropavl in North Kazakhstan Region, and Oskemen and Semey in East Kazakhstan Region. In addition, a 2200-0600 curfew has been introduced in Pavlodar Region.

All international passenger flights to Nur-Sultan (TSE) and Almaty (ALA) have been suspended with the exception of humanitarian, cargo, and repatriation flights. Authorities in Nur-Sultan and Almaty have extended a mandatory stay-at-home advisory through April 13; further extensions are likely. Healthcare workers, security forces, and other essential workers, including those in retail, are exempt from the advisory.

Additionally, all public spaces are closed, public transport has been severely reduced during the day and ceases at night, gatherings of more than three people from different households are banned, and minors may not leave their homes unless accompanied by an adult. It is unclear how long these measures will be in effect. Authorities announced that additional quarantine zones may be introduced to specific areas of these cities, with movement between the zones tightly enforced, depending on disease activity.

Kazakhstan closed its borders and declared a state of emergency March 15 following the first confirmation of COVID-19 cases in the country March 13. The measures effectively bar entry for all people into Kazakhstan, except for returning citizens, diplomats, and those invited by the government; Kazakh citizens are also not allowed to leave the country. The restrictions do not apply to freight transport, though delays are likely at checkpoints due to increased checks.

All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Kazakhstan correspond with similar actions taken by other governments globally in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Minimize movement within quarantine zones and allow additional time for travel. Reconfirm all flights. Reconfirm business appointments. Follow all official directives. Abide by national health and safety measures. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Prepare for freight delivery disruptions. Consider delaying or detouring goods. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
Kazakh Government Coronavirus Portal: https://egov.kz

World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int