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Kazakhstan Cancels Norouz, Military Celebrations To Ward Off Coronavirus

Norouz, which marks the beginning of spring, is celebrated every year across Central Asia.
Norouz, which marks the beginning of spring, is celebrated every year across Central Asia.

Kazakhstan has launched preventive measures against possible coronavirus spread, including canceling Norouz holiday celebrations and a military parade devoted to the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.

President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev on March 12 held a meeting with several government officials to discuss such measures, the presidential website said.

According to the website, Health Minister Elzhan Birtanov informed Toqaev about the ministry's implementation of World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendations after it announced the outbreak is now considered a pandemic.

Toqaev said that all public gatherings, such as cultural and sports events, conferences, and exhibitions are now temporarily banned in the Central Asian nation.

In addition, strict sanitary controls are being imposed in shopping malls, bazars, restaurants, transportation stations, airports, and other sites of people's mass gatherings.

Berik Uali, Toqaev's spokesman, wrote on Facebook that the Norouz holiday celebrations, scheduled for March 21-23, and the military parade, scheduled for May 9, were canceled as well.

Spring breaks at secondary schools will start on March 16 instead of March 22, while university students will switch to an off-campus learning regime. Unspecified restrictions for international air flights will also be introduced, the presidential website says.

Toqaev stressed that citizens will be provided with food and other necessary items even in the worst-case scenario, adding that small and medium-sized businesses must not suffer from the preventive measures.

As of March 12, there were no officially confirmed coronavirus cases in Kazakhstan.