World News

Kazakhstan to lock down city at weekend as COVID-19 cases jump

FILE PHOTO: A health worker takes a swab from a woman at a mobile testing station for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Almaty, Kazakhstan June 17, 2020. REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev/File Photo

ALMATY (Reuters) - Kazakhstan will impose a two-day lockdown in the northern city of Kostanay and four nearby towns next weekend after a jump in fresh COVID-19 cases, local newspaper Kostanayskiye Novosti reported on Monday.

Residents of Kostanay and the four towns, including mining hubs Rudny and Lisakovsk, will be barred from leaving their houses except for work or urgent necessities on June 27-28, the newspaper reported, citing local authorities.

The move continues a trend towards weekend restrictions in the oil-rich nation of 19 million which has seen the number of COVID-19 cases more than quintuple to about 28,000 since lifting a nationwide lockdown in mid-May.

Kazakhstan temporarily closed shopping malls, markets, parks and public transit in major cities last weekend to curb the spread of the virus while minimising the impact on the economy and shutting public areas on the days when they usually see the biggest crowds.

Neighbouring Kyrgyzstan has said it would use the same approach.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov, Editing by William Maclean