President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has canceled all upcoming major events in Kazakhstan, including conferences, festivals and sports tournaments as the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the globe.
The cancellations came shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
‘‘WHO has announced the coronavirus a pandemic. The government is starting to implement special preventive measures. Public events are canceled. There will be no interruptions in the supply of citizens with food and essential goods. It is important to prevent damage to small and medium businesses,’’ the president wrote on Twitter.
On Thursday, the country’s finance ministry announced that the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, which was scheduled for June, is being canceled. The government canceled the mass celebration of Novruz, the holiday that marks the start of spring, as well as the victory parade dedicated to the 75th anniversary of World War II.
At the same time, starting from March 16, students of secondary and high schools, as well as universities will be transited to ‘distance learning’ over the coronavirus fears.
President Tokayev’s orders will be valid as long as there is an epidemiological threat, according to the country’s health ministry.
Although Kazakhstan has ramped up security measures, the country’s health ministry has announced two coronavirus cases in Kazakhstan today.
The rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected more than 137,000 people and killed more than 5,000 across the world since last December, according to an interactive map from Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
As of March 13, Italy is the worst-hit country outside China, with more than 15,100 people infected and 1,016 deaths. On Tuesday, the country went into a strict nationwide lockdown. At the same time, Iran has reported 11,364 cases, while the death toll in the Caspian country reached 514.
Earlier this year, officials from the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, but were forced to make a new statement this week due to a recent surge of coronavirus outbreak.
‘‘We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus,’’ WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on March 11, according to a statement published at the organization’s website.
‘‘WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,’’ he added.