March 13, 2020 / 12:46 PM / a month ago

Kazakhstan confirms first three coronavirus cases

FILE PHOTO: A Kazakh sanitary-epidemiological service worker uses a thermal scanner to detect travellers who may have symptoms possibly connected with the coronavirus at Almaty International Airport, Kazakhstan January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev/File Photo

NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Three Kazakh citizens have tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from Germany or Italy, Healthcare Minister Yelzhan Birtanov said on Friday, the first cases of the disease in the Central Asian country.

He told a briefing two patients were staying in a specialised hospital in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city, where they arrived separately on March 9 and March 12. The third person arrived in Nur-Sultan, the Kazakh capital, from Italy.

The ministry is working to quarantine people who arrived on the same regular flights as two of the infected people, he said, while all passengers and crew from the third flight - which was not a regular one - have already been quarantined.

Kazakhstan has already pre-emptively moved to shut down schools, colleges and universities from next week and cancel all public events.

Reporting by Tamara Vaal; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Catherine Evans and Timothy Heritage

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