June 23, 2020 / 10:37 AM / 16 days ago

Kazakhstan's biggest city running out of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows a new infectious hospital for patients affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Almaty, Kazakhstan April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev

NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Kazakhstan’s biggest city, Almaty, may convert two sports arenas into COVID-19 hospitals as existing facilities for patients with suspected and confirmed cases are nearly full, the city’s healthcare chief said on Tuesday.

The Central Asian nation bordering China and Russia is struggling to contain the spread of the coronavirus after lifting a nationwide lockdown in mid-May.

One indoor arena on the outskirts of the city of 2 million could house about 1,000 beds, Kamalzhan Nadyrov told a briefing after residents started complaining on social networks that hospitals were refusing to take in patients.

Kazakhstan had reported almost 29,000 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, up from about 5,000 at the end of the lockdown.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said the authorities and the people had let their guard down too early, prompting a resurgence in the virus.

Reporting by Tamara Vaal,; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov, editing by Ed Osmond

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