The government of the United States has delivered to Kazakhstan essential laboratory equipment and supplies valued at $300,000 within a program aimed at helping Central Asia’s largest country respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The materials delivered to the Central Asian country to address the outbreak of the novel coronavirus include laboratory reagents to support real-time (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) tests, one of the most accurate laboratory methods for detecting, tracking, and studying the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus virus that causes COVID-19.
“Access to accurate and rapid COVID-19 testing is critical in stopping the spread of the virus,’’ said William Moser, the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan, according to a statement issued by the embassy on Monday.
‘‘We are working closely with the Government of Kazakhstan to protect the well-being and lives of everyone in Kazakhstan.”
According to the document, the procurement was carried out through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which has been active in Kazakhstan since 1992.
USAID has been partnering with the health officials from Kazakhstan to identify the specific commodities needed, in accordance with the country’s government-led strategy dubbed ‘‘National Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan". The agency will continue procuring essential laboratory supplies to Kazakhstan, according to the embassy’s statement. The next batch of laboratory supplies valued at over $2 million is expected to arrive in the Central Asian country throughout July – September 2020.
The US has so far provided more than $5.7 million to help Kazakhstan respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. This assistance addressed the immediate epidemic prevention, detection, and response needs in Kazakhstan while building on existing health system resilience strategies.
In April, Washington has allocated $800,000 to Kazakhstan through USAID, to support the country in the areas of infection prevention and control, preparing laboratory systems for large-scale testing and communicating with the public on steps that can be taken to limit and prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
Meanwhile, the global coronavirus pandemic is accelerating, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). On June 18, more than 150,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported to the organization – the most in a single day so far — with a large number of cases reported from the Americas, South Asia, and the Middle East.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries and people ‘‘to exercise extreme vigilance.’’
"The world is in a new and dangerous phase. Many people are understandably fed up with being at home. Countries are understandably eager to open up their societies and economies. But the virus is still spreading fast, it’s still deadly, and most people are still susceptible," he said last Friday during a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva.
The number of global coronavirus cases continues to rise, with more than 9.3 million confirmed cases and over 478,000 deaths recorded in nearly 190 countries and territories, according to an interactive map from Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
The coronavirus cases in Kazakhstan also increased by almost 40 percent over the last week reaching 18,765 active cases, and most of them were reported from the capital city of Nur-Sultan. The government’s figures, however, do not include asymptomatic cases, which counts for 9,809. The country’s official coronavirus death toll has risen to 134, as of today.
The state of emergency in Kazakhstan expired on May 11 but the government was forced to tighten lockdown measures last week amid a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country.
Earlier this month, Kazakhstan’s government officials announced that the country would begin clinical trials of a possible coronavirus vaccine in people in September. The vaccine is being developed by researchers at the Kazakhstan Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems since May, and is included into WHO’s ‘‘Draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines.’’