Coronavirus cases rising again in Kazakhstan, and around the world

NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM - Over the past few days, coronavirus infections have seen a surge after nearly three months of relatively low number of cases. The infections are also rising around the world. More about the epidemiological situation with COVID-19 in Kazakhstan and the world is in the latest article of Kazinform.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus infection, Kazakhstan has reported 1,306,797 coronavirus cases and additional 89,247 cases of coronavirus pneumonia, which shows the COVID-19 symptoms but is clinically not confirmed as coronavirus.

Over the past 24 hours, the country has reported 189 coronavirus cases. In Kazakhstan, there has been a slight increase in the incidence of COVID, but in the last week compared to the previous week the incidence increased 2.9-fold - from 127 to 457 cases, according to the Kazakh Health Ministry. Of all the cases reported since the beginning of this year, 80 percent were caused by a sub-variant of the highly transmissible Omicron version of coronavirus known as BA.2 or the ‘stealth’ variant.

Out of 457 cases last week, 391 cases, or 85 percent were in Almaty and Nur-Sultan cities. The ministry indicated that 80 percent of people diagnosed with COVID-19 are those who have not been vaccinated and those who have been vaccinated more than 6 months ago.

«At present, due to increasing travels and the onset of summer vacations for children, Kazakhstan’s citizens go abroad or visit other regions in the country. This contributes to the spread of coronavirus infection. Therefore, we ask all people to be timely vaccinated or revaccinated and take care of their health,» said Minister of Health Azhar Giniyat on the sidelines of the International Neurosurgery Forum in Nur-Sultan.

According to the latest data from the ministry, 80.2 percent of the eligible population got at least the first component of the vaccine, while 78 percent have been fully immunized against the virus. 4.7 million people were revaccinated, or 67.4 percent of the eligible population.

Around 20,000 vaccines are administered every day. There are now three vaccines available, with a total of about 2.3 million doses.

Despite the increase in cases, there is no need to re-introduce the mask regime, said Giniyat.

However, at the meeting of the interdepartmental commission on the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 on July 1, Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov said additional measures will be taken in case the region moves into the yellow zone of epidemiological risk. The measures will include transferring close contact persons with a sick person to a remote form of work, transferring employees with contraindications to COVID-19 vaccination, and pregnant women to a remote form of work, the mandatory wearing of masks in closed institutions, and public transport.

Global situation

There have been over 541 million confirmed cases and over 6.3 million deaths. According to Our World in Data, 66.6 percent of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 12.11 billion doses have been administered globally, and 5.44 million are now administered each day. Only 17.4 percent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, which speaks to the wide vaccine gap between countries.

The World Health Organization in its weekly epidemiological update noted the increase in the number of weekly COVID-19 cases globally for the third consecutive week after a declining trend since the last peak in March 2022. During the week from June 20 to June 26, over 4.1 million cases were reported, 18% percent more increase as compared to the previous week. The number of new weekly deaths remained like that of the previous week, with over 8,500 fatalities reported.

«At the regional level, the number of new weekly cases increased in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (+47 percent), the European Region (+33 percent), the South-East Asia Region (+32 percent), and the Region of the Americas (+14 percent), while it decreased in the African Region (-39 percent) and the Western Pacific Region (-3 percent). The number of new weekly deaths increased in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (+22 percent), the South-East Asia Region (+15 percent), and the Region of the Americas (+11 percent), while decreases were observed in the Western Pacific Region (-6 percent), the European Region (-5 percent) and the African Region (-1 percent),» said the WHO. The organization warns countries to remain cautious.

In the United States, there have been 87.2 million cases since the pandemic began and more than 1 million deaths. The country has eased travel restrictions since June 12 and it no longer requires air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the US to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19.

As of June 30, 260 million people in the US have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 222.3 million of those are fully vaccinated. More than 106.3 million people have received a COVID-19 booster dose.

COVID-19 cases have doubled in the last month across Europe, WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Kluge said in an interview with the Turkish Anadolu Agency, warning the countries that «the virus is still with us» and that the development of further variants is expected.

«We should be worried about any increases seen in COVID-19 activity in Europe, and it is a stark reminder that we are not yet out of the woods. Increasing incidence in people who are at risk of severe COVID-19 will lead to increased hospitalizations, more disruption to essential health services, and unfortunately may lead to excess deaths,» said Kluge.

He urged people, who have other chronic diseases and people who are older, to get vaccinated. According to him, the eastern part of the European region sees low vaccination rates in these groups – less than 50 percent.

Many European countries have eased their restrictions and lifted almost all travel restrictions for passengers.

Austria, for example, has no travel restrictions now. It does not require proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19, or a recent negative test result. Events also have no restrictions. Previously, the country required people who visit public venues to show evidence of vaccination, recovery, or negative test, what it called a 3G rule.

It, however, still requires people to wear masks in hospitals, supermarkets and on public transport.

The Czech Republic also lifted all travel and domestic restrictions. FFP2 masks are mandatory when visiting medical facilities.

In Germany, for instance, restrictions apply to passengers traveling from «areas of a variant of concern.» Currently, no states are designated as virus variant areas. According to the German Federal Foreign Office, starting from June 11, all COVID-19 entry restrictions to Germany were lifted, but provisionally.

In another part of the world, China, which has seen months of lockdowns and frequent testing, reported zero cases in Shanghai, the first time since March. The country has followed its zero-COVID strategy that envisioned lockdowns, mass testing, and long quarantine periods. Lockdown in Shanghai, a 25-million financial and business hub, has been lifted in early June but was reimposed in several areas as new infections emerged.

Written by Assel Satubaldina