Kazakhstan's COVID-19 Strategy: Chronology, Measures, Results

published 2020-05-11 00:05:00

INTRODUCTION

Since the beginning of 2020, the whole world has been facing major challenges due to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. This refers to a serious disease affecting the human respiratory system, potentially leading to physical complications up to a fatal outcome.

It is worth noting that coronaviruses constitute a large group of viruses with proven pathogenic properties in relation to humans or animals. A number of them may cause respiratory infections in humans ranging from common colds to more serious conditions [1]. As for COVID-19, the disease is caused by the last of the recently identified coronaviruses, which previously had been unknown. It transmits from human to human by airborne droplets through coughing or sneezing, or by contact through touch.

The first manifestation of this disease, which may resemble pneumonia in some respects, was noted in Wuhan City (China) at the end of December 2019. The source of the infection spread was the local Huanan Animal and Seafood Market. Later on, this process reached epidemic proportions, spreading to other cities and provinces of the PRC.

However, as far back as in January 2020, incidents of COVID-19 coronavirus infection were reported in Australia, Germany, India, Italy, the USA, Russia, Japan and other countries. Initially, the sources of infection were predominantly Chinese citizens who arrived in other countries for various reasons, as well as citizens of different countries who came back home from China or were in transit through it. But afterwards, the process of spreading the infection on the territory of the respective states rapidly became internal.

In this respect, on January 30 this year, World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency of international concern due to a global coronavirus outbreak, calling on the countries worldwide to take measures for early detection of the virus, including isolation of patients and tracing their contacts [2]. Later, on March 11 the WHO reported that the spread of the new coronavirus had reached the pandemic stage, since most countries and all continents were affected [3].

The first cases of COVID-19 coronavirus infection in Kazakhstan were registered on March 13, 2020. By that time, four people had been infected with it, three of them came to Almaty from Germany and one person arrived in Nur‑Sultan from Italy. Subsequently, the infection began to spread actively in the country and reached 4,578 registered cases on May 7 this year.

The national leadership initially responded to the critical processes related to the pandemic abroad. On January 26 this year, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered the government to take decisive organizational measures for preventing the spread of coronavirus from China to Kazakhstan [4]. The first step was to strengthen control at airports and border checkpoints. The Ministry of Healthcare of the RoK commenced training exercises involving representatives of the border and customs services, air and rail passenger transport personnel to detect patients and place them in infectious diseases hospitals. This agency also recommended Kazakhstanis to avoid travelling to China unless absolutely necessary [5].

The decision of the Head of State to introduce the state of emergency throughout the Republic from March 16 this year, which was in effect until May 11, 2020, became unprecedented in the history of sovereign Kazakhstan. The measure that received an ambiguous reaction among the population seems to be quite justified given the growth of the level of spread of this disease in the country.

This report is aimed at presenting objective evaluations of processes and events related to the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus infection and its counteraction in Kazakhstan. To this effect, the report seeks to systematize and periodize government measures aimed at combating the spread of coronavirus in Kazakhstan and stabilizing the socio-economic situation.

Download Report (in pdf)

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