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Kazakhstan starts fourth stage of strengthening measures to protect citizens from coronavirus: What instructions Askar Mamin gave at the session and what was discussed at the briefing with journalists

Tuesday, 03 March 2020, 04:27:39

At the Government session on March 2, 2020, measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Kazakhstan were considered and the concept of the State Program for Trade Development in 2021-2025 was approved. Following the meeting, a press conference was held with the participation of the Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov, Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov, the First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Shahrat Nuryshev, and the Vice Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Berik Kamaliev.

The first item on the agenda is measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection in Kazakhstan

No cases of coronavirus infection registered in Kazakhstan

The Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov reported to the Prime Minister Askar Mamin that today 88,571 cases of pneumonia caused by COVID-19 have been registered in the world, 1,951 cases — over the last day, daily growth amounted to 2.25%. Including in the PRC — 80,174 cases of pneumonia were registered, over the last 24 hours — 206 cases (daily increase was 0.25%). 44,518 people (55%) were discharged with recovery. 32,741 patients remain in hospitals.

In addition to China, 8,397 confirmed cases were reported in 43 countries. The largest number of cases was recorded in South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan with an average total increase of 30% per day.

Since Jan. 6, 2020, the Ministry of Healthcare have implemented three stages of reinforcement to prevent the importation and spread of coronavirus infection. Since March 1, 2020, the fourth strengthening stage has been introduced, expanding the list of countries to which quarantine measures are applied to arrivals.

The Government has developed an Algorithm of actions for the detection and spread of coronavirus infection in the Republic of Kazakhstan (“Plan B”)

Since March 1, 2020, by the Decree of the Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Kazakhstan, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Hong Kong SAR (China), Taiwan (China) and Macau SAR were assigned to the countries of the first category in addition to the PRC;

“Persons arriving from the PRC, as well as Iran will be placed in quarantine for 14 days, and then they will be under medical supervision for another 10 days after discharge,” the minister informed.

Persons arriving from other countries of the first category (South Korea, Japan, Italy, Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan and Macau SAR) will be placed in home quarantine for 14 days. But by the decision of the sanitary service, these persons can be quarantined in a medical facility.

Persons arriving from countries of the second category within 14 days will be under medical supervision “at home” and a subsequent 10-day call.

Persons arriving from countries of the third category will be remotely monitored by phoning for 24 days.

Over 30 thousand arrivals have been taken for monitoring, today most of them have been removed from monitoring due to the expiration of the incubation period, 6,474 people remain under medical supervision.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Mukhtar Tleuberdi, in turn, emphasized that in countries with a high epidemiological risk of the spread of coronavirus infection at overseas establishments, operational headquarters have been created, algorithms have been adopted for responding to the evacuation of our citizens, and hotlines have been opened to provide advice.

Today, 480 citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan have been evacuated from China.

Regular flights, pedestrian crossings, rail / road passenger transport with China are suspended. Since Feb. 3, 2020, the issuance of visas to all foreign citizens in China has been suspended.

Since March 5, flights with Azerbaijan are reduced and Iranian citizens are banned from entering Kazakhstan.

According to reports, more than 95 thousand citizens of Kazakhstan are in these countries, including 35 thousand in Korea, 40 thousand in the United States, 5,100 in the United Arab Emirates, 5 thousand in Germany, and Great Britain — 3 thousand, in Italy — 1,800, in France — 1 thousand. Most of them are students, labor migrants, staff of foreign institutions and their families, tourists and businessmen.

“If the epidemiological situation worsens, the issue of evacuation of Kazakhstani citizens will be considered in a timely manner. I would like to emphasize that at present, among Kazakhstani citizens abroad, there are no cases of coronavirus,” the minister said.

Vice Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Berik Kamaliev said that in the field of air transport all scheduled flights (34 flights per week) between Kazakhstan and China have been suspended since Feb. 3, 2020.

From March 1, 2020, the number of regular flights on the Nur-Sultan – Seoul and Almaty – Seoul routes was reduced from 9 to 3 flights per week.

Flights on the route Almaty – Tehran of the Mahan Air airline have been suspended since March 1 to 1 flight per week. Since March 5, the flight Nur Sultan – Baku is also suspended. The Almaty – Baku flight is limited from 5 to 1 flight, the Aktau – Baku flight from 7 flights to 1 flight. Air route Nur-Sultan – Tokyo — from 2 to 1 flights.

