July 13, 2020 / 1:36 PM / 25 days ago

Kazakhstan to extend coronavirus lockdown by two weeks

ALMATY (Reuters) - Kazakhstan will extend its second coronavirus lockdown by two weeks until the end of July and again offer financial aid to those who have lost their source of income, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Monday.

Kazakhstan, which reported a major resurgence in COVID-19 and often-related pneumonia cases after lifting restrictions in May, entered a second, albeit less stringent, lockdown on July 5 in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

“There are first signs now that the situation is beginning to improve,” he said in a tweet. “The next two weeks are important for the full stabilisation of the situation.”

The oil-rich Central Asian republic has confirmed almost 60,000 cases of COVID-19 with 375 deaths, and reported shortages of hospital beds and popular medicines. The number of daily new cases fell to 1,646 on Monday from 1,798 on Sunday.

Kazakhstan held a national day of mourning for COVID-19 victims on Monday, flying flags at half-mast and cancelling entertainment programming on local media.

Tokayev said the government would pay 42,500 tenge (about $100) for July to each person who has lost their job amid fresh restrictions. During the previous lockdown in March-May, a quarter of Kazakhstan’s 19 million citizens received such aid.

Neighbours Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have also reported new spikes in COVID-19 cases after reopening at about the same time. Uzbekistan has also started a second lockdown while Kyrgyzstan imposed more moderate control measures.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Toby Chopra and Mark Heinrich

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