Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Kazakhstan introduces quarantine in East Kazakhstan Region from April 18 to combat coronavirus. Other restrictive measures still in effect.

This alert affects Kazakhstan

This alert began 17 Apr 2020 14:52 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Kazakhstan will introduce a quarantine regime in the East Kazakhstan Region from 0001 April 18 until the end of the nationwide state of emergency, scheduled for April 30, in order to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 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. Additionally, authorities have introduced strict quarantine measures in the South-East Micro-District of Nur-Sultan, including Abylay Khan Avenue and Shakarim Kudayberdiuly Avenue; the area has been cordoned off by police checkpoints. A permit is required to enter and exit the area.

While COVID-19-related restrictions remain in effect, authorities have announced a tentative relaxing of restrictions in Almaty in three stages from April 20. From this date, workers in the manufacturing industry, construction workers, and government employees at various levels may return to work, provided employers take appropriate health screening precautions. Dates for the second and third stages are unconfirmed. Authorities in Almaty also extended a ban on public events and mass gatherings to June 30.

Authorities previously extended the nation's state of emergency and all related restrictions through April 30. Strict quarantine measures that were imposed earlier 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 may generally include one or more of the following:

  • Closure of 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


Healthcare workers, security forces, and other essential workers, including those in retail, are typically exempt 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. All international passenger flights serving Nur-Sultan (TSE) and Almaty (ALA) have been suspended, with the exception of humanitarian, cargo, and repatriation flights.

All public spaces are closed nationwide. Public transport is greatly 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.

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 has 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.

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

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