Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has ordered his government to prepare a package of coronavirus restrictions similar to the hard lockdown that the Central Asian nation imposed in March-May after a recent sharp rise in infections.
He gave his cabinet two days to draft the new measures and scolded senior officials, formally reprimanding a few, for botching the reopening and allowing the outbreak to resurge in the country of 19mn.
“In foreign observers’ opinion, the situation in Kazakhstan is critical, on the brink of spiralling out of control,” he said, adding that the government was considering several lockdown options and ways to support the economy.
Tokayev said the government had failed to persuade the population to stick to safety guidelines and people had behaved “carelessly” as the authorities looked on.
A number of cases have been traced to social functions such as weddings, which often involve hundreds of people in Kazakhstan.
“They (officials) say our people’s mentality is such that they would rather party than observe guidelines. But these are just excuses,” he said.
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has skyrocketed to almost 38,000 from about 5,000 at the time the former Soviet republic started lifting the nationwide lockdown in mid-May.
Deaths have surged to 183 from 32 over the same period.
The Covid-19 respiratory disease is caused by the highly-contagious coronavirus.
Kazakhs have formed long queues at testing centres – some of which ran out of supplies – and drug stores where demand has surged for common anti-fever medicines such as paracetamol.
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