“In connection with the suspension of these flights, passengers having tickets from March 1, 2020, for the above flights, they can arrange for the return of tickets at the place of purchase without penalty and in full,” Kamaliev informed.

In the field of passenger transportation since Jan. 27, 2020, all 13 regular bus routes with the People's Republic of China are suspended.

Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov drew the attention of regional akimats to the need to strengthen sanitary disinfection in crowded places. Including — in educational institutions, religious sites, retail outlets, airports, railway and bus stations. This list should change as necessary.

The government is strengthening a set of preventive measures against the spread of coronavirus infection in Kazakhstan

The head of government, having heard the speakers, noted that the situation in the world has worsened. The virus has already affected more than 50 countries and continues to spread very actively.

“At present, there are no coronavirus infected in Kazakhstan. Therefore, it is necessary to continue all preventive measures. The virus also has a negative impact on the global economy, in particular, industry, transit, trade and export. In this regard, it is necessary to take appropriate measures to ensure stability of the economy of Kazakhstan,” Mamin said.

The head of government instructed to strengthen sanitary and epidemiological control at all checkpoints of the state border and ensure readiness for the implementation of measures planned in the Algorithm of Actions.

It was also instructed to make proposals for the postponement of major international events previously planned in the country, to suspend the issuance of transit, electronic, tourist visas for countries with an unfavorable situation for the spread of coronavirus infection.

Mamin ordered to increase the production of medical masks and other protective equipment at pharmaceutical enterprises of the Republic of Kazakhstan

“The Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development should restrict regular flights to countries where coronavirus is actively spreading. I also instruct you to ensure an increase in the production of medical masks and other protective equipment at our pharmaceutical enterprises,” said Mamin.

The prime minister instructed akimats of the regions to strengthen anti-epidemic measures in public and private organizations, especially in schools, educational institutions, public service centers, shopping centers, markets, etc.

“Akimats and the Ministry of Labor to suspend the issuance of permits to attract foreign labor for citizens from countries with unfavorable levels of coronavirus infection,” said Mamin.

The government should ensure the stability of the national economy in the face of uncertain market conditions in foreign markets associated with coronavirus — Askar Mamin

The second issue on the meeting’s agenda is the draft Concept of the State Program for Trade Development in 2021–2025

As the Minister of Trade and Integration Bakhyt Sultanov reported, trade occupies 17% of Kazakhstan’s GDP. At the end of 2019, the industry grew at a rate of 7.6%, and the number of employees reached 1.4 million. Kazakhstan's foreign trade turnover amounted to $96.1 billion, including export of $57.7 billion and import of $38.4 billion. Domestic trade turnover exceeded 37.5 trillion tenge, which is 11% more than in 2018.

The goal of the state program is the creation and development of a modern trading system that ensures saturation of the market with quality products and the competitiveness of exported goods and services.

According to preliminary estimates, the implementation of the state program will require about 285 billion tenge, including private investment. Fulfillment of the planned tasks will allow by 2025 to increase the average annual real gross value added of trade by 106.2%, raise the level of application of national standards from 41% to 75%, increase non-resource exports of goods and services to $ 41 billion, and increase the share of electronic commerce from retail turnover to 10%, and also reduce the shadow share in GVA trade to 31%.

The World Bank Representative Sjamsu Rahardja made a report on the relevance of the issue and approaches to trade development in Kazakhstan. According to him, trade is part of the development of successful countries and is especially important for Kazakhstan with a huge territory, but a relatively small domestic market.

“Trade provides businesses with access to large markets, high-quality input and increased productivity, which is necessary to maintain revenue growth,” Rahardja said.

The head of government instructed the central and local executive bodies to take an active part in the development of the document to introduce the draft State Program into the Government.

“The document should establish guidelines for creating a favorable consumer environment, providing the population with high-quality and safe goods, as well as improving the competitiveness of Kazakhstani goods and services in foreign markets,” said Mamin.

Following the meeting, a press conference was held at the Government’s press center with the participation of Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov, Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov, First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Shakhrat Nuryshev and Vice Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Berik Kamaliev.

Speaking to reporters, Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov spoke about measures taken by the Government to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection in Kazakhstan.

