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Kazakh Ambulance Drivers Accused Of Spreading False Information About Coronavirus

A Kazakh sanitary-epidemiological service worker uses a thermal scanner to detect travelers from China who may have coronavirus symptoms at Almaty's airport on January 21.

Two ambulance drivers in Kazakhstan's southeastern town of Qapshaghai have been detained on suspicion of spreading false information about a coronavirus infection in the country.

Police said in a statement on their website on January 30 that the two men, whose identities were not disclosed, will be charged with the "premeditated spreading of false information" via the WhatsApp messaging application.

According to the statement, the two suspects said via WhatsApp on January 29 that a hospital in Qapshaghai had admitted two patients with coronavirus symptoms, which turned out to be false.

The suspects have not commented on the accusation.

Under Kazakhstan's Criminal Code, spreading false information is punishable by up to a year in prison.

Kazak authorities have suspended the issuance of visas to Chinese citizens and temporarily halted all forms of passenger travel to and from its neighbor because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Kazakhstan hasn't registered any cases of the virus, but 35 people with respiratory-infection symptoms upon arrival from China have been quarantined while additional tests are carried out, according to the Health Ministry.

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