June 11, 2020 / 2:32 PM / 24 days ago

Kazakhstan locks down several towns after spike in COVID-19 cases

Police officers wearing protective masks are seen at a checkpoint, set up to lock down the city to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the outskirts of Almaty, Kazakhstan May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev/Files

NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Kazakhstan has locked down several towns and villages and tightened restrictions in one of its provinces following a spike in fresh COVID-19 cases, authorities said on Thursday, a month after ending a nationwide state of emergency.

In the central Karaganda region, retailers and public transit will work shorter hours and private cars will be banned from moving at night from June 13, the government said in a statement.

Several towns and villages will be locked down again and 70% of public sector employees in the province will work from home, it said, adding that many local residents and businesses were disregarding social distancing rules.

Earlier this month, the Central Asian nation tightened restrictions, although to a lesser extent, in two other provinces which had also reported high rates of fresh cases.

Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic of 19 million people bordering China and Russia, has confirmed 13,558 COVID-19 cases with 67 deaths. It has also separately reported 2,529 asymptomatic cases.

Reporting by Tamara Vaal; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Gareth Jones

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