Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Kazakhstan officials extend State of Emergency through at least May 11 due to COVID-19; some restrictions to ease.

This alert affects Kazakhstan

This alert began 27 Apr 2020 12:20 GMT and is scheduled to expire 11 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 11
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
Officials have extended the state of emergency introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through at least May 11. Strict quarantine measures remain in force in a number of cities and regions nationwide, including Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent, Aktau, Karaganda, Shakhtinsk, Saran, Temirtau, Abay, Atyrau, Kostanay, Aktobe, Pavlodar, Mangystau, Kyzylorda, Taraz, North Kazakhstan, and Kyzylorda. Specific restrictions vary by location, but will generally include one or more of the following:

  • Closure of many nonessential businesses and government offices; prohibition on the sale of nonessential goods.
  • Reductions or suspensions of public transport services.
  • Stay-at-home orders and/or localized curfews, with exceptions for performing essential tasks or traveling to/from employment at an essential business or organization.
  • Limitations or prohibition on entry into and exit from locations under quarantine.
  • School closures.
  • Limitations or prohibitions on the use of private vehicles.
  • Limitations on open hours for businesses - in some cases including essential businesses, such as markets and pharmacies.
  • Airport, seaport, railway station closures.
  • Ban on public gatherings.


Additionally, the quarantine regime in East Kazakhstan Region has been extended through May 11. Movement in and out of urban centers in the region is prohibited. Police checkpoints erected on intercity and regional roads April 15 will now enforce the movement restrictions. Authorities will permit essential travel 0500-0900 and 1800-2100. Travel within urban centers in East Kazakhstan will be prohibited at night, on weekends, and during public holidays

Healthcare workers, security forces, and other essential workers, including those in retail, are typically exempted from stay-at-home orders and curfews. Pharmacies and financial institutions remain open. 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.

While most COVID-19-related restrictions remain in effect, authorities have announced a tentative relaxing of some measures from April 27. From this date, workers in manufacturing industry, construction workers, transport workers, and financial workers will be permitted to return to, provided employers enact strict health and hygiene precautions. In Nur-Sultan and Almaty, workers in further limited sectors will also be permitted to return to work under the same conditions. Additionally, passenger air travel between Nur-Sultan (TSE) and Almaty (ALA) will resume from May 1, initially operating four flights per day.

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 move effectively banned entry into the country, except for returning Kazakh citizens, diplomats, and those invited by the government; Kazakh citizens are also not allowed to leave the country. Officials will hold individuals entering Kazakhstan from abroad for two days for laboratory testing. The restrictions do not apply to freight transport, though delays are likely at checkpoints due to increased checks.

The duration for which the restrictions will remain in place and how vigorously officials will enforce them will almost certainly depend on the extent and duration of disease activity. Further extensions and changes in the restrictions are likely.

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.


 


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