“Since the threat arose, 11 meetings have been held, over 100 instructions have been given to the relevant authorities. Today, the spread of the virus is increasing at a rapid rate. Taking into account the aggravation of the situation in the world, the Government took a number of additional measures,” said Tugzhanov.

According to him, for drivers of automobile transports carrying goods from China, an algorithm of medical control has been defined. Today, all cargo transportation is carried out only by rail.

According to the deputy prime minister, these measures are in contrast to the economic component of Kazakh-Chinese relations. However, they are very important in this situation.

“The economy is a crucial issue. Today, according to preliminary data, only in China alone a drop to 1% is possible. If we take into account the share of China in the global economy of 24%, of course, this issue will concern many countries, including Kazakhstan. But even realizing the enormous economic damage, we have no right to risk the safety and health of people. For us, safety and human health is more important than the economic component of this issue,” said the deputy prime minister.

A favorable situation has developed with Kazakhstani students, many of whom are in Kazakhstan today during the holidays. All of them are advised not to travel to South Korea. The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan gave specific instructions to conduct negotiations with the leadership of these universities on the extension of the training period, taking into account the circumstances.

Tugzhanov called on citizens to approach the implementation of antiviral measures with responsibility.

“Each of us must necessarily carry out tough antiviral measures in our home, in the work environment, in the social environment. This is not only the responsibility of the Government, it is the responsibility of every family, every state body, every organization,” said the deputy prime minister.

In addition, he urged not to trust false information disseminated through social networks. In accordance with the law, criminal liability is provided for false information.

Responding to journalists' questions, Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov said that there is no coronavirus infection in Kazakhstan today. The measures taken by the ministry are primarily aimed at preventing the entry of infection into the country. Today, about 1 million people have moved into the country, if among them sick people are found (feverish or with signs of a respiratory infection), then they are required to be hospitalized, examined and receive treatment.

To a correspondent’s question about infection prevention, Birtanov advised careful personal hygiene, as the infection is transmitted by airborne droplets.

“Regular hygiene, face and hand treatment is the best way. Avoid contact with sick, feverish people, and also avoid unnecessary travel to those countries where coronavirus infection is registered. Then there is a good chance that you will not get sick,” the minister concluded.

Journalists were also worried about the issue of providing medical masks that could not be found in certain pharmacies.

The speakers noted that the issue of providing masks today is on the agenda, the full volume of masks in Kazakhstan will be provided in the near future.

“This excitement, panic is doing very serious damage, since the entire volume that was in retail was practically bought out by citizens today. The issue of additional production is being resolved,” said Birtanov.

According to Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov, a healthy person does not need a mask. First of all, masks should be mandatory in medical institutions where there are patients and medical personnel who are in contact with patients with various infections around the clock.

In turn, Vice Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Berik Kamaliev said that the productivity of Kazakhstani enterprises is 170 thousand masks per day.

“Each month, these enterprises produce 5 million masks. There is an opportunity to increase them to 6.5 million. Therefore, together with the Ministry of Healthcare, on behalf of the prime minister, we are engaged in security. They have raw materials before the end of the year. Only for one company, the question was raised when suppliers from China asked in exchange for raw materials to give 50% with medical masks. This issue has been resolved,” added Kamaliev.

Tugzhanov added that specific government agencies, primarily border and customs services, were given a specific, strict order to ban the export of masks from Kazakhstan. According to Tugzhanov, such attempts were, first of all, from Kazakhstan to China.

The First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Shahrat Nuryshev was asked a question about stopping the issuance of tourist visas to Kazakhstan by Saudi Arabia. To which the first deputy minister noted that this information is incorrect.

“Initially, the information that was in the media was incorrect. In the list that was published, there were only 7 countries. Although in reality the restrictions applied to 21 countries. Kazakhstan was listed among seven countries that were among 49 countries whose citizens could obtain visas upon arrival in Saudi Arabia at the airport,” said the first vice minister.

Also, according to him, 170 citizens of Kazakhstan are currently in Iran, 34,600 in South Korea.

“The issue of evacuation from Iran has not yet been raised. But our Embassy is now working with all our citizens. If they wish to leave Iran, they are ready to provide them with the necessary assistance,” Nuryshev added.

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