Kazakhstan locks down two towns over coronavirus

ALMATY (Reuters) - Kazakhstan has locked down two towns near its capital Nur-Sultan to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in the surrounding province, the authorities said on Wednesday.

Roads leading to the towns of Kokshetau and Stepnogorsk will be blocked by checkpoints and a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew has been imposed in both, the chief sanitary doctor of Akmola province said in a statement.

The authorities have also closed all entertainment venues and barred mass public gatherings throughout the province and restricted access to hospitals and institutions such as orphanages and retirement homes.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Central Asian nation bordering China and Russia has jumped almost six-fold to over 30,000 since it ended a state of emergency and a nationwide lockdown in mid-May.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Catherine Evans